AN INDEPENDENT film starring a Helensburgh actress has premiered at a festival in New Jersey this weekend.

Victoria Johnston features in Dead On The Vine, a film written by her husband, Mark Brown.

The film had its world premiere at the inaugural SModCastle Film Festival in Leonardo, hosted by American filmmaker Kevin Smith.

The story follows two men who are making their way out of Rye in Sussex when one suffers an seizure. The pair pull into the closest place available – a vineyard run by Cora and Victoria’s character Joni.

Mark said: “A couple of things happen that then kick things off in a dark way, and everyone ends up making a lot of survivalist choices.”

Victoria added: “The film was unbelievably fantastic for me. I loved every single minute of it. It’s just incredible that it all pulled together, and it was such a luxurious location.

“Being one of the four leads was a dream come true, personally. I’m excited for the festival – I didn’t know if this day would come to be honest.”

Mark and his producer Laura Rees began work on the film at the start of the pandemic .

With Laura having access to the 70-acre Tillingham Wines vineyard in East Sussex, Mark got to work writing a script to fit the scene. Complications caused by lockdowns and Covid restrictions meant it would take two years to get the film over the line.

He said: “We didn’t know what we were going to do, or if our industry was dead. We both had this idea of making a little film just to keep our sanity.

“My producer went around finding all these amazing people who were out of work – people we could never have afforded. They had been coming off of all of these big films and TV shows, just desperate to do anything.

“We were quite lucky to begin with. Nobody was working, so we had the choice of everybody.

The film was shown at the festival on Saturday, December 3, where it is also nominated for best drama, best ensemble, and two best actor awards.

Mark hopes to bring the film to the UK in Spring 2023.

He added: “To have the film screened with someone like Kevin Smith, who is a massive hero of mine, it’s quite a moment. I’m feeling pretty good.”