IT'S always quite exciting to recognise local locations and faces up on the big screen, and with new film Hooligan Legacy, the Essex and surrounding links are plenty.

For starters, our very own Westcliff actor Kris Johnson leads in the full length feature film, actors James Groom and Gary Finan from Southend and Benfleet are also both main characters, the producer is Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar - originally from Romford - and the film has been shot around various parts of Essex and East London, with some impressive and familiar locations including Upton Park.

It's a crime drama, hoping to aspire to the traditions of classic British gangster movies like Get Carter, The Long Good Friday and Snatch.

In the film, four men - Ronnie, Jimmy, Jack and Chris - no strangers to unlawful transgressions, execute a daring football stadium robbery. Unsurprisingly, their friendship turns sour when the leader of the group becomes paranoid and begins to self-destruct. Years later after a stint in prison, tough guy leader Ronnie wants his years back from the man he once called a friend and who he now believes is the grass that put him inside.

Kris, who lives near to Hamlet Court Road, plays Jimmy.

"Jimmy is drafted into the hooligan lifestyle as a younger man, but has a steady girlfriend, played by Terri Dwyer, and is looking towards the future.... but he gets dragged into one more job" Kris explains. "Ten years later we see him settled down with a ten year old, and is a different kind of man.

"I think this might be a different film to what people with preconceived ideas expect. It's very football orientated but I think that will appeal to all sorts of people and ages, particularly local people from Essex and the East End. For one thing we shot at Upton Park - we were very lucky to be able to do that. They gave us full access, inside and everything, and especially with the closure being a big thing, it was something special."

Coincidentally, at the time I speak to Kris, he is shooting in Southend on a new, totally unrelated film, called Undercover.

"I have just started to film Undercover, where I also play the lead alongside Ali Bastian (best known for playing Becca Dean in the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks from 2001 to 2007, and PC Sally Armstrong in ITV drama series The Bill from 2007 to 2009) and Simon Cotton (Rise of the Krays)" he said. "I'm not too sure how much I can say about it at the moment, but it's meant to be due out in December."

But back to Hooligan Legacy and its producer Lucinda, who has worked in the industry for close to 20 years, but only recently stepped behind the camera.

“After starting as an actress, I wanted to learn more about the process behind the scenes. Now I actually prefer the producing side" she says.

This genre might seem surprising coming from a female Producer. So what inspired her to tackle the criminal world on film - a male dominated industry and a male dominated genre?

“I’ve always loved gritty British films and the backdrop of London, Essex and the North of England" said Lucinda, "so taking inspiration from the locations and setting a story within a world of hooligans and ex-gangsters was very appealing to me.”

“There are always benefits to being a female! When talking to people and trying to shoot somewhere I think the softer female approach has definitely helped. It also helps that we have a gorgeous leading lady in Terri Dwyer.”

The film also comes recommended for football fans, with a standout sequence filmed in Upton Park. “I’m a massive football fan and support West Ham" Lucinda tells us. “It was incredible to shoot in the stadium and the atmosphere is absolutely electric, even when there’s no-one around and it’s completely silent. It was one of the first football stadiums I ever went to so it was nice to go back full circle and shoot a film there.

“A lot of films are shot in Essex now so they’re becoming more receptive to it, they’re also really friendly. I love working near my family home.

"We filmed in local pubs that I used to go to, like The Havering Well and The Wheatsheaf. Rhodes Theatre School, our family business, does a lot with the local community and we’ve had many actors from the school in our productions. Much of the cast and crew are locals.

"There are so many talented people from Essex so we had a lot in our cast and crew. I like the glamorous aspects of Essex and it's people and we absolutely love filming here. It's great to give something back and see the area up on the big screen."

Hooligan Legacy is on Digital HD from May 27 and DVD from May 30.