Standing on a green astro-turf ‘red’ carpet in London’s Leicester Square at the premiere of their first film, the four partners of Fulwell 73 took a moment to realise what they’d achieved.
A film made in one of their bedrooms - about the true story of five British freestyle footballers and their journey across the Americas in the hope of shaking Diego Maradona’s hand - had been sold to film company, Lionsgate, after being shown at Cannes film festival.
That was 2007. Eight years on and the Sunderland filmmakers are now working with some of the most famous faces in the TV and music industry, and can count One Direction, Olly Murs and James Corden as friends.
Partner Leo Pearlman, speaking from their new offices in Camden, London, said:
That night is the only time we have taken five minute to think, yes, we did this and this is pretty ridiculous really. Ever since then, it’s been always onto the next project.
Ben Turner, his brother Gabe, cousin Leo Pearlman and Ben Winston grew up together, spending weekends watching Sunderland in the Fulwell end at the old ground, Roker Park.
When the company was in its early days, the only viable excuse for missing work was to travel to almost all home and away games.
The passion for Sunderland is where the company's name comes from, and now the edit suites in London are named after some of their heroes; Kevin Ball, Niall Quinn and Julio Arca.
Now, their dream is to go back and make a film about the Black Cats. But they say the club don’t seem keen.
Leo said: We’ve sent them a couple of emails, offering to help, but they don’t seem that excited.
When Paolo di Canio took over, we said: ‘Let us come in and get it on film, we can talk later about whether you want us to edit it and put it together but let’s film it; it’s going to be an incredible journey. But there was nothing from the club. We’d even make their end of season DVD.
A shared passion for football has helped their careers, combining their main hobby with work for films like ‘Class of 92’, a documentary film about the rise of six talented young Manchester United players.
Usually a pitch for a documentary involves a lot of preparation to work out the ins and outs, the details, who you want in it and what the angle might be.
Aside from the sports films, they make music videos for One Direction, a relationship that dates back to the X Factor.
That includes their latest video, Drag Me Down, which was filmed at Nasa in Houston, access they got, they say ‘because it’s One Direction.’
Gabe said: “I think that was my brother (Ben Turner) living out his fantasy. He is space obsessed. He’s always wanted to go to space; well, Sunderland or space.”
One of the partners, Ben Winston, is now in America, one of the executive producers on the Late Late Show with James Corden.
They have been working with him since the England Football Team sketch for Comic Relief in 2009.
After a successful decade of making films with famous faces, the next big project is a documentary on Usain Bolt’s career.
They’re still hoping though, for a call from SAFC.
See Katie Oakes full report here: