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Q) Tell us about the character you play in This Is England.
Q) Do you play a violent part in This Is England as you always seemed to be the one kicking off in Operation Good Guys? (asked by Deadmansrockports)
A) The character I play is called Megg, he is an adult that hangs around kids and talks absolute crap, the type of sad human being that does so because probably no other adults would take him seriously. He's a bit of a nonce case really, and although he is there when violent things happen I wouldn't really describe him as violent. Not likeable though.

Q) How did you find out about the part? Did you hear of the part, or did Shane contact you?
A) I was contacted by Shane and was asked to do a film called Monkey Trap (which later became Sweet Maria) with him and Paddy, but unfortunately this particular project didn't come to fruition, as is often the way in the world of film.

perry benson

Q) What was the audition process like? Was it unusual in anyway?
A) The audition process was more a mixture of begging letters, stalking, and threats, until in the end we came to a familiar arrangement it seems with Shane of: 'three sacks of pignuts and a case of mungo cola'.

Q) Was there much rehearsal time and characer preparation, and if so what kind of things did it entail?
Did you get to meet cast and crew before filming? (asked by Saffy)
A) The rehearsal process for me was more a case of what we call rehearse/film, which is basically on the day of filming we have a chat with Shane and run through a scene a few times often in very different ways: On set with no camera, or crew, then bring the camera and crew in and film the scene over and over covering all the necessary angles.


Q) How was it working under Shane's direction compared to other work? (asked by Saffy)
A) Shanes great to work with, in comparison to other directors I've worked with he's very easy going and hard working, although I've been mostly fortunate with the people I've worked with over the years!

Q) How much do plots and stories change during the filming? Do you have any influence on how scenes you're involved in are shaped and as a result the way the film itself develops?
Q) Is the dialogue between characters developed as you work on the film or is there a script to work with? (asked by Sparrowface)
A) The plots don't change too drastically as you're answerable to a large extent to the people that fund the film, i.e. Film Four, and what they call the bond company (these are the films underwriters or insurers). If the films plot is changed too much they start to get a little twitchy as this can have a large knock-on effect with the budget, although they have to remain open to the creative process I suppose. If you are the producer, making films is scary, it's like trying to manage an accident.
On the question of dialogue it is mostly improvised. There is a script but it's more a description of plot with sample dialogue.


Q) If you have been privy to seeing the recent cuts of the film, how have they compared to your expectations? (asked by Saffy)
A) I haven't been privy to any of it yet, though the reports have been good.

Q) What appealed to you about a Shane Meadows script? Would you like to work with Shane again? (asked by Saffy)
A) Well as I mentioned earlier I was involved in another project with Shane and Paddy which is still on the back burner as far as I know, so yes I would like to work with him again.


Q) I really loved Operation Good Guys and Love Honour & Obey, do you think you'll work with Ray Burdis and Dominic Anciano again? Are there any plans in the pipeline? (asked by David Smith)
Q) I'm a big fan of your work. You seem to have been around since the dawning of time. Even though your parts are small (no no) you're always memorable. Will you be doing anymore work with Burdis and Anciano?. Oh and when is Cheeky being released? (asked by Jenny)
Q) Is there ever going to be any more Operation Good Guys?!?! Please say yes. (asked by Mark Sherbert)
A) I recorded a non broadcast pilot with Ray Burdis just before Christmas, but Ray and Domonic went their separate ways in business around 6 years ago now, and I can almost definitely say that there will be no more Operation Good Guys, unless Shane wants to make the film version (bit like On The Buses, or Dads Army). I don't think "Cheeky" is going to be released as far as I know.

perry and cast

Q) What have you learned from your time working with Shane both in life lessons and film making. Any desires to write or direct yourself? (asked by Morell)
A) I take great pleasure in learning little things from everyone I work with or socialise with. Shane is one the greats the Cecil B DeMille of Uttoxeter, and on the subject of directing I don't have any plans to follow in his footsteps at this juncture.

Perry Benson



Q) Tell us about the character you play in This Is England.
A) The Character I play in 'This Is England' is Cynthia Marie Fields, Shaun's mum. Cynthia is in her early 30's, a housewife and a mother. She comes from a northern, working class background. Has a younger brother. Her mother died when she was 14 yrs old, leaving her to look after her father and brother. She met Shaun's Dad at school, courted for a few years then got married at 18. Cynthia got pregnant shortly after. Shaun was her first and only child. Her father was a strict man, but she had a good relationship with him. Cynthia's upbringing was normal and happy until she lost her mother. Cynthia is an honest and loving mother and she loves Shaun more than anything in the world.
That is all I can offer at the mo, don't want to tell you too much about her as it will spoil the movie.

Q) What was the audition process like? Was it unusual in anyway? Any differences between This Is England and Dead Man's Shoes?
A) The audition process for 'This Is England' was similar to 'Dead Man's Shoes', but not identical. We started around June/July 2005, (if I'm not mistaken). Firstly Shane will have thought through who he has in mind to play certain characters. He will piece people together at different stages of casting. Instead of asking us to read a from a script, he uses improvisation; I enjoy this because it gives me chance to think on my feet and I like thinking about what I'm saying rather than what I am reading. After a workshop, he knows instantly whether you have the ability to play that character or not and can tell what you personally can bring to the role, etc.

For 'This Is England' Shane invited me to a workshop in Nottingham. There were around 13/14 young boys at the same audition. I ran through a short scene from the script with each boy, improvising and doing it slightly different each time as my chemistry with each boy was different. Shane did not go into too much detail about anything before the meeting, but seemed pleased afterwards. He is always piecing together to see how things evolve. I was then invited to further workshops, to help him cast Shaun, and we went from there. He doesn't ask us to be a tree or anything like that. Well, he hasn't yet but he is full of surprises.

Q) Was there much rehearsal time and characer preparation, and if so what kind of things did it entail?
Q) Did you get to meet cast and crew before filming? (asked by Saffy)
A) Yes, I met all the cast before filming, but not the crew. Once all the cast were in place, we rehearsed for one week before the shoot. Shane filmed rehearsals to get everyone used to having a camera stuck in their mush, and for EPK (extra footage, DVD extras etc).

Rehearsals were intense, but it gave everyone the chance to go for it and get warmed up before the shoot. Shane never likes to kill a moment, so does not necessarily rehearse the script (although the improvisations will be linked to the story in some way). He asks us all to create back stories for our characters so they have depth. We play games and improvise situations. Sometimes you get chance to improvise with characters you may never even meet in the film. It can be tough but it brings your shit to the table. It's great for development of characters.

Shane is very supportive and encouraging; he is an actor's director so he works really closely with you once your cast. He will throw different situations at you to get reactions, anything is possible, but he already knows by the time he has cast you what you are capable of and has a very clever tactic of drawing it from you (don't ask me how, I'm not sure, but he does. He's a tad psychic, not like mystic Meg or anything, he just understands people!) He helps with character development and is open to suggestions if they are honest and necessary to serve the story, so when I asked him if could turn into a cowgirl bank robber at the end of This Is England, he winded me!.. Just kidding!

Q) How much do plots and stories change during the filming? Do you have any influence on how scenes you're involved in are shaped and as a result the way the film itself develops?
Q) Is the dialogue between characters developed as you work on the film or is there a script to work with? (asked by Sparrowface)
A) Things do slightly change sometimes during filming, but only to serve the story. Shane is very organic, but he is in total control of where the script is going at all times. He is open to suggestions and listens to his natural instincts but his vision is very strong. When we turn up on set to do a scene, we rehearse the scene for Shane. We look at the scene together but if it does not feel comfortable, Shane will then guide us into a different mindset, until it works, still achieving the point of the scene, but approaching it through a different doorway. Although he allows actors to improvise, they must always reach the point of the scene, not just make things up as they go along. I think that is why ultimately his films are so realistic, he has surprises. Shane allows you to sing his lyrics with your voice.


Q) How did you find it working so closely with younger actors, especially Tomo?
Were you apprehensive at all before meeting and working with them?
A) The majority of my scenes were with Tomo (Shaun); we pretty much bonded in the early stages of filming. I let him know he could count on me and I was honest with him. We got on well. It's hard to explain, but we had a mutual respect for each other, so I think we were very comfortable, happy and open. Tomo used to call me most nights after he finished shooting just to tell me how his day had gone. Sometimes he would come over with his mum or chaperone (Al) so we could hang out. We were honest and supportive with each other; he kept me on my toes. A very intelligent little soul.

The first time I met Tomo was in Grimsby at his audition. Shane brought him into the room and we began to improvise this situation. He just knocked me off my scent straight away, bam! Like a massive wake up call!. When he left, Shane looked at me and I was confused. I wanted to cry, I think I nearly did. That's when Shane said…"that's Shaun." Unbelievable. I couldn't remember what he had just said or anything, Shane just knew. I was gobsmacked.

All the other kids were brilliant, each one different and really charismatic. I enjoyed meeting them all. So, not apprehensive at all, in fact I learnt so much from all the kids. It was crackers. Cherished memories.

Q) If you have been privy to seeing the recent cuts of the film, how have they compared to your expectations? (asked by Saffy)
A) I have only seen limited footage, and by now the edit will have developed a lot further. I saw it in its very early stages. However, that cut exceeded my expectations more than I could ever imagine, so I am really excited about the finished film.

Q) What appeals to you about a Shane Meadows script? (asked by Saffy)
A) I relate to his scripts for a number of reasons. His honesty, humour, realism, sensitivity. Shane tells stories that mean something to him, and when you are the creator you have to have a reason, or passion is lost. They are often about life situations we all relate too at some point or other, things that matter to human beings. Love, life, conscience, regret, happiness, friendship, betrayal, revenge.

I feel Shane's scripts will take a different direction as he develops and gets older, but he will always tell a touching story that has meaning to him. It's never just for the sake of it, or too far fetched. They always go somewhere, and hit home to me. He keeps his stories simple, and tells it like it is. Answering questions for some people, whilst making others feel confusion.
He always involves meaty, comical characters in his scripts. Bringing light/humour to the darkest situations. I relate to a lot of things he has to say. His movies are always very interesting and you never know where they will go. Surprises when you least expect them. I always love the music he chooses for his soundtracks.

Q) In Northern Soul I personally love the scene with you and Toby where he says, "is it cos I wanna be a wrestler?!" and you say, "well its partly that.." and he shouts, "ITS TOTALY THAT!". Cracks me up every time! Anyway more to the point. For the shooting of that scene, did you find it hard not to laugh at Toby?? if so how many takes did it take do get it right?
PS great performances in both DMS and NS, welldone :) (asked by RyD22)
Q) Do you have any problems with corpsing (trying not to laugh) in general?
A) Hello RyD22, I did laugh at Toby, the first time he said 'It's totally that!'.. I think, but with the beauty of film I got to do it again, and again and again and again, ha ha…. No seriously, I think we did a couple of takes. I can't honestly remember but I know I laughed a lot, so did Shane! Thank you for your kind comments about the performances, it means a lot, ill try my best to keep it up. Cheers dude.

In general, sometimes, yes! If a line tickles me, I can't help it, but obviously when your filming, you don't want to piss everyone off too much so you try hard to concentrate (or I think about Margaret Thatchers knickers, that usually makes me look worried! He He.

Q) Has working with Shane on three well recieved films/shorts opened doors for more role offers from other casting directors? Do you intend to keep acting for Shane if he has roles for you? (asked by Morell)
A) Yes, I have been introduced and had increased interest from more influential casting directors, but as of yet it has not opened me up to any future projects, that I know of. I hope it does. However I think at the moment I am just laying the foundations of my career. Gaining more experience, and understanding myself as an actress, hopefully to give me the strength to make the correct decisions in the future.

I would like to be offered interesting and challenging roles, and have the opportunity to work with talented people, whether it is Shane or other directors of his standard, but you do have to earn it. Proving myself and gaining respect from people in this industry is something I would be happy with. Quality, rather than quantity.

I recently was invited to a Moonstone Lab in Wexford Ireland (like Sundance). That was great fun and I met some really good directors. However it was just like a weekend workshop for first time directors.
If Shane ever asked me to work with him again, the answer would be yes, of course. I will always want to work with Shane. He's one of my favourite directors and a good egg!

cast this is england

Q) In Dead Man's Shoes, I find the sequence you are involved in with flashbacks to Anthony's torture at Riber Castle extremely emotional because your reactions seem so real. Is this the result of the way the film developed and was shot (as all reactions seem to be so genuine throughout)? Or are you just shit hot at acting (obviously)?! (asked by Sparrowface)
A) The reactions you see on my face are genuine reactions to my husband Mark (Paul Hurstfield) telling me the story of what happened to Anthony (Toby Kebbell). I was completely in the moment. We sat on the stairs and he just told me that story. I reacted to him as any decent, strong wife and mother of two young sons would react. I thought of them going through it, I thought of them being hurt like that and it really upset me.

I got to spend time with Matt, Craig and Mark, so while we were off set, I just pretended they were all my boys. I followed my instinct. Listening closely to everything Mark (Paul Hurstfield) was saying, in my character.

I had no idea Shane would be editing the film in that way. Nothing like that ever crossed my mind. Its better to not know what is going on, because in reality you wouldn't. I was never on set when the other cast were filming, so I had little idea of what really went on. The emotion amongst cast and crew was enough to feed me what I needed and also a few little private thoughts which I can't disclose or I would have to kill you… he he. I'll tell you something though, I had goose bumps on the back of my neck when I did the scene at the door with Paddy, he really unnerved me, such a strong presence. You learn a lot from your piers I guess.

Q) What have you learned from your time working with Shane both in life lessons and film making? (asked by Morell)
Q) Any desires to write or direct yourself? (asked by Morell)
A) Wow, what have I learnt from my time working with The Meadoz?…'That no matter how much you give to Charity, you can't cleanse your soul'…. No, seriously, I have learned that dreams are achievable with very hard work & focus. To be confident about what I'm tryin to say in my work. He is extremely giving and supportive. He makes me question myself, when we are working together.

Doing things for the right reason will always help you grow. Being patient. Crumbs, it's tough to write it all down. I've learned so much about myself on a personal and professional level. On the professional level, I have learnt just to be myself as an actress. Believe.

Once I read an interview with Paddy and it said "Shane makes the world feel the size of a tennis ball" (words to that effect)… it made me smile, because it was such a cool way of describing him, but he does. He's just a much understated, intelligent man. Funny, giving, sensitive, down to earth, he's taught me to be a better person and a better actress. Oh, and he taught me how to use a boxing bag and train like a fighter! He he.
I enjoy writing, not sure how good I am at it. My mind tends to wander, just like when I'm reading. I've never really finished a piece. I write from time to time to exercise creative frustrations. I'd love to write a comedy series. I recently enquired about a couple of writing courses, but no big plans yet. No plans to direct either.

Q) What else have you been involved in that we may have missed? What is coming up? (asked by Sparrowface)
A) Shortly after filming This Is England I appeared in 'Barney has the Blues' a short film by writer director Paul Fraser! Coming soon! Other than that, I'm just waiting for 'This Is England' to come out now. Very excited about it.

Thanks so much for all your interesting questions they were great, they really made me think lots. Cheers!

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