A FILM director behind a new Christmas zombie musical which was filmed in Inverclyde today hailed the area and its residents for making it such a success.

John McPhail, 32, spent months living and working locally while Anna and the Apocalypse was shot in places like Cathcart Square in Greenock, Kingston Dock housing estate and the former St Stephen's High building in Port Glasgow, which was the principal location.

It has only been released in cinemas today but has received rave reviews from critics at film festivals and following exclusive one-off screenings.

The movie is also gaining huge attention in the United States and was up for two Scottish BAFTAs for 'best feature film' and 'best actress' for leading lady Ella Hunt.

It was filmed locally from November 2016 until March last year and Coatbridge-based director John has nothing but praise for the area as a location.

Speaking exclusively to the Tele, John said: "I love Inverclyde, I loved being down there.

"For me it was the perfect set. "Every time I've been down the people are brilliant. "Folk had a wee nosey but they just left us alone doing scenes in the streets.

"We had to ask residents to put up their Christmas decorations and they did it no bother and let the cast and crew use their toilets and stuff like that. "It was a big upheaval but people threw themselves into it. "One day in particular we were doing extra shots in the street of the residential area and I had a dummy on the floor covered in blood. "A dad then comes down with his two girls and asks what we're doing. "I said, 'we're just filming a dead body on your path', and he just said, 'good on you'.

"It's great attitudes like that that make your life easier.

"We had a low budget and any help we got was greatly appreciated."

John is no stranger to the area having lived locally while working on TV show Waterloo Road when it was based at the former Greenock Academy.

In the film, he is reunited with actor Mark Benton, who played popular teacher Daniel Chalk in the BBC drama.

John said: "I have a fondness for Greenock because that's where I shot my very first short film. "I was a cameraman but I couldn't get a job in the camera department after I'd been away in Australia, so I took a job as a production runner on Waterloo Road when it was based in Greenock.

"I dealt with all the stars while they were here - I housed Mark Benton, who played Chalky, when he was up filming.

"I lived in the former student halls accommodation at the Waterfront while working on the show and we were doing 13 to 14-hour days and the guy I was sharing the room with did night shift, so I didn't actually live with him for months.

"We left Post-it notes for each other, I'd say 'there's beer in the fridge, help yourself' and he would write back. "That went on for months and I thought it would lend itself to a great short film and I shot it down there.

"When I was doing Anna, I moved in there again so it sort of came full circle."

* Anna and the Apocalypse is out now, including at the Waterfront Cinema in Greenock.