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

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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

SSDD Film Review

“Sometimes we see people talk, but we don’t always hear them.”

Though the title might suggest a film mired in a cliché of social realism, where a backdrop of recession and the current economy are never far away, SSDD plays with those themes, but we get characters who are more than just one-dimensional working class stock. They are also part of the interspersed snatches of dialogue, where peppered conversations with people also form vignettes of the city. SSDD crackles with observational humour from exchanges in cafes about the theoretics of free speech, and later scenes with drug addled dealers that swiftly turn to paranoid ramblings.

The borough of Hackney, in East London is just as much of a central character as the people who live there. The multi-layered landscape of high-rise buildings, council estates, and the loft apartments all within reach of the moneyed, financial district of the City. Phil, (Richard Oldham) a squatter and former rioter and Lee (Samuel Anoyke) recently released from prison, work as security guards, relieving the tedium of the night shift with drugs and tales of the poll tax riots.

In an age of globalisation where wine bars, and gastro pubs have replaced community pubs, at the heart of the film there is a recurring sense of community. Pivotal scenes take place in a working men’s club as opposed to a pub, illustrating a setting where locals are regular customers brought together not just through class, and economic structure, but also through a fear of change. Trying to make sense of a recently reported suicide bomb in the city, Rick (Paul Marlon) taps into what he sees as relevant parallels with the film ‘ Conan the Barbarian.’ Holding court with a half drunk, but still lucid monologue he sees Conan as a folklore hero of the oppressed held under a brutal dictatorship. What could so easily have been an overwrought scene, in a lesser skilled director’s hands, Hall makes good use of the subtle underplay, with Marlon’s perfomance appearing effortless but still engaging.

SSDD explores the sense of loss that is not only attributed to life, but the loss of identity in a transient age.

Cast

Lee – Samuel Anoyke
Phil – Richard Oldham
Jermaine – Issac Ewulo
Rick – Paul Marlon
Sophie – Angela Hazeldine
Lynn – Clare Barry

Crew

Greg Hall – Director- http://www.brokebutmakingfilms.com

Becky Finlay-Hall – Producer – http://www.olivebranchtheatre.com

Nicholas Winter – Cinematography – http://www.porcelainfilm.com/

Jeet Thakrar – Sound – http://www.overthrowuk.com/

Original Score – Jehst -http://www.ynr-productions.co.uk/

Photos: Hannah Powell http://www.facebook.com/photo_search.php?oid=34055279235&view=all

For information on the films release please go to
http://www.brokebutmakingfilms.com

Conan The Barbarian 1982 – Director – John Milius

Greg Hall (Filmmaker) Interview


I met Greg Hall four years ago, after a screening of his short films at Portobello Film Festival’. We spoke about his début ‘The Plague’ made at the age of 22, and shot on a mini dv in three weeks on a budget of £3,500. We touched on the high ratio to low ratio of female producers to female directors, the singer Donovan and his filmmaking plans for the future.

His second feature ‘Kapital’ commissioned by ‘The Manchester International Festival’ is a dark, and uncompromising fable loosely based on four fairy tales. A collaboration between the acclaimed composer Steve Martland, who wrote the score without seeing the film, with the story edited to the music as a guide.

His third film – SSDD recently won best film (no budget feature) at the London International Independent Film Festival.

Interview with Greg Hall, Shortwave Cinema, London International Independent Film Festival – April 25th 2011.

YOU’VE SAID IN PAST INTERVIEWS THAT THE UK LACKS A REAL INDEPENDENT FILM SCENE, THERE’S NO SUPPORT, AND A TENDENCY FOR UK CINEMA TO CHURN OUT ANOTHER HODGE PODGE OF BRIT ROM COM.  DOES THE FAULT LIE AT A MAINSTREAM BRITISH PUBLIC WHO PREFER CINEMA TO BE A PATCHWORK OF REALITY TV, SOAP OPERA AND SITCOM?

Greg Hall: I think the audience kind of plays into the hands of accessible mainstream/soap/rom-coms. Michael Moore the documentary filmmaker has always said: “If you give some intelligence to an audience, they will rise to it, they will go away and they will research it”, so I think a lot of the times the filmmakers in the industry think of the audience as this dumb mass.  You can put ideas out there to an audience, not everyone may like it, some people might be challenged by it, but that’s a good thing. And people will go away and talk about it, debate about it and that’s as filmmakers what we should do, as artists, challenging an audience. I think a lot of it comes from advertising and demographics. This is the audience, they’re aged this to that…

Jennifer: They’re branded

Greg: It just lumps a load of people together.

Jennifer: Especially that age range from 18-35 years.

Greg: Exactly.  It doesn’t really work.  In generalisations it works and for people who want to make money for advertisers it does make sense, but fundamentally for someone like myself who makes cinema, I think my films will actually last longer than if I was just an advertiser thinking how do I make a quick buck because I’m making culture that I think will resonate with human beings (laughs). We are very intelligent people, and we shouldn’t be treated any differently?

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN UK CINEMA SINCE YOU MADE YOUR DEBUT FEATURE ‘THE PLAGUE’?

Greg: Someone about two months ago raised the point that the film ‘Annuvahood’ has just come out, and about the whole idea that the Urban genre has come of age, they pointed out that ‘The Plague’ was the almost like the first film, it was before ‘Bulletboy’ it was before ‘Kiddulthood,’ They were asking me about how did I think that genre had panned out. I think Urban is a bad kind of label.

Jennifer: Especially in terms of music

Greg: Sometimes it’s a euphemism, it means Black.  I think things have changed a lot in the UK, but I still think it’s commercially minded so even though the urban drama may have seen a big explosion with funding it doesn’t fundamentally mean that interesting filmmakers that challenge the way we think will come through.  I think all it means is there has been another avenue to make money.  That’s the problem with the British film industry is that it’s so focused around just trying to copy the American example but in a bad way; because at least in America they have a very strong underground, whereas in the UK there is a real schism between support for the underground contrasted to that of the mainstream.

Jennifer: With the success of Shaun of The Dead, you now see Zombie films and other derivatives of that.

Greg: I think you get a pattern of that every five years.  You will get one big British film, and then get five or six imitations. I don’t really pay too much attention to that personally. I take influence from cinema, books, music and the people who I’m around.

AS A UK FILMMAKER BASED IN LONDON ARE YOU LOOKING TO MAKE FILMS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE UK THAT ARE RARELY SEEN ON THE SCREEN?

Greg: I’m not against that, my second feature ‘Kapital’ was made in Manchester because it was funded through the Manchester International Festival. At the moment, I see myself making films in Britain, I’ve kept to London because that’s what I know, and that’s where I live.  I see that very much as part of who I am. I wouldn’t turn down making a film across the country or anywhere on the planet.  As a filmmaker the themes I’m looking at are very universal, and even when I’m making films about London as a city, it’s definitely a universal approach I’m taking to it.  I just think I’m a no budget filmmaker (laughs) so I don’t get too many offers.

YOU’VE READ THE KORAN AND THE BIBLE.  ARE YOU INFLUENCED MORE BY TEXT THAN BY WATCHING OTHER DIRECTOR’S FILMS?

Greg: Yeah I have read the Koran and the Bible but I’ve also read many other books, so I wouldn’t say I was influenced by religion per se, but definitely by books and reading, other art forms, whether it’s comic book art or installations. Politics is probably the main influence, whether it’s community organising or anti-fascist mobilisations, being out at demos protesting etc.  I take a lot of influences from life, but I would say in the past two years I’ve made more of a concerted effort, watching more films, and to get to know more directors, and there are wonderful directors out there who are mainstream, and who really influence me.

Jennifer: Any particular directors?

Greg: Wes Anderson.  I think the way he makes films is very much like a book, there’s a literature sense, clear chapter points, also British directors like Peter Watkins, who did fake documentaries such as ‘Punishment Park’ and ‘The War Game’, heavily influences me. But whenever people ask me to name directors I go blank….I’m like uh…..

Jennifer: There’s too many I suppose.

Greg: Yeah

HOW WAS THE PLAGUE VIEWED IN OTHER COUNTRIES? WHAT REACTIONS DID YOU GET, ESPECIALLY AS IT WASN’T A HERITAGE TOURISM PERIOD DRAMA OR A PLUCKY BRITS IN CRISIS SCENARIO TYPE FILM? I’M, PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN HOW AMERICAN AUDIENCES RESPONDED.

Greg: I only screened once in America in New York, and it went down really well, and there was actually a guy there who was a lecturer of film studies at New York University I think, and he loved it, and wanted to use it and show it alongside films like ‘Babylon’  a British film from the 80s.  In Austria, it showed at a squatted venue with skater kids. Even in places like Sarajevo there is an audience, it’s bizarre we talk about globalization, and globalization of culture, there’s definitely a youth culture or an underground culture, and I think with a film like ‘The Plague’ they see it was made for no money, and people are generally attracted to it like that; and it was made from the streets, it’s anti-authoritarian and you are ticking a lot of boxes in people’s books no matter where they are from on the planet really, but it has mainly shown throughout Europe, and I remember showing it in Berlin and there was a French guy who couldn’t speak a word of English and he had to say this through a translator and he said; “I didn’t understand a word that they said, but that was just like where I live.”

Jennifer: It’s not just about dialogue but you can see how the characters react

Greg: Those universal themes with people struggling and striving, and that resonates with people.

Jennifer: That must have made you feel pretty good to hear that response.

Greg: Definitely…definitely

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH FILM THAT HASN’T BEEN DONE BEFORE?

Greg: Everything that I try to do with film I would hope hasn’t been done before, but it probably has, and that’s why I do it.  I think I said earlier the reason I make films is because I’m dissatisfied with the representations within British cinema, so I would definitely hope that I’m challenging an audience’s views, and pushing the envelope of what is accepted within cinema, especially British cinema., cos I’m British that’s what I’m operating from.  I wouldn’t say I have any great thesis or this is what I’m doing that’s so unique. A lot of the times I say that I steal from people, whether it’s from books, other films, that’s what culture is about, an amalgamation of different influences. So really it’s not so much as about doing something new, but I hope I’m pulling together elements that haven’t been pulled together before.

CAN YOU GIVE ME A LIST OF THE FIVE RULES OF SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION?

Greg: Wow…um..shameless self-promotion.  I don’t know, people have accused me of shameless self-promotion, but I don’t think there are any rules.  I mean times have changed since I first started making films, I think nowadays with things like YouTube, Twitter and all that, which I’m really behind……

Jennifer: What do you think of Vimeo?

Greg: Yeah Vimeo is a great video hosting site.  There’s a whole new load of tools for people to use now, and I think they could probably tell me more about self-promoting because my company is ‘Broke but Making Films’ and most people are like “Why are you broke and you should have made money by now”, so I don’t know. I self promote to the point of wanting people to come and see my films, but that’s about it, I don’t self promote any further than that.  Sorry I don’t think I can think of any rules.

WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T WORK IN FILM?
Greg: I’ve always said the best judge of my films is myself, and I took that thing from the documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman who said: “Fuck the audience. I use myself to judge whether something works or not.” And I think personally that’s the reason I got motivated  to make films, when I make films that’s how I judge it, if I like it and I think it’s good. Obviously there is still an element of you wanting other people to watch, and what they’re going to make of it ….

Jennifer: You have to be selfish don’t you.

Greg: Yeah, but I do think why are you doing it otherwise, and not just to please other people, but to please myself because I don’t feel that, that film or that style of cinema is out there, so therefore it’s about what I like so that is really what I think I try, and judge with what works. I’m always learning, and I’m always seeing different films, seeing different art forms, and learning, and taking things from that, but yeah definitely I would be the best judge of what works, and what doesn’t work, and I would say that to any filmmaker …..

Jennifer: I think that’s how most filmmakers work isn’t it

Greg: Yeah that’s the way they should work…

Jennifer: You make the film you want to make, but it’s a bonus if someone else likes it

Greg: Exactly. You know you’re not mental (laughs)

Jennifer: Yeah like a one man crusade.

THE UK FILM COUNCIL REJECTED FUNDING FOR ‘THE PLAGUE’.  AT THE TIME YOU SAID THAT THEY WERE INTO THEIR DEMOGRAPHICS.  DO YOU HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THE DEMISE OF THE UK FILM COUNCIL?
Greg:  There’s definitely issues within the industry of how they bring the new kind of filmmakers through, but then in the same breath at least with the film council they were established so that they could develop, and I know they were trying to reach out, and trying to change things, and I think by scrapping it totally, and moving it somewhere else was a bad move. It just felt like another Tory cut really, and that’s the reason behind it. I kind of like the idea that if it went back to the British Film Institute, but I’m not filled with confidence about where they move that money to, and I do think removing something like the film council, no matter how much I criticised it, at least it was there and then it’s not. I have to be careful as well, as we’re hoping to get a little bit of money from the film council for my new film, so maybe one day they will fund me before they go ,…..

Jennifer: Do you think the Tory Government see art as a luxury?

Greg: The Tories have always kind of seen it like that, but then fundamentally I’m an anarchist, as artists we show these universal themes, and we look at areas that other people don’t want to look at, we go into the grey area where government, and the media will want to paint issues as being very black and white.  I think as artists we very much go through an individual kind of journey…..

Jennifer: You’ve got to show the grey haven’t you.

Greg: And we show the grey. We venture into the grey. We are the grey that’s where we exist as artists, we’re many things and we can’t be pigeonholed, and we as artists, we challenge that, and we should always challenge it, and therefore, personally as an anarchist, I don’t see why any government would want to support art. A lot of the times they do support art in the hope that it’s going to be …..

Jennifer: That they will get something out of it.

Greg: Exactly, I think all artists shouldn’t be aligned to any kind of political group, but fundamentally I think that’s what we need to do, we need to communicate, connect, and governments don’t really want the masses of people to do that, to think for ourselves or discuss these things.  I think the truest art, true filmmakers, and cinema is a forum for us to think about things, it’s a philosophy at the end of the day, it’s modern day philosophy. I  think any philosopher worth their salt will go to the point of questioning why there’s a government, and a divide between rich and poor, and a massive divide between the rich being a tiny élite, and the poor, basically, and the rest of us. I don’t get it really. It doesn’t make sense to me.

WHAT PROMPTED THE SAHARA LIBRE EXPERIENCE?

Greg: My producer Becky who’s also my sister, her company Olive Branch Theatre took herself and two other actors out there to the refugee camps to devise a theatre piece with young guys living on the camps and create a performance and perform that to the rest of the camp. They asked me if I wanted to go along, and I went out there with them, in sixteen days I shot about 52 hours of footage, I’m editing that at the moment and that’s just a documentary to give away, to put it online.  I was documenting them creating this theatre piece which is devised from the young people’s experiences I didn’t want it to be – oh here’s a documentary and we’re following these people from Britain and their experience – I wanted it to be about the play that they create and then break that down and through that narrative show the history of the Sahara camps from the 70s when it used to be the Spanish Sahara, the war with Morocco and the current situation, they’re in at the moment. I just got tagged along, and I ended up having an amazing experience…….

Jennifer: It must have been quite an interesting experience

Greg: mind-blowing….mind blowing. Being in the Sahara desert in a refugee camp.  I’m cutting that now, and hope to take it back out there and screen it as well,and hoping to do some film workshops with a film collective.  There’s a lot going on….

Jennifer: That’s still going on then

Greg: Yeah.  I think it will always be going on, as long as the refugee camps are there. I think once you’ve been, and you meet people and you make friends with those people you can’t turn your back on them.  I think I’ll be back out there……

Jennifer: You can’t just take and then that’s it.

Greg: Yeah it’s not a case of me just going there, and bam, I’ve got my film and I’m gone. It’s an investment there, you know people, and I hope to get out there soon…

Jennifer: How did they respond to you?

Greg: They’re the most warmest, and friendliest people.  We stayed with people in the camps..Yeah it was mind blowing.  Glad to get back, and be able to use a proper toilet, that was the main thing and not have to use a hole, but apart from that it was amazing.  They are relying on international law to help them out, and as an anarchist, I don’t really think international law is going to help them, and it’s really depressing, but human beings are human beings, they’re beautiful creatures, and families with children, and that’s the face of what I’ve seen within the refugee camps, and that’s why I’ll be going back because I know people, and have personal ties with people, and international politics aside I just hope there’s freedom for every single human being on this planet. We shouldn’t be born into slavery, and we basically do live within a monetary slavery at the moment.

Photo – Hannah Powell http://www.facebook.com/photo_search.php?oid=34055279235&view=all
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Main Cast

SNAPSHOTS -Focus
ATMOSPHERE – Engaging
LANGUAGE – Rhythm
HUMANISM – Conflict
IMAGES – Captivating
DIALOGUE – Show not Tell or Show and Tell (not sure about this) the everyday, ordinary, extraordinary and banal.
FOOTAGE – Art not commerce
75MM – The Golden Age of Cinema
THE IDEA – An outline
REAL – Imaginary
MOODS – Textures
PORTRAIT – Colours, (see above Moods)
FOOTAGE – Record, play, Repeat.
CONCEPT – Change the formula
AUDIENCE – Manipulate
WATCH – Voracious
LISTEN – Ambient
FRAME – Projected
DREAMS – Space and time
CHARACTERS – Observation
COLLABORATION – Risk or Spark. Fuck or fight.

Al-Jolson in White Face.