An empty Sunderland police station will feature in a new film.
The old Gilbridge Police Station in Sunderland city centre closed in 2015 and is about to undergo a £4m transformation into StationH, a state-of-the-art business centre, by entrepreneur Charlie Hoult.
Now parts of the building have been used as a movie set for Muscle, a film about the world of bodybuilding featuring former Eastender Craig Fairbrass and Cavan Clerkin, who starred in TV series The Last Kingdom and hit comedy Pulling.
The psychological thriller is being made by Newcastle-based Hook Pictures, who won critical acclaim with their debut feature film The Rise, which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.
Muscle was written and is being directed by Gerard Johnson, co- produced by Ed Barratt and Richard Wylie, and has already secured a deal with a French
Clerkin plays an unhappy office worker whose life is gradually taken over by Terry (Fairbrass), a personal trainer who drags him into the world of bodybuilding.
Areas of StationH used for filming included the reception area, the charge desk and the cells. The film is set in the north east and other filming has taken place in Newcastle, Gateshead, and Hartlepool.
Director Gerard Johnson explained where the idea for the film came from: “About ten years ago I was spending a lot of time in the gym and kept coming across the same sorts of characters. At about the same time personal trainers were coming to the fore, and I thought it would be interesting to explore the idea of a personal trainer taking over someone’s life.
“So the film explores the testosterone-fuelled world of bodybuilding and gyms – that environment of toxic masculinity is at the core of the film.”
He added: “There are specific reasons why the two main characters have ended up in the north east, which has been an amazing place to shoot. Other than Get Carter, and a couple of other films, if the region is being used in a film, it’s usually pretending to be somewhere else. But we’ve made the most of what is very atmospheric area.
“We were delighted to have found StationH, we were struggling to find a suitable venue for this section of filming and it’s perfect for our needs.”
Charlie Hoult, who owns and runs the Hoults Yard office complex in Byker, Newcastle, and the HYpoint business centre in Gateshead, said: “It’s been interesting to work with the film crew and I’ll be watching out for the film when it’s released. We were approached by the film’s location manager and were only too happy to help.
“We’re waiting for the new road linking Garden Lane and St Mary’s Way to be complete before moving tenants in, so the timing for filming couldn’t have been better.
“We’ve had tremendous interest in StationH from a wide and exciting range of businesses and organisations and StationH will be something Sunderland has never seen before,” he added.