FILMMAKING took centre stage at Wotton Electric Picture House for a celebration of cinema with a Hollywood writer.

Writer of the film Mamma Mia! Catherine Johnson visited Wotton-under-Edge for a question and answer session and film screening on Saturday, January 18.

The 2008 romantic comedy was adapted from Ms Johnson’s popular West End musical of the same name and is the highest grossing musical of all time.

The writer behind the book, musical and hit film grew up in Wickwar and attended Katharine Lady Berkeley's School.

She joined a diverse line-up, including members of the team behind local short film Black Car Home, filmed around the River Severn and screened at the event.

The cinema’s Jeff Walshe said the programme had focused on the process of making films.

“Catherine Johnson started the process talking about her background living in the area and some stories about school,” he said. “She made everyone laugh quite a lot.

First and foremost a playwright, Ms Johnson is also a patron of Wotton cinema.

“She’s dropped in and out over the years,” explained Mr Walshe. “She brought her parents to see Mamma Mia! in the cinema. We’re lucky to have her.”

She answered questions about her writing, Mamma Mia! and the ABBA songs that didn’t make the cut, before being interviewed by Black Car Home’s writer and director David Pearson.

The director then took to the stage himself, discussing his filmmaking and plot ideas with the audience. He is currently putting together ideas to turn his 20-minute film into a feature film.

His story follows the unlikely friendship between a feisty Latin American illegal immigrant and a forager living rough by an English coastal estuary. As things are left open-ended the end of the production, the team is asking people for ideas about what happens next.

Mr Pearson then interviewed John Cleave, the lead actor in Black Car Home, who gave an interesting insight into making the film and a difficult time last year with the loss of a close friend.

The fourth and final speaker was bird trainer Lloyd Buck, discussing training animals for films and television.

In total, £960 was raised from ticket sales at Wotton Celebrates Cinema, which will go towards replacing the lights in the display area of the town’s Heritage Centre.

For news and information about films at Wotton Electric Picture House, call 01453 844401 or visit