FORGET Hollywood and the movie industry elite of Los Angeles.

Warrington has been a big part of a British filmmaking success story thanks to a company called Do Not Bend Productions.

The Bold Street production company worked with emerging director Jason Wingard on the comedy, Eaten by Lions, which is currently enjoying a run of screenings in cinemas up and down the country.

Warrington Guardian:

Eaten by Lions

It is Jason’s first mainstream cinema release after his previous story, In Another Life, won ‘Best UK Feature Film’ at the Raindance Film Festival 2017.

And the Do Not Bend team can share a big part of both of those successes as they have been collaborating with the director for almost a decade.

Martin Butterworth, production designer and managing director, said: “I’ve known Jason for about eight or nine years now and he always brings me great projects and it’s always good fun working with him.

“Normally in the industry, people call you up if you’re working for free or for very little.

“You’ll get a pitch and it’s along the lines of: ‘It’s a really fun job, it’s going to do great at festivals, it’s really well catered and we think we’re going to do really well’.

“But Jason called me up and went: ‘I’ve got a really rubbish job for you. There’s no money but I might make you a sandwich’.”

Warrington Guardian:

Jason Wingard

Many projects – and sandwiches – later, Martin’s team got one of their biggest opportunities when Jason gave them the job of creating a double of the ‘Calais Jungle’ during the refugee crisis.

They made 11 buildings and 30 tents on four acres of land in England to match scenes that were shot on location.

The work was for Jason’s breakthrough film, In Another Life, which tells the story of a couple who are separated when they are forced to flee war-torn Syria.

Warrington Guardian:

In Another Life

Martin, who works with a core team of 12 but has a roster of 99 people for Do Not Bend projects, added: “In Another Life is a really heart-wrenching story, Eaten by Lions is a light-hearted and playful comedy and the next one Jason’s doing is very serious and is a whistle-blower film about the gold currency and the global conspiracy of things that are going on.

“So all of Jason’s films are completely different. He just gets an idea in his head or looks into an issue and then runs with it.”

Martin described it as ‘mind blowing’ that In Another Life was recognised by Raindance Film Festival.

The dad-of-one to 10-month-old Vincent Silva-Butterworth, said: “We were working through the night with generators to power the lights and our power tools. Things were breaking. We had little to no money. Our hands were bleeding and it was so hot.

“We were building for a week straight. It was 21-hour days so to get that award at the end of it was just amazing.”

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Warrington Guardian:

Some of the Do Not Bend team

Do Not Bend had even more responsibility on Eaten by Lions.

A team of 28 spent 10 weeks on a variety of roles from preparing sets such as shopfronts to moving props from Manchester to Blackpool.

Through the magic of editing, they also helped make it look like a pristine Rolls-Royce had crashed into a shed.

Eaten by Lions is about two half brothers, Omar and Pete, on a quest to find Omar’s biological father.

The film also features the likes of Johnny Vegas, Asim Chaudhry and Kevin Eldon.

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Martin added: “Having a theatrical release for a film that we’ve worked on is a big step.

“One of the big things in the film is this notebook that tells a lot of story. Someone said it’s a British Wes Anderson film which was a great compliment.

“But we’re telling the story visually based on these little pictures in the notebook that come to life.”

Martin and the team got to attend two premieres for the film in London and Blackpool.

He said: “I had a drink with Johnny Vegas after the premiere in London. He’s a great down to earth guy but I don’t normally see the glitz and glamour.

“I’m normally covered in splinters, plaster and paint. It was good to enjoy all the other aspects of what people did on the film. For example it had a great sound designer and director of photography.

“But it proved what we are capable of. It shows that we can do this at any type of scale because it’s a risky business for producers to trust you on a wing and a prayer.”

Do Not Bend’s partnership with Jason does not end there. As well as the film about the gold currency, they are teaming up with the director for a short film about a man who becomes homeless.

Martin added: “He was a banker. He had a house, car and partner but personal circumstances suddenly take it all away.

“He’s out on the street, he can’t support himself and we’re going to build a set which makes it look like he’s disappearing into the concrete as he becomes more and more ignored.

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“We’re constantly problem solving to find ways around things that are seemingly impossible.”

That sense of creating something from nothing is Martin’s favourite part of the job.

The Manchester Film School graduate said: “I love brainstorming and taking something from an idea to a working set.

“It’s the energy of it. There’s so little margin for error.

“You’re only as good as your last job but it’s really rewarding.

“I get a buzz out of being creative and problem solving. I’ll do a sketch with a pen I borrowed from a bar and then three months down the line I’ll see 12 of my team up a ladder building it.”

Because of their recent successes, Do Not Bend has grown and now has a workshop in Salford.

But before then the award-winning company was only based underneath Shelly’s restaurant – run by Martin’s mum Michele – and in another workspace at construction manager Tim Lorlor’s house across the road.

Martin said: “Now as we’re trying to grow and progress, we’ve also got a warehouse unit in Salford .

“We want to have storage for all the props and supplies and we want to teach people skills so we’ve got the space for that.

“It was surreal doing work on some of these award-winning productions and being in a basement under Shelly’s restaurant.

“It hit home when we were building a stage piece for the Royal Northern College of Music at Tim’s house on a coffee table with bits everywhere.

“We’ve got a cinema release and a host of really good adverts that we’ve done but this all came after lots of blood, sweat and tears working on a kitchen table at 4am overdosing on caffeine.”


DO Not Bend originally started as an art platform and clothes label when it launched in 2008.

Martin Butterworth got his break when he went on tour with the Furious Five when they were supported by Warrington’s own Winachi Tribe. He made some clothes that were modelled by the hip hop group and that led to him doing some photography and music videos for them.


Martin quickly built a team who stuck by him even though he had no way to pay them at first.

He said: “Once we did that first music video, including the set build, that’s when we realised we had the skillset for this and it grew from there.

“We were in a warehouse and we built it to make it look like a Moroccan cave. We made it look like you were somewhere completely different and that’s what we really enjoy doing.”


There is now a core team of 12 including construction manager Tim Lorlor, art direction lead Kim Thackeray as well as family like Martin’s mum Michele who has a variety of roles including seamstress and florist and his partner Rosa Silva who looks after Do Not Bend’s graphics.

Martin added: “It’s a team of people with different disciplines. No one originally had experience in the film industry. I’ve dragged a lot of them into it. It was like: ‘You’ve got a transferable skill set – come and do this’

“So what started out on a grassroots level in 2008 is now a very structured group of people.

“When I went to Manchester Film School it all just crystallised in my mind that this was definitely what I wanted to do and it just took on a life of its own.”

Recognition came pretty early for the team too.


The Do Not Bend team, who also work on events and festivals like Creamfields, were involved with four projects that won Royal Television Society Awards while Martin was still at film school.

One of them was Stars on Mars, a sci-fi meets Big Brother sort of set up.

Martin said: “They think they’re going into space but they’re actually just in a film studio

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“It’s like Big Brother-style car crash TV and for the suspension of disbelief not just for the audience but for the actors we had to create the quintessential spaceship set with all the sound effects you’d expect. That was a really fun job.”


Now Martin wants to inspire others to get into the industry.

He added: “Moving forward we want to do workshops and maybe look for funding.

“We want to hear from people coming out of business management school and graphic designers .

“We’re interested in hearing from tutors from colleges so we can teach more people how to use those transferable skillsets so we can do bigger and better projects.

“Some of the best people in my team are those who just have an eye for something. We want to provide a springboard for north west talent.

“We did so many films for next to nothing just to get the portfolio to show: ‘Look we can achieve this if someone believes in us’.”

Not all of Do Not Bend’s work involves the film industry though.


The team have created adverts for the likes of Walkers, Adidas and Boohoo and last year transformed Manchester’s Mayfield Depot into a Christmas wonderland for a cinema experience.

Martin, 31, said: “When we first got in there it was filthy and covered with broken things.

“Our job was to clear it up and turn it into a really immersive space. So we created ‘snow drifts’ and you’d walk through fur coats in a Narnia-style wardrobe to get in. We also made a log cabin and decorated it all with festoon lighting and there was an igloo tunnel leading to a giant Christmas tree.”

It’s always a balancing act though as the team often have multiple projects at once and while they were working on that they were creating Donald Trump’s head to be burnt as an effigy for BBC’s upcoming Years and Years and making costumes for Walkers’ Christmas ad.

Meanwhile, Martin’s mum Michele’s work for Do Not Bend has also impressed industry insiders including Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones.

Martin added: “She made two space suits for one of our jobs and he said they looked amazing. I said: ‘My mum made them...’”

  • Eaten By Lions is in cinemas now