Southend on Sea Picture Postcard

Dear….

We went to Southend, and made castles out of sand and seashells. I bought you a stick of your favourite stripy rock. We took a ride on the big wheel I’m not afraid of heights, but it’s scarier than you think as it was suspended for a while, and I found it hard to open my eyes.

I played bingo, but I didn’t win anything although I did win a prize on one of those crane machines and that was on the first try.

See you soon

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Joe Greco – Freelance Cameraman and Editor on life in front and behind the camera.

 

Camera work

As a dancer, Joe Greco, worked on UK children’s TV shows as one of the ‘Pink Windmill Kids’ on ‘Emu’s World’ then as an actor on CITV shows such as ‘Spatz’, and ‘Spin Off’. Switching to production, he worked as an editor, before working in the corporate sector as a freelance cameraman. Along with his business partner, Tuhin Dasgupta, he has also established a web streaming production company called ‘Studio Stream’

Joe & Tuhin

You are now working on the other side of the camera, editing and directing in the corporate field. Is that side of production becoming more creative?

I left acting and went into editing. I got offered a job editing news content at Sky TV and loved it. Then I became a promo producer. It was great to explore the other side of production, but after 12 years of sitting in a dark room, I felt it was time for something different. I’m much happier as a Cameraman because I get to go out and about.

My business partner, Tuhin, is a motion graphics guru. The work can be creative at times and the companies we work for expect a high standard.

Studio Stream Setup

I’ve watched some corporate promos and some of them are like a mini action film.

A lot of work goes into corporate production. Tuhin works with After Effects and Premier Pro and he’s incredibly talented. I worked on Avid for ten years and then learnt FCP7 & FCPX.

Did you find Avid quite hard to work with?

At the time, Avid was the only non-linear editing system around for TV work. I was an Avid editor for ten years and to begin with I found it difficult, but after a few months I got the hang of it.

I use iMovie.

It doesn’t really matter what you edit on, they’re all just tools to tell a story.

Are you starting to branch out into the creative side? Such as Short films or writing.

I love doing that sort of stuff, but generally those projects are more a labour of love and sadly you don’t necessarily earn money that way. There’s always a crossover between what you’re passionate about and what pays the bills.

Do you write?

I have done and I love doing that kind of thing. It’s nice to have an idea to focus.

Can you tell me about the photo on Facebook with the traditional Chinese Fishermen?

Chinese Fisherman

A lot of the work we’re doing at the moment is for WPP and focuses on popular brands around the world. A huge amount of research goes into producing data about the most successful brands and how much they are worth and this gets compiled into the Global Top 100 brands. The data also looks at Indian and Chinese brands and I’m very lucky to have been able to visit these countries to film the people and see some of their culture. That photograph of the old fisherman was taken to show the contrast between the traditional and modern China.

That’s good that you got to travel to China and India.

Yes, it was an amazing experience but I also felt quite anxious about flying and travelling so far away.

Is it just planes that make you anxious?

Anxiety is something I’ve had all my life, since I was a child. It can manifest itself in different ways. I’m happy to say it’s a lot better than it used to be.

What is Studio Stream broadcasting?

We stream live webinars on YouTube. Generally, we have three cameras and we cut between them. I always wanted to be a vision mixer when I was a kid, now I’m finally getting to do it haha. Sometimes we film on green screen and create a virtual set behind the presenters and guests which we stream live. The technology is amazing.  Filming in Mumbai, India

What changes have you seen with production crews?

I think nowadays you are expected to do a lot more…operate cameras, record sound, produce and direct. The technology has facilitated this too. The other day, I operated an Osmo camera which is built around a gimbal. Your iPhone connects to it as amonitor and it becomes a Steadicam. It’s brilliant. I also bought my own wireless mics along as I needed to record high quality sound independently. Tuhin and I manage to do a lot between us, but we believe it’s far better to have people who are dedicated to certain roles as it improves production quality.

I’m going to get into the Pink Windmill stuff now.

In 2016, The Pink Windmill Kids intro from the 1980s TV series “Emus All Live Pink Windmill Show” went viral.

You’ve got fans worldwide. Maybe it’s the tonic everyone needed from an age where dancing in day glow leg warmers came with no sense of irony or archness just pure unadulterated fun.

I'm Joe To You

What’s your best memory of Emus World?

I shut it out of my life for a long time…30 years to be precise. As a kid, I loved being part of it, but when I reached my late teens, I became really embarrassed of how I looked in it. The 90s came along and everything was Urban and Hip Hop and in my mind, this just made it all look even worse. I thought if I could bury it and not let anyone know, then that would be the best thing. So, I never talked about it. I got asked once or twice if I was in it, but I denied it. Then this meme happened.

Did you happen upon the viral meme by chance or were you notified by someone else?

Old school friends shared it on Facebook and when they started to tag me and directly comment about me, there was no way I could ignore it. I wasn’t happy to begin with, but then I got messages from people all over the world – kids mainly – saying they loved it. Many said they had struggled to fit in and that watching us as kids had given them a sense of hope. We were a pretty odd group of kids, but also really relatable, it would seem.

I like the fact you were a group of multi-racial kids on prime time TV, in the 1980s.

Exactly. It was good and a lot of people have have commented on that. The meme made people laugh. Whether this was because they were poking fun at it or because they just loved it, it still seemed to have a positive effect. I couldn’t believe the way it took me on an emotional journey – I suddenly found myself accepting it and becoming passionate about it in a way that I could never have thought possible.

How did the other cast members react to getting together?

They found it really funny. We were all friends on Facebook and started a message group. The only people we couldn’t get hold of were Anthony and Lorraine.

And Spencer

Well, Spencer couldn’t do the remake, but he was part of the message group initially. Anthony wasn’t on social media and so we all thought he wouldn’t do it. We couldn’t get hold of Lorraine either. Catrina was in Australia, so she had to get a flight to the UK. I was so pleased that we managed to get everyone back together. We all felt like we were kids again.

It came at the right time.

Yes. Everyone was saying that 2016 was an awful year and that watching us as kids had a spread a bit of happiness. One person on social media said about the meme “thanks for saving 2016”. When I read that, I realised it was much more than just an embarrassing time from my childhood.

Rod Hull didn’t seem to stick to the script. Was he very off the cuff?

I guess he had to be as the phones were always going wrong. On the very first live show he called someone to play the ‘Spin Quiz’ and asked them what the weather was like? He thought their reply was “It’s sodding awful”, which he repeated, live on air. It wasn’t really that bad by today’s standards, but he had to apologise during the show as it was children’s TV.

Ha. Maybe it was the Australian in him.

Haha. Maybe!

How did you get onto the show?

I ended up going to stage school, as my mum thought I might get bullied at senior school. I was overweight from about 8 onwards and had already experienced a bit of bullying at my junior school and the senior comprehensive, that I was due to attend, didn’t have a great reputation. My sister, Mary, was already going to stage school and my mum suggested I try it. When I first started, I didn’t know how to dance or act or do any of that kind of thing.

That must have been quite a big leap.

Yes, it was. My sister had been dancing for years – she was one of the orphans in the stage production of “Annie” at the Victoria Palace – so I had a vague idea of what it was about, but I really learnt to dance while working on “Emus World” because the choreographer trained us so well.

Did ‘Emu’s World’ go on tour?

Yes, we would do Christmas shows and Summer Season…Skegness, Hastings etc. We did 6 weeks in Great Yarmouth and stayed in caravans.

What was that like?

It was hilarious. I can’t say we were angels, but when I look back at that summer of 1985 in Great Yarmouth, I now realise it was a time when a lot of us grew up.

Did you have a tutor?

We had a chaperone and were given homework if we were working during school time but Corona was a bit like St Trinian’s and so most of the time we got away with doing very little schoolwork.

Someone described the viral clip as a really adorable car crash that just keeps happening for two minutes – or words to that effect.

What other things have you heard about the meme?

That’s the best description I’ve heard. People have called it bizarre and disturbing and said we were all on drugs. At the time, we were told to smile and look like we were enjoying ourselves. I think Catrina might have taken it to an extreme.

The arms. Catrina went flying with it…and the eyes.

Yeah, her eyes are crazy. She’s definitely got druggy eyes (purely as a result of her over enthusiasm, I hasten to add!)

There’s been a lot of stuff said about it. There’s no sense of self consciousness.

We loved every second of it and maybe that’s what people see? When you are part of a dance group, you have to commit to it or it doesn’t work. We were so lucky that we had one of the best choreographers in the country, Alan Harding, teaching us the routines. He and his dancers were very well known on UK TV and his work included royal galas, countless TV series and spectaculars. Alan always had the same approach and didn’t treat it any differently, just because it was a kid’s TV show.

You recently reunited for a Red Nose day in aid of Comic Relief?

pink windmill remake

Now & Then

Comic Relief contacted us and asked if we would think about getting together and remaking the meme and there was no doubt in our minds about doing it. My business partner, Tuhin (who was also a Pink Windmill Kid from the earlier ‘Emu’s World’ series) filmed it for us and we felt really comfortable knowing he was going to produce it for Comic Relief. We recorded more of the routine, but didn’t have any of the outside sections, such as Catrina and the girls on the front of the bikes, Hugh’s bit with the helmets and my back bend in front of the mansion. Before I die, I would still like to film all that.

I wonder how Catrina feels about that?

She said there was no way she would be getting on the handlebars of a bike. Don’t worry, I think I can talk her round.

Anything else planned?

Joe 2

Not at the moment. It was lovely to revisit our youth and it’s something that not many people get to do in their lives, so I consider myself to be very lucky. Getting back together with the other “kids” and recreating a part of my childhood will probably go down as one of the highlights of my life – not only because I got to travel back to 1984, but because it finally helped me accept myself and, for that, I am truly grateful.

https://joegreco.wixsite.com/actor

 

Purple Sky

This is a Christmas card I designed for a local arts charity. It will be a short, stop motion piece uploaded on YouTube in 2016, inspired by the works of English animators Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, when animation wasn’t dominated by computers. I’m also writing a children’s poem based on the picture, I will collaborate with an illustrator in the near future. The poem and picture came about whilst working as an arts volunteer at an art mental health charity called ‘Open Arts’ which is looking for funding in 2016. Support the arts, and support mental health. Merry Christmas. Dreaming of Purple Skies.

Scan 4.jpeg

Rude Girl and Rude Boys – Film Producer Cass Pennant on his new film ‘Beverley’

Shoot

I recently caught up with the film producer Cass Pennant, after the screening of his new film ‘Beverley’ at Southend-on-Sea Film Festival. With various screening festivals in the UK and now abroad, ‘Beverley’ has since been selected in the shorts programme ‘Rebel Girl’ for the East End Film Festival, 9pm Tuesday 7th July.With a compendium of knowledge on football, music, and subculture fashion, these were just a few subjects that Cass touched upon when we spoke about  ‘Beverley’, the short film Cass has been developing with the Writer-Director Alexander Thomas, and together they have come up with a dramatic story aboutExif_JPEG_PICTURE

a mixed-race teenager who battles to assert her own identity in a bleak and threatening environment during the 2-Tone Ska music period of 1980 in the Midlands.

Everyone has a story to tell, but what made Beverley Thompson’s resonate with you and the Director Alexander Thomas?

 My first production was a documentary on the football subculture ‘Casuals’ I thought it was a forgotten subculture because the films concentrate on the violence.’ I wanted to pin it as a bigger interest, and involve more people, yes the violence was hardcore, but the other part of the subculture is the fashion as well as following football. It was the fashion more than anything, it outlasted all the other British subcultures that fizzled out after two years,but the casuals went on for three decades.  It was a subculture that didn’t come from music.  You couldn’t have Punk without the music, or Mod without the music, and Skinheads without the Reggae. The football casual didn’t come from music so I wanted to make the definitive documentary on the fashion behind the violence, and I didn’t believe there were female football casuals.  It left women out.  What would be the point of it? They don’t do the violence, but there were a few, we tracked them down and one was Bev Thompson.

 

Bev 2-Tone cafe

(real Beverley). She was now a Mum living in Brixton.When you’re interviewing someone, it’s hard to take someone back to that period without them talking to you in a way that is rather matter of fact. As an author to get the best out of someone there’s two ways to get them back in the past, as if it were yesterday and tell you in a vivid way. Music can take you back and the other is taking the person back to the scene.  In the film ‘Cass’ where I got shot, I went back to that actual spot for the actor to feel it, that’s why it’s powerful.

 I took Beverley back to Leicester, she hadn’t been there for decades, the ground is gone, the houses have been knocked down, but if you walk the streets it comes alive.  In my biography I had to make the reader feel Jamaica, as I did when I went for the first time, to find my roots.  You can’t do it in the house talking into a tape.  I went into a massive field near where I live, in the early hours of the morning when no-one was around. Standing in this field, with a co-writer talking into the dictaphone felt like the hills of Jamaica.  You need those things to get in the zone.

 On the train journey with Beverley I was fascinated with football girls from the terraces. She made the confession that it was short-lived, and wasn’t always a football casual, Beverley had also been a Rude Girl.  I’ve always wanted to do a film that gives a legacy to the Two-Tone era.  In 1979, when ‘Quadrophenia’ was released we watched that and said that’s our lives, it wasn’t premeditated, it’s wildness of youth, particularly males and females who go along with it in a gang.  We felt it because we thought it was our lives, we weren’t Mods we were football.  What ‘Quadrophenia’ did for Mod I wanted a film to do the same for Two-Tone, because in the last 6-7 years as a Father of Mixed-Race kids, the far-right groups are about, the riots happened, and it’s all the same cities where the riots originally started back in the 1980s. Now it’s the next generation. It was history repeating itself in the last five years, and then we were in the middle of a recession, and back to rule and divide.

If you take away the economic recovery in the last year,and the time I was thinking about doing this  involving the period of Two-Tone from 1979-1981. There had been so many subcultures, but Two-Tone hadn’t been picked up. In film, but I needed a story otherwise it’s a documentary.  When Beverley became a Rude Girl it was her sense of British Identity and also getting equality, she didn’t want to go with girls, and could hold her own with boys.

 She’s a very strong character.

She didn’t fit in one way or the other, with black or white.  What is she? A female in an all male subculture of the football casual that is really unique.  Those lads would do it for their different reasons but Beverley was doing it for a British identity.  When Pauline Black, lead singer of ‘The Selecter’ came along with the unity thing, Beverley started to feel accepted as British in this country. I looked at film maker Alex, we had a conversation, we both agreed to revisit Beverley and get her story on tape, and it  had such social relevance.  After we completed ‘Casuals’ a year later we interviewed her, so much stuff came out, that I now had the story  I needed to make the film. No one is going to give us a million pounds to make a feature, so let’s make it as a short that serves as our calling card.  I was also working on other scripts and co producing the film ‘The Guvnors’ which won best action movie at the National Film Awards 2015, but ‘Beverley’ meant more to me on a personal level.

Because it was more personal.

Because of the timing.  I have a mixed-race daughter, and son and there doesn’t appear to be issues but you never know.  I was a bedroom kid bottled it all inside me and didn’t want to share or talk it out; I wonder if young people through seeing Beverley’s story will say it resonates with today’s generation.  I’m a bit of a 70’s an 80’s man, but if we go with a film it’s got to related to today’s audience. When I see this generation, that are mixed-race or half-caste as it used to be known, in my time it was mainly Jamaican and White English.  Now it can be Turkish English, Nigerian English, Asian English. It’s half and half of something English.  The film will resonate with many but they have different takes, the similarities are there.  Beverley Thompson is like me, a good talker. Alex our Director is very talented.  The three of us sat together we knew it would be a hard journey, but there was going back, because financially we had nothing to do this, so we decided to crowd fund it, work with social media and drive everyone crazy to get this made.

There’s no doubt about Nottingham Television Workshop’s legacy and talent that continually comes through. Was it always the intention to cast from there?

Everything is in London.  Everything stops at London.  Even when you’re trying to get work as an extra, most of the actors from the North no longer live where they come from they’re within the M25 for work, you can’t really make a film out of London.  I like authentication, most British youth subcultures were started in London and the North catches up, but Two-Tone was different, it was hatched in Coventry, in the Midlands.  There’s a lot of talent up there and I wanted to get the period right, London doesn’t have Lowry’s Matchstick Men and Matchstick Cats and Dogs image, or those Coronation Street terraces with those kind of backyards or alleyways. I knew if we shot in the Midlands we’d get a lot of genuine help, where as you would have to buy your way out of everything in London. We had to shoot around Vicky McClure once she said yes; she was only free in the Easter holidays. I contacted the local papers in Leicester for casting and auditioning actors, it was a local story, we gave them the story that we’re making a film and need extras and actors, then we started hiring local crew, and found Rhys Davis, our assistant director who started to help us whilst we remained in London. He suggested casting the actors at the offices based at an independent cinema in the city, The Phoenix. He introduced us to some amateur and local acting groups and we found one in Leicester.  While Alex contacted Nottingham Television Workshop, we also had students who wanted to be involved. The Mercury gave us another plug and we followed up two weeks later interviewing all the response but the role of Beverley was cast in London, we had about twenty girls and got them to four, all of a sudden out of the blue while we were shortlisting, a contact came through for Skins actress Laya Lewis

Laya Lewis_VickyMcClure-16

saying she was interested.  She was always the directors first choice, we found a good bunch of actors but Alex always felt there was something about Laya that was Beverley. The Leicester Mercury have been following the story all the way through because we have Midland based cast.  We were getting a great buzz from the actors who had come from local drama groups like ‘Your Urban Actors’ based in Leicester to act alongside a BAFTA winning actor like Vicky McClure.

 

Vicky McClure Hi res Still

Vicky is from Nottingham and started at the Ian Smith’s TV Workshop that continues to produce amazing new actor’s. Kieran Hardcastle and Tom Cowling are both from there

Scene 27. Dean is advertising the  NF- George Somner, Tom Cowling, Kieran Hardcastle

and you can really notice the qualities they bring as the gang.  The other young TV Workshop Actor to impress is only 12 years old and her name is Sennia Nanua and she plays Beverley’s sister, look out for her as she has picked up the lead role in ‘She Who Brings Gift’s’ with a cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close and Paddy Considine.

What has been the response from audience members who weren’t even born in 1980?

The first response initially came from the young actors through seeing the issues Beverley endured, whilst reading the script, then checking with their parents: “Did that really happen?” Stuff came that they’d never told them, once back on the set they realised how real it was. It caused much debate because young people will have their own issues and how it’s dealt with today.  We were learning from them. My own daughter went to the London Short Film Festival Premiere: “Dad. Why didn’t you tell me the film is about this (Mixed-Race Identity)? I’m going to tell my friends’At the question and answer sessions the young people are picking up on their own experiences.  They feel it’s never talked about because it’s a more politically correct society today: ‘You haven’t got a problem’ ‘No one is looking for your problem.’ So they’re carrying that.

It’s very covert.


After the screening a lot of young people will come up and say ‘We get that but in a different way.’

Is it wrong to assume that young people now don’t have the same subcultures of the seventies and eighties?

I wanted to make ‘Casuals’ because it was the last working class subculture, you can’t get another one now because of the internet, the whole thing was an adventure and people didn’t really venture outside their own towns, it was very tribal and very territorial, the only way out is a gig, that’s why the latest fashions didn’t catch on until two years later in some towns. On holiday people would see people from London wearing a label and query where they bought it, and then go to London or the nearest town. We’re talking about travel.  Now it’s the same shop in every town. Until we did ‘Casuals’ we found a young group emerging, it’s there on a small scale they’re never going to be as strong as the original subcultures, you can’t have that sense of youthful excitement when it’s taken away from you. (picking up a small brochure Cass flicks through the pages demonstrating the easy access of consumer culture) you get these fantastic magazines, all the models wearing the latest clothes, telling you where you get the clothes. Top Shop, Prada. (He highlights this) When you go to the clubs everyone is wearing exactly to how that model has worn it in the magazine. The subcultures were the happening thing that your parents or the press didn’t know about. It was underground.  It can’t be underground where it’s dictated, it’s led, it’s fashion. This is why it’s so strong in Europe today. When it was happening here Europe didn’t have what is known as teenage subculture because of conscription. You go to cities such as Barcelona or Rome, it’s now cool to pick up on these 1970S-1980S British subcultures and get that detail, that’s the only way they have their freedom of choice it’s what they want to wear because it’s niche, it’s not being sole by the shops in Europe because it’s too British. Britain has given the world every subculture starting from the Teddy Boy.

Do you think that the British Film Industry is slowly catching up with a different audience, or still struggling to catch up with a changing audience who want to see different stories on screen?

No. We’ve made the film industry aware of this film.  It’s only in the past few weeks that we’re talking to people about a feature, there’s a buzz in the industry about ‘Beverley’ some of the audience is changing, people that are now coming to the screenings give us their business cards.  Everything about the grid of filmmaking is money, it needs to respond, music is the same, you go on the road, and gig hard so everyone in the pubs and clubs in the towns will know about you, so they pick up on it. Our wins are coming from the audience.  The festival circuit is arty this is a bit commercial for their liking, but when we won the award at the London Independent Film Festival the organiser said that after we went the audience kept coming up to him, and saying how much they liked it.  At the screening in Derby the judges decide the winner, but also like involvement from the audience, they waited and held their decision to see what the audience came up with, the decision was unanimous Beverley won best short film. It’s clear evidence to say the audience influence Beverley. If you’ve got a film that people want to see, it drives us as filmmakers to keep where we’re going, to achieve our ultimate goal of making Beverley into a feature we hope.

Poster Beverley colour

We’ve screened at pubs, colleges, and now we’ve started screening at music festivals, and getting it out to the people “There’s this really good film called ‘Beverley’ that’s months pushing and driving, social media, and turning up everywhere. We’re making a presence, and then it starts to  gather its own momentum, which is happening now as other people start to invite us to their festival. Everyone has a film, they’re trying to get through the same door, if you want to get your way in you have always got to think of the next move.  If you think in that way then you can steer things to happen but you still have got to keep delivering, you’ve got to work it, that there’s enough of your vision to get you there.

 

Cass Pennant who is the best-selling author of nine football hooligan related books, he advised on numerous TV and film projects, including Lexi Alexander’s Green Street/Hooligans plus Guy Ritchie’s acclaimed Snatch and Alan Clarke’s The Firm, along with Bravo TV’s The Real Football Factories International and ITV’s Bouncer’s series.

Pennant is also the eponymous hero of critically acclaimed British feature film CASS directed by Jon S. Baird (Filth) based on his autobiography about his turbulent life and character, constantly strengthened through adversity.

His background is ‘the streets’ and he has brought this to his media projects. Above all, his pre-film life has seen him develop a range of contacts born out of these previous associations, which give him access to a world largely unavailable to those schooled in the more formal arts of television and film. Therefore he is in the process of developing ideas, which are innovative and surprising in their approach, his production of award-winning 2012 documentary Casuals was a Community Channel TV broadcast in 2013. Same year he co-produced his first feature for Metrodome ‘The Guvnors’ a cinema release 2014 and winner of ‘Best Action Movie at the National film Awards 2015.

Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Rd, London E1 6LA
Tickets 020 7780 2000 To book online: https://www.genesiscinema.co.uk/films/events/eeff-shorts-rebel-girl-tue-7th-july/#show-times

Laya Lewis inside club headshot

Dance of The Corn Dollies – 1 min Stop Frame Animation

I made ‘Dance of The Corn Dollies’ when I recently applied for a role as creative content/self shooter with a video branding company.  I wanted my application to stand out among the many hundreds of CVs that they would receive so I created something visual to support this. The idea came about because I always wanted to make a live action/animation featuring corn dollies with a theme of the English Pastoral the maypole on the village green, an English Albion in animation. The characters were made from sugar paste and added twigs to the corn dolly characters. I filmed with Panasonic DVC 30 and the SAM stop motion software with a playback (animation plays back) of 10.2 frames per second although the frames are jerky I felt this speed worked the best.

My job application was unsuccessful but I will be creating another stop motion with a similar theme in time for St. George’s Day using a more pliable clay dough material.  In the meantime here is ‘Dance of The Corn Dollies’ with a royalty free soundtrack ‘The Forest and The Trees” by Kevin MacLeod.

Jennifer Farfort

The Rise – Reed Film Entry 2014

‘The Rise’ is/was an entry into the Reed Film competition with the theme of family business.  I created a film about my Dad making artisan bread, his constant attention to detail and quest for the perfect rise in the dough.  I wanted to create a sound/visual commentary film similar to the documentaries by the English Documentary Filmmaker Humphrey Jennings. jennings-bbc

Talking ‘Filth’ & film with Novelist, Director & Screenwriter – Irvine Welsh

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http://www.irvinewelsh.net/

In 1993 Irvine Welsh’s début novel ‘Trainspotting’ was unleashed into the public’s consciousness. The interlinking short stories of heroin addicts living, and existing in a late 1980s Edinburgh seared into the retina. Garnering praise, and contempt in equal measure, Trainspotting, and ultimately Irvine WelshImage were to the novel what Sex Pistols were to a crumbly, and stale 1970s British music industry, attracting a sharp, neon outrage from critics and the literary establishment alike.

As we fast forward to 2013. ‘Filth’ Welsh’s 1998 novel about a detective sergeant Bruce Robertson is released in the Autumn.        Image

Via email I posed some questions to Irvine Welsh such as, film directing, the casting of ‘Filth’, and why it took so long getting it on-screen.

Hello Irvine Welsh,

Let’s talk Filth.   The novel came out in 1998, and the film is due out in the autumn of this year.  I take it, it hasn’t been easy getting it funded.

It never is with independent movies. With Filth, Dean Cavanagh had done a very good script which was bought by Miramax/Hal, then the European operation of Harvey Weinstein. However, the companies split in two and there was a dispute between them over who owned the rights, which put the project back in limbo. When it went back to me, there were various other producers and directors involved, all who wanted to do their own adaptation, but they were nowhere near the standard of Dean’s. Then Jon Baird, whom I met through my friend Cass Pennant (Jon had done Cass’s autobiography as his first film) took over the project. He did a great screenplay and got me involved as a producer.

 

How involved were you with casting the film?

Jon’s game plan was to finance the film through Hollywood contacts. We were both repped by CAA and they did a great job packaging it financially and putting together casting suggestions. We were assisted by Janet Hirchenson and Jane Jenkins, who are the doyens of Hollywood casting agents. So I was pretty involved, Jon wanted me with him to speak to the potential actors, to see how they got the characters.

Bruce Robertson isn’t even a anti-hero.  Yet he is strangely sympathetic. Do you think that it’s still important to have sympathetic characters, someone who the audience still has a certain empathy with.Image

Yes, especially in cinema. You really need an actor people strongly relate to play Bruce. It’s not enough to make people laugh or disgust and shock them, you need to break their hearts too.

Will the tapeworm be a CGI effect or will it be more realistic than that?

I’m keeping quiet about the tapeworm, as he isn’t as prominent as he is in the book, but he’s in there.

You’re quoted as saying ‘Filth’ is the best British film since ‘Trainspotting’  Some people might agree with you…some might disagree, but still that’s a pretty bold statement to make.

I believe that it might even be a better film than Trainspotting. There is an element of mischief in this, on my part, of wanting to start the debate, but a lot of people are going to be seriously shocked by how good and moving a film it is.

How did you get involved with directing music videos?  It doesn’t seem like an easy transition to make from writing novels, and then directing a promo.  Who was the first person to let you near a camera, and say please can you direct our video?

It was the band Gene, who got me to do the ‘Is It Over’ single from the Libertine album. I hit it off with Martin Rossiter and Steve Mason from the band, who are excellent guys and wanted me involved. I worked on some more, with Primal Scream and Keane. They are great fun to do, and I’ve been asked to do more, but it’s all about time.

With the success of your novels you can do pretty much what you want.  Have you been tempted to go back to making short films without time, or financial restraints?  Something spare that could be shot in 8 hours or less.

I’ve got more involved in cinema, and I’m doing a low-budget feature next year. There are always time and financial restraints in any collaborative activity like filmmaking.

What’s healthier. Scottish cinema or UK cinema?

All filmmaking, be it in Scotland or the rest of the UK, is pretty much a cottage industry. One of the great things about working in Hollywood on film and TV projects, is that the whole thing is taken more seriously. When you look at the resources they have, Scotland, England, Wales and, especially Northern Ireland, punch massively above their weight in cinema.

I spoke to someone who makes documentaries, and works in the film industry. They said there is money, but it’s in the wrong hands.  How do you see this?

When was that not the case? It’s been a huge challenge to get as much of the money dedicated to cinema up on the screen as is possible. Whether the structure in the UK is right to deliver this not, I can’t really say as I’ve been out the scene for so long. But there are still great films coming out of UK/Ireland.

You’ve got a strong working relationship with the screenwriter Dean Cavanagh, and now Jon Baird. When it comes to co-writing, or even co-directing a feature or tv film. What is it that attracts you to that person?

Well, you always need to choose your collaborators carefully. Both these guys are close friends and they are very passionate about cinema, art and life in general. You can’t afford to be around people who are pompous and take themselves too seriously, it doesn’t make for good collaboration.

You live part of the time in Miami, and your next novel takes place there. I’ve never been to Miami, but I imagine Michael Mann imagery, and frenetic phone conversations in a departure lounge. At night I would imagine fast, flickering neon MTV images.  There’s a lot of imagery to absorb.  Do you listen out for dialogue, or are the images just as important?

You try to tune into both. Miami is an extraordinary visual place, because of the light, tropical foliage and the art deco architecture. That’s why so many artists and photographers are based there.

Regardless of people’s views on America there can be no doubt about a landscape that is cinematic in scope. It’s Ansel Adams black and white photograph ‘Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.’
adamslargemoonrise

It’s Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ the 1942 painting

imagesthat could be a scene from an old gangster movie starring Jimmy Cagney or Edward G Robinson. Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’

Grant_DeVolson_Wood_-_American_Gothicis the 1930s melodrama set in the heartland of the midwest.

The American novelist James Robert Baker captured film and pop culture imagery with ‘Boy Wonder’ ‘Fuel Injected Dreams’ and ‘Tim and Pete’.  Have you read any of his novels? 
ImageImage

I haven’t read any James Robert Baker. Maybe I should try!

Sorry just one more thing.  I know it’s not a question of sorts but Antonia Bird..

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000944/

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Yes, she’s a close friend of mine. Would love to work with her again.

Best Wishes

Irvine

Miniature – Tiny screenplay – Draft 2

oak-box-with-lock-closed

Mini screen pictures a production company that makes programmes for smart phones and tablets recently held a competition to find a winning script to be produced and directed and uploaded onto mobile technology.  I entered the competition with a revised script of Miniature.

Feedback:

I like the idea which seems very fresh, but not really sure I understand it fully in terms of getting my head round the set up.  But that’s possibly cause I’m not very good at reading scripts – I find it hard to picture.  Was there a particular brief associated with this?  – My sister.

The brief was to write an original script (no more than 10 minutes) in one of these genres – drama, supernatural crime thriller or comedy.

MINIATURE 

by

Jennifer Farfort

2013

FADE IN

EXT. FIRE DOOR EXIT. SMALL THEATRE HALL. DAY

o/s male voice:  Next

DAVID an eighteen year old boy smokes a cigarette. He wears a baseball cap, body-warmer, grey sweat shirt and matching tracksuit bottoms.

o/s male voice voice: Thank you. Mandy has your details. 

A group of young people in garish costumes walk out of the main entrance towards the car park.

David watches them.

A girl dances and twirls ahead of her friends.  Her exaggerated movements cause laughter amongst her friends.

musicbox

David looks on while blowing smoke rings.

Stubbing out his cigarette he slips quietly back inside the hall.

INT. SMALL THEATRE HALL. DAY

The hall is sparse and medium sized.  Orange curtains drape the sides of the stage.  Stage lights shine brightly.

Cut to

A man in his late 50s called STEVEN and two girls who are of similar age to David seated away from the stage. They are in charge of the auditions.

Cut to

BRIAN a man in his late 50s standing near the back of the hall.  He wears a three piece suit, and a Crombie overcoat.  He looks over to David.

BRIAN 

Everything ok David.

DAVID 

All clear Brian.

Cut to

Steven who is rubbing his eyes

STEVEN

Next

Pause

Next

Pause

Cut to

Brian as he looks to the side of the stage. He nods his head.

NEX…..

A group of males, and females in their early to mid twenties hurl onto the stage as if they have been suddenly pushed.

We can hear the sounds of their low, heavy panting breath.

Cut to

CARLA who is seated next to Steven.  She has bobbed, brunette hair.  She is drawing in a sketch book

STEVEN(looking at the group)

And you are the ..erm

(He scrabbles desperately at his notes.)

oh um I’m afraid i’ve mislaid your name

(He looks at them for an answer then looks over to Carla. She is drawing a doodle of the dancers.)

Carla.  What’s their name?

(She shakes her head, and shows him her drawing then passes it to SARAH who is sitting on the other side of Steven.  Sarah is looking at the ends of her long hair.)

The notebook depicts gangly arms and legs.

o/s music

 An unidentified tinny Broadway tune kicks in and crackles around the hall.

STEVEN

Oh ..ok well let’s carry on then.

The dancers faces look waxen as they stare back at him with fear and confusion.

We’re ready.  We do have other people to see.(sing song irritated voice)

The dancers start to dance and sway slowly.

Steven crosses his arms and looks unimpressed.

Cut to

Dancer’s feet as they start to tap dance a bit faster before picking up speed.

Cut to

Carla as she draws faster with each movement of the dancers legs. She adds bulging eyes to their scrawled, scared faces.

Steven peers over at her drawing and back to the dancers.

Cut to 

Their legs as they start to soar into a big high-kicking number.

Impressed he makes notes.

Panic is etched on the dancers faces.

Cut to

BRIAN

(misty eyed)

Wonderful just wonderful….see..it’s coming together. I knew it would. What do ya think David?.

Cut to

Sarah as she watches Brian.

BRIAN

(angry hushed tones)

David. Come back..You’re not ready yet.

DAVID

I’m ready now

BRIAN

Get back ere.

David walks down the side of the hall towards the side of the stage.

Sarah watches him as he goes past.  They both look at each other.

He goes behind the curtain.

Cut to

The back of the stage.

We see a long rod hooked and threaded through the dancer’s costumes.

It is coiled tightly along their backs holding them all together.

As we go along the stage we see IAN.  He is also eighteen.  He has sandy blonde hair and has the look of determination in his face.

Ian manipulates the rod twisting, and turning it making the dancers move in time.

Sounds of their tap dancing feet gets louder and heavier.

David also starts to hold onto the rod.

IAN

Oi gerroff. Leave it ya prick. GERROFF.

DAVID

It’s better like this….see.  Look it’s better

They start to struggle with the rod.

Brian said I’m ready.

IAN

Bollocks

David moves the rod too fast. They jostle losing control of the rhythm

Cut to

Dancers moving erratically.  Their bodies nearly flip over themselves like floppy, weak rag dolls.

Cut to

Ian and David shoving each other whilst trying to control the dancers.

IAN

You Cockend you’ve ruined it.

David lets it go.

Cut to

A whirling dervish of dancers reel about the stage.

Cut to

Steven, Carla and Sarah transfixed.

STEVEN

I think we need to stop the music.

(The music is still playing.)

STOP THE MUSIC PLEASE.

Cut to

One of the male dancers

MALE DANCER

(pleading eyes)

HELP

Another dancer joins him

FEMALE DANCER

(sad eyes)

HELP

The dancers try to struggle free.

ALL OF THE DANCERS

Helppppppp ussssss…helpppppp  usssss

Their pleas reverberate around the hall.  The music plays on.

Steven puts his hands around his ears.

Cut to 

Sarah watching the door close as Brian vanishes out of the hall.

STEVEN

(hands on ears)

I can’t hear myself think..STOP THE MUSIC

The music stops suddenly.

Cut to 

David and Ian pulling the rod sharply.

The dancers still pleading tumble in one fast motion from the stage into an open box which slams shut.

Cut to

Black screen

o/s:  Car door slam. Exhaust.

INT. SMALL ROOM. SAME DAY. LATE EVENING

A wad of cotton wool and a glass bottle of amber liquid rests on a table.

Cut to

Brian’s eyes peering into the box from earlier.  We see glimpses of quilted purple lining.

Ian is eating peanuts.

BRIAN

(his back to Ian and David he is still looking in the box)

There’s no room for mistakes in show business.  Don’t let it happen again.

(Closing the box. He faces both of them.)

Every turn, every move has to be on the dime.  We….They nearly had the audience in the palm of their hand

NEARLY HAD THEM

(David sheepishly hands him the rod.)

BRIAN

Next time just watch Ian. He learnt from the best. (he grips David’s shoulder) Your time will come soon enough.  Ain’t that right Ian.

IAN

(talking with his mouthful)

Mmyeahm

Brian sits down with his back to both of them.  He opens up a large sketchbook.

BRIAN

See you tomorrow boys.  Bright and early.

(Brian looks at rough sketches of costume designs.)

EXT. SMALL COMMUNITY HALL CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING

Rows of parked cars.  People mill about talking.

Cut to

Close up

Reflections in car rearview mirror of dancers costumes as they head towards the hall.

Brian roughly sketches designs of their costumes in his book.

Ian and David are pissing about.  David throws a peanut at Ian’s head.  Ian tries to give him a dead arm.

DAVID

(laughing)

Arrggh

BRIAN

Cut it out you two.  We’re got business to attend to.

o/s.  The faint sounds of kicking from inside a box.