Champion Mark is On The Ropes

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A MARTIAL arts champion is launching an assault on cinema box offices after directing his first film which he shot in his home city.

Mark Noyce, who lives in Cowbit, near Spalding, is a multi-time world champion in fighting disciplines including kickboxing and kung-fu.

However the 37-year-old has taken a step back from fighting and moved behind – and in front –- of the camera for his directing debut, On The Ropes.

The film – due for release this autumn – is described as a mock documentary about rival martial arts and boxing gyms.

As well as directing the film, he also stars as martial arts instructor Keith Kraft.

Around 80 per cent of scenes were shot at venues in Peterborough, where Mark was born, including karate academy, The Way of The Spiritual Warrior, in Werrington, and Fitness Station in Dogsthorpe Road.

A trailer for the film was released last week and Mark has been delighted with the response.

He said: “Feedback from the trailer and from the distribution company has been very positive, so I’m excited to see it delivered to audiences and see the response.”

On The Ropes is due for release in the autumn by Cornerstone Media International, who are planning for a release in selected UK cinemas.

Its release will be the end of three years’ hard work, which started when Mark began writing a script.

He added: “I was working on a film about 18 months ago and in conversation mentioned to the producer I had written a script.

“He asked to read it and I thought no more about it. A month later we met up and he told me to send it to someone he knew in the industry.

“From that things seemed to move really quickly and then a distribution deal was made.”

Mark said he chose the locations from his knowledge of the city.

He said: “Most of the cast are scattered all over the UK so anywhere could have been chosen.

“When we came to discussing gym scenes I mentioned I knew two locations which would be perfect. All the crew agreed and the decision was made to film in Peterborough.”

However, it is not just the gym scenes which have been shot in the city – the filming led Mark to make a return to his much-changed secondary school.

Mark said: “I went to Walton Comprehensive School, which is now The Voyager School. We actually filmed part of the competition scene there.

“It was totally unrecognisable when I went back, because literally nothing of the old school was left. I hadn’t been back for 20 years.”

Mark made the decision to retire from competing in the mid 1990s and said it was thanks to Michael Cross, artistic director at the Key Theatre, that he moved into acting.

However, it was only after an actor became ill while Mark was working as a stunt fighter in 2009 that he got his big chance.

He said: “After reading the script and working closely with the director and producer I was offered the part.

“The film was shot over a four-month period and after that I made the decision to focus on getting speaking roles.

“My long-time friend, Michael Cross from the Key Theatre initially helped me prepare for a couple of roles and auditions. His knowledge and experience was extremely valuable.”