News: The 28 Day Project launches wonderful opportunities

Actors Phil Matthews and Gemma Nichols met in 2010 whilst working on a theatre production in their native North East. Sharing a similar work ethos, they began discussing various projects they’d like to create themselves. The first, a short film, came about when Nichols needed some footage with a Geordie accent for her showreel and Matthews was keen to direct. “One of the scenes we wrote turned out so well, we developed it further,” explains Matthews. “There’s something hugely liberating about going out one morning with a camera, a script and a group of talented actors to just see what happens – it’s quite extraordinary what can be achieved.”

The Bench, a film about childhood sweethearts at a cross roads in their relationship, is currently in post-production.

Not ones to let the grass grow under their feet, Matthews and Nichols are currently gearing up for The 28 Day Project, a slightly more challenging venture. “We just loved working with each other so much,” explains Nichols. “And afterwards we said ‘let’s do something else’ and this is our ‘something else’..”

The 28 Day Project is a fly-on-the-wall documentary following the pair in their quest to produce a short film, based on an untold true story, in just a month.

The actors, now based in London, set about devising The 28 Day Project, a concept largely inspired by the 1980’s television series Challenge Anneka, which saw Anneka Rice (pictured) completing a string of challenges in a set period of time. Embracing National Storytelling Week in the first week of February, Matthews and Nichols will set about turning an untold, real-life story into a short film. “Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone gets to tell their story,” says Nichols.

Inspirational Stories

“We’re going to source an inspirational story, find a director, writer, production team, actors – then produce a short film in 28 days, with a premiere screening scheduled for the 28th February at a central London venue,” explains Matthews. “In the run up to the 1st February, we’re on the look out for inspirational stories that have a some significance with the 28th February from any year, so that the premiere has a degree of gravitas for everyone there.

“Perhaps the person whose story we’re telling was born on the 28th February, it might be their wedding anniversary, or they were perhaps inspired by events on that day, who knows? But that date has to be significant in some way,” adds Nichols. “We’re urging everyone to get in touch so that we can consider them for the project.”

Supporting New Talent

Although the project cannot properly begin until the 1st February, in addition to stories, the pair are keen to hear from people who would like to support the project in other ways. “The response in just a few days has been wonderful. Not only financial support, which is obviously essential, but also people offering their help and services to make this project really exciting,” says Matthews. “That’s what this is all about, collaborating with other likeminded artists and creating something special at the end of it.”

Casting for the project is yet unknown, but Matthews and Nichols are keen to support emerging talent, so when the story is settled upon, they plan to visit drama colleges. “We want to give a drama student their first acting job out of drama school,” explains Nichols. “Sometimes it’s just that stepping stone, that first professional job, to kick start their career.”

Matthews explains that their passion knows no bounds. “We’re so up for this. No matter what obstacles we come up against, in true Challenge Anneka-style, we’ll make sure this film gets made. We’d love you all to be part of the journey.

“Okay, so we won’t have the famous Challenge Anneka buggy or truck,” Matthews laughs. “But we will be sure to match the energy of Anneka who was simply marvellous in that series!”

The team are also keen to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in the project. Perhaps you’re a budding film-maker or producer, or would like to help promote the project, get in touch.

The team wants to hear from anyone with an inspiring story, no matter where they live in the UK. Their story should have a significant meaning on the 28th February (from any year, any connection) with a brief synopsis emailed to


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