18th September 2012

A ‘Crashcourse’ in film-making

Merlin Merton talks about the inspiration behind a student-made film

The best and most exciting thing about film is that everyone can take an interest and get involved. At the Mancunion, we love to cover both global film events and those happening in Manchester, so we were thrilled when University of Manchester student Merlin Merton contacted us about his film-making experience last year. Here he tells Sophie James about the highs and lows of balancing uni-life with the making of his film Crashcourse.

What’s Crashcourse about?

It’s a rickety twenty-minute hitch in a 1950s Cadillac, the sea one side and crumbling ghettos the other. We all dream of living the escape but reality kicks in and soon we return home. That’s how the idea for Crashcourse was conceived. Wannabe rockstar, David Jones, is numbed by a life of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. He goes on a journey into barren countryside, making an assortment of encounters along the way.

Who was involved? 

I teamed up with two friends at the University of Manchester, Louisa Hull and Alex Mansfield Martinez. Although we had had various film and theatre projects, we were all new to the process. Our cast consisted largely of drama students and actor-friends we asked to audition.

What was it like fitting in filming with uni? 

The first week was bad, but then sleep ceased to be an issue. The worst was when we filmed 5:30am-5:00pm two days running, I had one essay in on the first day, Louisa had a dancing competition the next. I also received a warning from uni for lack of attendance!

Were there any other problems during filming? 

There were various strange encounters including a drunken B&B owner, but worst of all was the cold. Once, Alex and I drove to the Peak District with Matt only to find that it had snowed. The footage was all jerky and unusable as our frozen hands were unable to maneuver the tripod.

How long did the process take?

2nd November was the first meeting of cast and crew. We told everybody that filming had to be completed before Christmas. Although we completed 80% of the first edit by the end of January, everything was paused until July when Finals were over. The rest of the edit took a month.

Would you do it all again?

The project was intense, but we persevered and had a truly memorable experience.

What’s become of Crashcourse since you finished it?

Crashcourse was submitted to film festivals all over from San Francisco to Alexandria. We won’t hear first results until October but we’ve been reviewed and accepted both onto Amazon and IMDB which was our main goal. Making money was never the main incentive, rather we hope to get as much attention as possible from this big project that killed a car and made zombies of the cast.

Where can we find out more?

Check us out on and

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