Tomboy Films and Mother Vision
a Big Arty production of a Shane Meadows film
RELEASED BY OPTIMUM RELEASING – 22 August 2008 TBC
RUNNING TIME – 72 mins
CERTIFICATE - TBC
Marek - PIOTR JAGIELLO
Tommo - THOMAS TURGOOSE
Marius - IRENEUSZ CZOP
Maria - ELISA LASOWSKI
Graham - PERRY BENSON
Jane - KATE DICKIE
DIRECTOR - SHANE MEADOWS
PRODUCER - BARNABY SPURRIER
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS - GREG NUGENT, NICK MERCER, ROBERT SAVILLE
WRITER - PAUL FRASER
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - NATASHA BRAIER
PRODUCTION DESIGNER - LISA MARIE HALL
EDITOR - RICHARD GRAHAM
PRODUCTION MANAGER - ERICA BENSLY
ORIGINAL MUSIC - GAVIN CLARKE
COSTUME DESIGNER - JO THOMPSON
MAKE-UP DESIGNER - SARAH GRUNDY
CASTING DIRECTORS - SUE POCKLINGTON, LOUISE KNIGHT
SCRIPT SUPERVISOR - NICOLETTA MANI
SOMERS TOWN went into production in September 2007 and was filmed on location in London.
Two teenage boys, adrift in an adult world develop a mutual trust and acceptance through an unlikely friendship.
SHORT SYNOPSIS *SPOILERS*
Tommo, just turned sixteen and released from social care, runs away to London from a lonely, difficult life in the Midlands. Marek, a Polish immigrant, lives with his father, who drinks with his friends most evenings after working on a construction site. Marek is a keen photographer, quiet and sensitive - he is not comfortable in his father’s world.
Both struggle to make sense of their new world and a chance meeting in Somers Town, London, leads the two to form an unexpected partnership. Unknown to his father, Marek begins hiding Tommo in his flat and the two boys begin to earn money from an entrepreneurial and eccentric neighbour, Graham. Maria, the French waitress at their local café, already a photographic muse for Marek, now becomes more of an obsession for the two boys and the centre of all their attention.
When Maria suddenly leaves their lives, the two boys are bereft. Tommo and Marek seek escape through an evening of drunken abandon, but are discovered by Marek’s father, who throws Tommo out and all seems lost.
Shot in black and white in contemporary central London, Somers Town shows that in alienating urban environments and fractured family relationships, redemption is found through friendship.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT: Shane Meadows
“During the last year or so travelling from Nottingham to London by train, it was amazing watching the changes happening around the St Pancras area and the idea of making a short film that was set in this period of transition was immediately attractive. It was the first film I have made in London and I wanted to try and capture both the familiarity and the strangeness of the place. In a funny way it has also become a much more cosmopolitan production than my previous work, with a cast from Poland, France and the UK and an Argentinean DoP. It’s an exciting prospect to take all of these elements and produce a piece of work that stays true to the philosophy and method of working that I have developed in all my previous films. The fact that what was conceived as a short film has evolved into a longer piece has made the whole thing a really rewarding experience”
Somers Town was an idea born out of the regeneration of the area around Kings Cross and St Pancras in central London.
Paul Fraser wrote what was initially a short film script, which approached the subject through the eyes of two boys, both recent arrivals in London. When Shane Meadows came on board as director, his particular working method laid the ground work for an expanded story that would use improvised performances grown organically out of an intensive rehearsal timetable, as well as the written script that in turn evolved throughout this process. During this time, Paul’s short film script developed into a full length story.
Pre-production started in August with casting in Nottingham, London and Warsaw and location scouting in London. The location was always to be centred on Somers Town, the historic area of London almost defined by the existence of the 3 railway termini of Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross. Wanting to create a sense of the immediacy of this neighbourhood, all of the locations chosen were within a few hundred yards of one another, with local people acting as extras and all of the interior locations being found within the community.
Once Natasha Braier joined the team as Director of Photography, the decision to shoot in black and white was finalised – something that Shane had been committed to since the beginning of the project. Shane, Natasha, and Lisa Marie Hall, the production designer, felt that Black and White would give the film a cohesive quality, pulling together the many different textures, shapes and forms that fill Somers Town. In particular it seemed a way of uniting the modernity and disruption of the huge construction business that was then in full swing, with the more timeless aspects of Somers Town as a long-standing community.
Whilst Paul Fraser had delivered a detailed script based on his original concept, the film developed considerably during production itself. Every scene was carefully and extensively rehearsed and improvised with the actors before the film crew became involved, and the schedule was painstakingly structured to allow the director to shoot the whole film in chronological story sequence. Shane was particularly committed to allowing scenes to be filmed as one continuous take, frequently lasting the length of a roll of 16mm film (10 minutes). To aid editing and allow for necessary coverage two cameras were used on most days. Early in the shoot, a scene that was a quarter of a page of dialogue took nearly 6 hours to film and represents about 4 minutes of screen time! The result gives the finished piece an immediacy and naturalness rarely found in films – particularly those featuring younger actors.
Once principle photography was finished Shane began the editing process in Nottingham. Closely involved in all aspects of the post-production, he sometimes worked on his own, or sometimes with his editor, Richard Graham, on both the sound and the picture and he is in control of every cut and every sound cue. His old friend Gavin Clarke was working on his first solo album at the time, and became involved with the film at the very beginning of the editing process – indeed Shane already had some of Gavin’s tracks in mind whilst he was shooting the film. The result is a haunting and lyrical soundtrack, which will see Gavin’s solo career launched to a much wider audience, supported, it is hoped, by a soundtrack album release containing of all the songs that appear in the film.
THE CASTING PROCESS
Casting for the film took place in three centres – the Midlands for Tommo’s character, London for Marek, Marius and the other key parts and also in Warsaw for Marek and Marius. At first we thought it would be easy to cast the Polish parts in London given the large number of Polish families now living in London. Casting sessions were held in the Polish Centre in West London, and advertisements placed in Polish language newspapers. Widening their scope to Poland itself, the director and producer held sessions in Warsaw which eventually resulted in the casting of newcomer Piotr Jagiello and the celebrated theatre actor, Ireneusz Czop. In the meantime, Kate Dickie and Shane Meadows, who had already met at various film festivals while celebrating their respective successes with Red Road (directed by Andrea Arnold and starring Kate) and This Is England, met once more at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival where Shane discussed Somers Town with Kate for the first time. Excited by the idea of the project, she quickly agreed to be involved and, despite some tricky scheduling, was able to commit to the shooting dates.
Whilst both the writer, Paul Fraser, and the director, Shane Meadows, had always felt that Thomas Turgoose would be ideal for the role of the English boy, extensive casting was carried out in the Midlands by Louise Knight. Once a shortlist of possible actors for all of the roles, including some possible Polish actors who lived in London, had been agreed, two full days of workshops were organised and attended by everyone. Through a process of workshops and improvisations, Shane was able to develop a sense of the dynamics between the actors and to decide which relationships and performances best described the characters envisaged by Paul Fraser and himself.
Once this process was complete, all key members of the cast were in place. Further intensive rehearsal days were then organised to take place in Somers Town itself so that the characters, script and location could all be developed against the same backdrop and with the same integrity.
ABOUT THE CAST
Thomas Turgoose / Tommo
Thomas Turgoose is an award-winning English film and television actor.
In his first ever film role, he played the lead character, Shaun, in This Is England written and directed by Shane Meadows. His performance won the 2006 British Independent Film Awards honour for Most Promising Newcomer (On Screen).
On television he has played the character Dizzy, a young boy mentored by Adam Solomons (Luke Treadaway), in the 2006 BBC drama series The Innocence Project.
Turgoose will appear in the forthcoming film Eden Lake, directed by James Watkins.
Piotr Jagiello / Marek
Piotr was born in Warsaw and has been acting since the age of ten. He has had roles in a number of Polish TV shows. Still only 16, Somers Town is his first English language film.
Ireneusz Czop / Marius
Ireneusz is a native of Plock in Poland and first appeared on television in 1994 film Tu Stoje. Working steadily in theatre, he starred in the 2003 feature Pornography and has since been a regular on Polish film and television. Somers Town is his first English film. He is currently playing Macbeth in Warsaw.
Elisa Lasowski / Maria
Born in the Netherlands to French parents, Elisa also has eastern European origins and grew up in several different countries. She is bilingual in English and French and fluent in Dutch, German and Spanish. She trained and began acting in London working on a diversity of dance projects and theatre plays. She made her film debut last year with a small part in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises. Based in London she is pursuing her acting career whilst working on music, dance and photography projects.
Perry Benson / Graham
Perry Benson is a well-established British actor with over 30 years of experience in Film, TV and Theatre. Perry is best-known for his roles in the films Scrum, Sid & Nancy, Final Cut and Love, Honour Obey. Perry has just finished filming the lead role in the film Mum and Dad playing a serial killer, and in the short film Where have I Been All your Life directed by Jim Field Smith playing Imelda Staunton's bit on the side! Perry Benson has worked alongside many high profile actors and directors including Joan Collins and Harold Pinter. Perry Benson trained at Anna Scher & Charles Verral Theatre School in Islington London; his debut was in 1972 playing 'The Boys' in Samuel Becket's Waiting For Godot for The London Bubble Theatre Company.
Kate Dickie / Jane
Kate Dickie's feature film debut was as Jackie in Andrea Arnold's Red Road, shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, where the film was awarded the Jury Prize, and Kate was in contention for the Prix d'Interpretation Feminine. For her performance in this film, she won Best Actress at the British Independent Film Awards, Best Actress at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montréal and Best Actress, BAFTA (Scotland). Her film credits now include the soon to be released features Speed Racer and Summer (co-starring Robert Carlyle), and Somers Town by acclaimed director Shane Meadows.
Kate has had a distinguished British television career, being nominated for "Best Television Performance" BAFTA (Scotland) for Tinsel Town (BBC) and playing lead roles in The Vice (ITV1), Taggart (ITV1) and the forthcoming thriller series He Kills Coppers on Channel 4.
Kate won rave reviews as Cathy in the British premier of the controversial European award-winning play, Aalst, for the National Theatre of Scotland, and after a sell out at the Soho Theatre in London, the production has been revived with Kate in the role she created for it’s premiere in Sydney this month. She was nominated as Best Actress by ‘The Stage’ for her performance in Electra, and she performs often in roles for leading innovative Scottish companies including Suspect Culture, Theatre Cryptic and Raindog. Kate trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD).
ABOUT THE CREW
Shane Meadows / Director
After dropping out of school, Shane Meadows tried a variety of jobs including a clown's assistant before borrowing a camcorder and making a short film every month for a year.
UK film producer, Stephen Woolley, saw Shane’s eclectic mix of films and signed him to write and direct the popular film 24/7. Starring Bob Hoskins in his ill-fated attempt to help a disaffected group of youths, 24/7 picked up many top film festival awards.
Preferring to stay in England, Shane turned down Hollywood offers in order to continue his Midland trilogy with the highly acclaimed cult film, A Room For Romeo Brass. The final film was the comedy Once Upon A Time in The Midlands, selected at the Cannes Film Festival and released in America.
In 2004 Shane teamed up again with Paddy Considine, for Dead Man’s Shoes described as “an outright masterpiece”(The Telegraph) and ‘brilliant’ (Uncut).
2007 saw the release of This Is England, which has been nominated for two BAFTA awards. In Somers Town Shane collaborates once again with the star of This Is England, Thomas Turgoose.
Barnaby Spurrier / Producer
Barnaby is a partner in Tomboy Films. As well as his career as a commercials producer, he has produced a number of award winning short films. He has just completed the production of two documentaries on the early rise of Islam for BBC2 presented by Boris Johnson.
Paul Fraser / Writer
It's been ten years since Paul Fraser teamed up with long-time pal Shane Meadows to make the acclaimed 24:7. Since then he's served as writer on three more of their films and penned Heartlands for Damien O'Donnell. In 2006 he made his directorial debut with short drama Scummy Man.
Natasha Braier / Director of Photography
Since graduating from the NFTS in cinematography, D.O.P. Natasha has steadily and consistently been perfecting her craft working all over the world. She has shot numerous award-winning short films, the most recent of which, Lucia Puenzo’s XXY won the Critics Week Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and also won her the New Talent award at the 2008 Women in Film & TV Awards. Natasha is currently working with director Cosima Spender on the documentary Dolce Vita Africana.
Somers Town: A History
Somers Town is an area of central London between Camden and Kings Cross and St Pancras. Named after the first Baron Somers of Evesham who was Lord Chancellor at the end of the 17th century, the area has always had its own identity, and since the mid 19th century has been defined by the three great mainline railway termini servicing the North and East of England, the Midlands and Scotland: Euston, St. Pancras and Kings Cross.
One of the first housing developments in London was built in Somers Town, named the ‘Polygon’. It was a 15-sided building containing 32 houses. Home at various times of Charles Dickens and William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, it is also the birthplace of Godwin and Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary Shelley. From its earliest days it was a home to refugees and immigrants from other countries, and to this day remains a culturally diverse neighbourhood. A lot of the poorer French émigrés moved there during the French Revolution, which led to the building of a Catholic Chapel and four schools for young and poor children, dedicated to St. Aloysius. Due to the large influx of foreign artisans, it became nearly as great a home of industry as Clerkenwell and Soho. However, the polygon descended into notorious slum housing and was demolished during the 1890s during the construction of the St. Pancras station.
St. Pancras churchyard is equally steeped in history. The famous ‘Hardy Tree’, which Somers Town filmed around, is a large ash tree, which is surrounded by gravestones that were (reputedly) moved by Thomas Hardy in his days as an Architect clerk during the regeneration of Kings Cross in the 1860s. Some of Hardy’s poetry, particularly ‘In The Cemetery’ is thought to be inspired by his time working at this unpleasant job exhuming and moving bodies. The churchyard is also the place where Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was buried, and while visiting her mother’s grave, Percy Shelley declared his love for her daughter Mary Godwin.
Initially the terminus for the London and Birmingham Railway was at Chalk Farm. Up to the year 1845, for fear of frightening the horses in the streets, the locomotive engines came no nearer to London than Chalk Farm, where the engine was detached from the train, and the carriages were attached to an endless rope moved by a stationary engine at the Chalk Farm end of the line and pulled into Euston. Kings Cross was built in 1852, followed by St. Pancras in 1868, so within the space of some 20 years this area underwent the most dramatic social and economic change of any part of London.
Somers Town is once again experiencing huge change and regeneration. St. Pancras has undergone major renovation and expansion to accommodate the new terminus for the Eurostar trains to continental Europe, and some 75 acres around the St Pancras basin is soon to re-developed to include new housing, schools, offices and arts centres.
St. Pancras is often termed the ‘cathedral of the railways’ and includes two of the most celebrated structures built in Britain in the Victorian era. The main train shed was the largest single-span structure built up to that time. The front of the station is formed by St. Pancras Chambers, formerly the Midland Grand Hotel, which is an impressive example of Victorian Gothic architecture.
CAST IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE
Marek Piotr Jagiello
Marius Ireneusz Czop
Tommo Thomas Turgoose
Jane Kate Dickie
Graham Perry Benson
Office Workers Ben Porter
Construction Workers Sebastian Twacz
Local Kids Ryan Ford
Café Owner Huggy Leaver
Angry Resident Trevor Cooper
Maria Elisa Lasowski
French man in café Eddy Hasson
Polish Friends Mariusz Gajewski
Polish Shop Keeper Anna Jenson
Director Shane Meadows
Producer Barnaby Spurrier
Executive Producers Greg Nugent, Nick Mercer, Robert Saville
Original Screenplay Paul Fraser
Based on an Original Idea by Mother Vision
Director Of Photography Natasha Braier
Production Designer Lisa Marie Hall
Editor Richard Graham
Production Manager Erica Bensly
Associate Producer Zoe Bell
Sound Mixer Danny Crowley
Original Music Gavin Clarke
Costume Designer Jo Thompson
Make-Up Designer Sarah Grundy
Paris Unit Director Paul Fraser
Paris Unit Camera Dean Rogers
Casting Directors Sue Pocklington, Louise Knight
Script Supervisor Nicoletta Mani
Script Development Gustavo Sousa, Augusto Sola
Casting Assistant Laura Whiting
Polish Production Liason Jarek Grzymala, Magda Lelas
Polish Casting Director Viola Buhl
On-set Translator Anna Jensen
Production Co-ordinator Oliver Allgrove
Production Accountant Angela Stevens
Production Runners Chlöe Jenden, Lucy Kent
1st Assistant Director Robert Blishen
2nd Assistant Director Cecilia Testa
3rd Assistant Director Matt Randle
Floor Runners Jenny Lee, Martha Spurrier, Maudie Spurrier
Location Manager Sarah Shepherd
Unit Manager Benjamin MacGregor
Locations Scout Rob Ellingham
Location Liaison Rebecca O’Leary, Laure Devos
1st Assistant Camera David Penfold
2nd Assistant Camera Nick Allsop
Key Grip Anthony Ward
2nd Unit Camera Operators Dan Trap, Richard Philpott, Ross McLennan
2nd Unit Camera Assistants Jason Ellis, Steve Burgess, Julia Green
2nd Unit Key Grip Simon Foggy
2nd Unit Loader Martin Roach
Playback Operators Nathan Gallagher, Tim Main
Gaffer Mitch Spooner
Best Boy Drew Slater
Sound Maintenance Laurence O’Keefe, Mike Bleach
Standby Art Director Edd Cross
Set Decorator Emma Davis
Prop Master Tyrone Hyman
Art Department Assistants Antonia Atha, Patrick Herzberg, Louisa De Albuquerque
Wardrobe Supervisors Jenny Svantesson, Emma Rees
Make-Up Assistant Mariella Spoto
Stills Photographers Dean Rogers, Fil Gierlinski
Minibuses Provided by MK Travel
Unit Drivers Shakell Gansinm Peter Newman, Tony Muntzer
Offline Assembly Editors Graham Forde, Helen Walker
Online Post Facility The Mill
Colourist Mick Vincent
Assistant TK Operator Aubrey Woodiwiss
Music Consultant John Boughtwood
Camera & Grip Equipment Panavision
Lighting Equipment First Light Media
Catering Fayre Do’s
Health and Safety Officer Mick Hurrell
Unit Nurse Sheila Harrington
Camera Truck Driver Keith Winyard
Make-Up / Wardrobe Split Driver Alan Lewandowski
Rushes Processing Soho Images
Negative Cutter Danny Coulson
Filmed On Kodak
Insurance Chesterfield Insurance Brokers Matt Lawford
All original music composed and performed by Gavin Clarke
With thanks to:
The Cock Tavern
The Tulip Café
Eurostar UK Ltd
© Tomboy Films Ltd/Eurostar UK Ltd 2008