Combining dark comedy and gritty realism, film director Shane Meadows, who hails from Uttoxeter, has been described as 'Staffordshire's own Martin Scorsese'.
Born on Boxing Day in Uttoxeter in 1972, Shane Meadows definitely hasn’t forgotten his roots. In fact his films are mostly set in and around Staffordshire and the East Midlands (where he moved to at the age of 20).
Shane dropped out of school as a teenager, and after some random jobs and some studying at acting and photography, he volunteered himself at an art centre and began making short films. He was self-taught - courtesy of a borrowed camcorder and friends who doubled as actors.
After moving to Nottingham he enrolled on a performing arts course at Burton College, where he met friend (now Hollywood actor) Paddy Considine.
Shane’s work was spotted by a film scout in 1995, and he was approached to direct the TV documentary The Gypsy’s Tale. But it was the 60-minute film Small Time (1996) where he shot to prominence – his tale of two young lads into petty crime won the Michael Powell award at the 1996 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Bob Hoskins in Twentyfourseven
‘Small Time’ turned the heads of enough investors that Meadows was given enough money to make his first full length movie Twentyfourseven (1997). It’s a black and white film starring Bob Hoskins about attempts to help disaffected youngsters by opening a boxing club.
Much of the film was semi-autobiographical, drawing on Shane’s experiences growing up in Uttoxeter, and is a tragic tale with an emotional and poignant ending.It wasn’t a huge box office hit, but won critical acclaim and 12 awards.
His next movie Room for Romeo brass was also inspired by 2 years of his life, after his neighbour (and later collaborator) Paul Fraser had a bad accident. It meant he was bed ridden for 20 months, and Meadows spent his time hanging out with some of Uttoxeter’s more undesirable characters getting into petty crime.
The film stars best friend (now Hollywood actor) Paddy Considine in a fantastic performance of comedy and menace in equal measure.
Dead Mans Shoes
But it was in Dead Man’s Shoes where the two showed the peak of their talents to create a sinister, harrowing thriller about an ex soldier who returns to his hometown to exact revenge on people who abused his mentally handicapped brother.
It was inspired by Shane’s close friend who had been bullied, which led him to developing a drug problem, and eventually committing suicide.
From this point, Shane’s movie-making skills went from strength to strength with This is England, which won a Bafta for Best British Film.
Thomas Turgoose in This is England
Like much of his work, it’s the tale of an impressionable young lad growing up in a small town. He’s taken under the wing of a skin-head group in Grimsby just after the Falklands War.
It’s a powerful piece of work, and compelling viewing, especially for the performance of young star, Thomas Turgoose, who had never acted before landing the part.
He was discovered at a youth project in Grimsby for children excluded from school, and Shane dedicated the Bafta to him in his acceptance speech.
"I was a very naughty boy at his age and my life turned around over 20 years, a very steady progression. I took him from a worse place than I had ever been in and he turned his life around in six weeks," Shane said.
Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee
After working with Thomas Turgoose once more in 2008 on ‘Somers Town’, Shane teamed up again with Paddy Considine to resurrect a character they’d created in their teenage years, music roadie Le Donk.
Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee
He was based on a character the duo met while they were playing in a band at college. In the movie he teams up with Nottingham based rapper Scor-zay-zee who plays himself.
The movie was filmed with no script or screenplay, and next-to-no budget. It was also shot in just 5 days which inadvertently launched a project called 5 Day Features.
Shane, along with Mark Herbert of Sheffield-based Warp Films is encourage other directors to follow suit, and make a movie in a week.
He told the BBC’s Film 2009 show, “I know if I was 21 years old again trying to make films now, I wouldn’t get it going.”
“5 Day Features is all about raising money to get other people to make films in five days. When I was young the thought of taking 10 to 12 weeks to shoot a film was so daunting. But anyone can think ‘Making a film in five days - I can do that.’”
King of the Gypsies
Shane is also working on a feature film about the late Bartley Gorman, 'The King of the Gypsies'. He was a bare knuckle fighter who lived and fought in Shane's home town of Uttoxeter.
It's expected that Paddy Considine will play Bartley Gorman in the movie. The project has been more than 10 years in the making, with legal wranglings over the story, and script have holding it back.
Shane became interested in Bartley Gorman's story after filming a short 10 minute documentary for channel 4 about his life back in 1995 (which you can see on You Tube by clicking the link on the right hand side of this page).
last updated: 08/10/2009 at 14:55