Movie-maker Mark Noyce is becoming a big noise in Britflicks as a director, producer, writer and star.
Mark (43), who lives in Cowbit, wrote and directed On the Ropes – sharing the action with actor and ex-boxer Joe Egan .
And one of his latest ventures, The Blazing Cannons, sees him team up on screen for the first time with Barry from EastEnders (Shaun Williamson) and Corrie’s Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold).
Mark won multiple martial arts world and international championships, making him the perfect candidate to play martial arts instructor Keith Kraft in a documentary-style comedy focusing on rivalry between boxing and martial arts gyms.
Ex world heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson once described Egan, who was his sparring partner, as “the hardest white man in the world”, while Mark – who broke a rib in the final fight scene of the film – lightheartedly refers to his actor friend as “a big old lump”.
The success of On the Ropes paved the way for The Blazing Cannons, which Mark co-wrote with Ben Shockley, and allowed investment in new cameras so the comedy caper could be shot as a traditional, feature film.
The writers are also joint directors and take the lead roles as cops who have an unhealthy obsession with 1970s TV shows.
The Blazing Cannons had its world premiere at the end of last year at a cinema in Wisbech and is due for release at the end of April.
Mark has joined forces with Shaun to write another comedy, This is Jayde: The One Hit Wonder, with Steven Arnold in the title role and Shaun playing a character described by Mark as a “very, very twisted, dark version of himself”.
Most people know Shaun from the soap institution EastEnders and his hilarious appearance in the Ricky Gervais hit series, Extras.
“I met Shaun after he watched On the Ropes, because he is a boxing fan,” said Mark. “He really liked it and he contacted me.”
Boxing was the link to another friendship and working partnership as Mark met Steven Arnold through Joe Egan.
“Steven is big into boxing,” says Mark. “He’s great friends with Ricky Hatton.”
It was a Bruce Lee film – Enter the Dragon – that set Mark on the path of martial arts and ultimately heading into theatre and film.
He says: “I was training four hours a day, seven days a week, and competing at world level up to my 20s from about 16 onwards.”
Mark stopped fighting when he was about 18 and switched to the forms discipline, where competitors are judged on skills in a choreographed routine.
He had a string of major successes, which included becoming International Chinese Kung Fu World forms champion, World United Martial Arts Federation World forms champion and World classic forms champion.
Focusing on forms allowed Mark to adapt his skills for the stage.
He said: “I did a lot of theatre and I was in operas doing things like sword work and back flips.
“I had a little job, it was at Pinewood Studios working on a Sky TV show, and one of the guys happened to be working on a film. He asked me if I would like to audition.”
Mark landed the job, a speaking role, and it led to bigger films.
Despite his training as an actor, Mark was still getting too many roles as the guy who did the martial arts or the guy who did the fighting.
“I had fallen out of love with martial arts many years before that,” he said. “A good friend of mine said ‘you need to create your own opportunities’. So I wrote On the Ropes, never thinking anything would happen with it in a million years.”
Ironically, Mark cast himself in a martial arts role – the very thing he wanted to break away from – but the film became the springboard for other, more diverse projects as well as showing off Mark’s acting talents and gift for comedy.
“It made the distribution company a profit so we got to make another film,” said Mark.
Mark, who is married to photographer Nikki, has another big film project in the pipeline focusing on the life of his great comedy hero.
He said: “I have written a film on the life of Benny Hill, that’s something I am really actively pursuing at the moment.”
The film is based on Mark’s extensive research, including conversations with people who knew and worked closely with Benny.
“He’s very under appreciated in this country,” says Mark. “He was a very, very clever guy and I think he was before his time.”
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