A CRITICALLY acclaimed independent film starring an actress from Helensburgh has been released for the small screen this week.

Guardians, starring Victoria Johnston, whose mother runs a B&B in the town, was made available to view on Sky Store and Virgin Media from Monday.

The film has already won more than 50 awards and nominations at festivals around the world – including the ‘best film’ prize at the new HB Film Festival in Paisley – and Victoria and her husband Mark Brown, who wrote and directed Guardians, are hoping that movie buffs will enjoy it just as much as the critics.

Victoria said: “The timing couldn’t be better – this is a great time of year for people to sit down and watch a movie together, so it was a fantastic Christmas surprise to be told about its small screen release.”

Victoria stars as Eleanor in the low-budget comedy thriller, which has been described as a cross between Withnail And I, the 1987 black comedy starring Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, and the 2002 US thriller Panic Room.

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“It’s set in a 200-year-old house which two men [Carlson and Lavender, played by Matt Prendergast and David Whitney] are thrown together to look after,” Victoria said.

“Essentially they’re employed as cheap security so that squatters can’t get in, and soon discover that the house may or may not be haunted.

“It’s had quite a broad audience and it seems to appeal to people of all ages – my 15-year-old nephew and my aunt, who is 86, both watched it and both really enjoyed it, although I definitely found our family and friends the most terrifying audience!”

Victoria’s parents, Douglas and Jane, moved to Helensburgh from Glasgow when Victoria was aged 15, though by then Victoria was already studying drama at a boarding school in Hertfordshire, where Thandie Newton, who has since gone on to star in film and TV productions, was head girl.

Douglas has since passed away, but Jane still runs the five-star Lethamhill B&B on the town’s West Dhuhill Drive – and Victoria, Mark and their two children are regular visitors home.

Guardians was shot on location at Victoria’s then home in the Limehouse area of London in 2016, and had its UK premiere in the city in November of the following year.

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And even though the film was completed more than two years ago, Mark and Victoria have had a lot of work to do since then to secure its release for a wider audience.

“We’ve done almost two years of events and festivals,” Mark said, “talking to sales agents, trying to pick the right deal and being sidelined by other, bigger films.

“But we found a sales agent a year ago, who took it to markets around the world – and then, two weeks ago, we were told about the deal to release the film on Sky Store and Virgin.

“It’s been a bit of a slog, but an enjoyable one – and at last it feels as if we’ve reached the end.”

The film is also available on iTunes and Amazon Video.

The couple have since moved on to other projects – Victoria, who won the ‘best supporting actress’ prize at the Genre Blast film festival in the US state of Virginia for her role in Guardians, is currently waiting to hear whether she’s landed a part in a new film by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, while Mark’s latest creation, Limpet, is earmarked to go into pre-production next year.

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