Norfolk in film and photo

PUBLISHED: 05:28 08 December 2014

Artist Frank Gray with his film producer wife, Debbie

Artist Frank Gray with his film producer wife, Debbie

Archant

Within months of moving to Norfolk, Frank and Debbie Gray are finding the county is woven into their lives.

Hunstanton by Frank GrayHunstanton by Frank Gray

Within months of moving to Norfolk, Frank and Debbie Gray are finding the county is woven into their lives.

Film producer Debbie was already working with Steve Coogan, and plans to follow his Alan Partridge alter ego and set her own next film in Norfolk. Her husband, an artist, has moved from painting imagined scenes to photographing real landscapes.

Frank used to imagine the water-filled scenes he created. Then the couple moved to Great Bircham and Frank began to focus on capturing real landscapes in photographs. “The north Norfolk beaches are naturally wonderful,” he says.

Now he is selling panoramic views of the shoreline and sea, stitching images together to create his pictures.

Holkham by Frank GrayHolkham by Frank Gray

“We had lived in Suffolk for 14 years but we wanted to be closer to the sea. Debbie grew up on the east coast and I grew up on the west coast; north west Norfolk has proved the perfect answer,” he says.

The couple now live in Great Bircham, between Hunstanton and Fakenham, and Debbie now hopes the county will be the backdrop for her next project, with comedian Jo Brand.

Debbie’s latest film, Northern Soul, stars Steve Coogan, Ricky Tomlinson and Lisa Stansfield. It tells the story of two lads in Wigan in the 1970s. They fall in love with the soul music and dance craze, which swept from America across northern England.

Debbie, who grew up in Cleethorpes in the same era, says she knew the music and the scene well – but left it behind when she came to Norwich to study at the University of East Anglia. She has returned to Northern Soul in the company of stars. Steve Coogan plays a secondary school teacher and Debbie says: “Steve was brilliant and his company Baby Cow co-produced it with us, so I had the wonderful Henry Normal as an executive producer and mentor. Ricky was great and Lisa Stansfield has become a lovely friend of mine as a result of working with her. All the cast, well known and otherwise, have been amazing.”

Debbie originally trained as a lawyer and worked as a legal and business affairs consultant on films including Sliding Doors and The English Patient. She went on to work in production for the BBC, Channel Four, ITV and Sky and now has her own film and television production and finance company, based in Norfolk and London.

Last year she helped transform the iconic performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, on Aldeburgh beach, into a feature film, and she hopes to use Norfolk locations when she works with Jo Brand on the film of her novel, The More You Ignore Me.

Debbie says: “I studied at UEA and always loved the city and the coast. I love the sea and cannot think of anywhere better to live.”

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