Skins in This Is England
This Is England
Sheffield's Warp Films are the producers of another flick from award winning filmmaker Shane Meadows, his latest offering tells an often overlooked tale of 1980s England.
:: April 2007
Warp's Mark Herbert
Warp Films is the sister company of Warp Records, the Sheffield born label who are behind the triumphant Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Maximo Park, among others.
Mark Herbert, managing director of Warp Films is the producer behind one of the UK film industy's latest success. He started to work with Warp in 2002, My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117, directed by Chris Morris (The Day Today / Brass Eye) and produced by Mark was their first production and it won Mark a BAFTA in 2003. Prior to this Mark produced the critically acclaimed first series of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights.
Produced by Mark and Warp, This Is England is the latest film from award winning filmmaker Shane Meadows and is loosely based on his personal experience of growing up.
When speaking with Herbert early in 2006 he revealed the plot behind the Meadows film: "It starts off in 1983, on the first day of the Summer holidays and ends on the last day, about a young boy who's not got his dad around, lives with his mum, a bit bullied, a bit picked on.
Tommo stars in This Is England
"He meets a gang of skinheads and thinks 'fantastic'. He becomes part of the gang, and he's only 13 this lad, they [skinheads] think he's a bit cute, he gets his head shaved, gets the docs [Dr Martens] and everything, it's quite funny.
"Then one of the old skinheads comes out of prison half way through, and it all turns a little bit. It's the usual Shane style of very funny, then very dark within five minutes."
The actor for the lead character was plucked from a community project in Grimsby, making his screen debut in the film, Tommo [Thomas Turgoose], as he's known is expected to make a big impression with the audiences:
"It's like a Kes type performance that he's done, he had a laugh that was infectious... his laugh is fantastic, and he has a good relationship with Shane.
Combo: Changes the feel of the film
"Personally I've got a very good friendship with Shane. He makes things happen, and he’s got a voice. There's something very distinctive and original that only he does, he's very DIY and earthy as a filmmaker and that fits with Warp perfectly."
Snatch star Stephen Graham
Star of Guy Ritchie's Snatch playing Cockney Tommy, Graham was a target for Meadows from when the film was released. Graham had worked with Mark Herbert starring in the Arctic Monkeys video Scummy Man, and is set to star in another video for the Sheffield band.
Graham jumped at the chance to work with Meadows on this film when it was pitched to the actor: "That is the best thing I've ever heard in my life! I was blown away. It's not to do with colour so much, it's to do with identity and belonging."
80s icon Roland Rat
Meadows and life in the Eighties
Eighties England; a world of Roland Rat, aerobics, Blockbusters, Margaret Thatcher, the Falklands crisis, racial unease, and skinheads, Meadows draws heavily from his own experiences growing up.
When he was about 12-years-old Shane became a skinhead: "I thought the be all and end all in life was that kind of hard masculinity in men. I craved to be like a Jimmy Boyle, or a John McVicar, or a Kray. It's like kids who are into Beckham, I was into Jimmy Boyle in the same way. I wanted to see men fight, and there was an act of violence that I almost prompted, and that was something that became very difficult to live with."
For Shane making This Is England has become a way of exorcising the demons of that night of violence, but the impact of the experience can be seen across the body of his work.
All of his films deal with issues of masculinity, from the boys' boxing club of TwentyFourSeven to the compromised boyhood friendship in A Room For Romeo Brass, the question of male power structures and revenge in Dead Man's Shoes, through to the
"I always wanted to do King of the Gypsies, which is my boxing film. But I do need a certain amount of money. People think I'm putting it off but I'm not. If This is England went massive, I might be able to turn around to Channel 4 saying, 'I want £10m but I don't want any famous people in it', which is not a good equation for them!"
:: This Is England was released on 27 April, 2007. This article was written in April 2007.
last updated: 02/12/2008 at 13:27