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by Phillip Nicholson and Darren Horrocks

Phillip Nicholson won the recent Shane Idol competition which was held on this site.. Part of his prize was for him and a guest to spend a day on the set of Shane's new film, 'This Is England' and produce an exclusive report for the site.. This is their report!

22nd September 2005

Our big day didn't get off to a very auspicious start as we managed to get ourselves well and truly lost thanks mainly to the ever changing one-way system that is the centre of Nottingham.

We did however manage to arrive at the base only half an hour late at 8.00 am, where we were greeted by the sight of lots of Skinheads and Skin girls standing about.

The first ever look at 'the gang'.. From left to right: Andrew Shim, Joe Gilgun, Jack O'Connell, Kieran Hardcastle, and Andrew Ellis.

Louise Meadows then appeared and told us to help ourselves to some breakfast which Darren did, but I couldn't because I was far too nervous and excited!.
We were then whisked into Wardrobe where we were dressed for a scene that Shane had told us that we would be allowed to do.
Darren was dressed in a pair of brand new Doc Martens a very dubious looking top a white coat, gold rimmed glasses and a size too small flat cap. I was dressed in a pair of black skintight jeans, white socks, a pair of period trainers, a particularly dodgy purple and blue top(think eighties dart player and you aren't far off!) complete with fake pocket, a white apron and a caterers white hat. As Louise said Shane likes to go for maximum humiliation.

Phillip, Shane Meadows, and Darren

Next we headed into make up where Darren had no need for any, as the guy said you can't improve on perfection.. I had some stuff put on my hair to flatten it to my forehead. That was it, we were ready.

The scene we got to watch being shot is I think a very important part of the film. It is the first time that Shaun ( Thomas "Thommo" Turgoose ) meets the gang of skinheads, this coming after a day of being bullied at school on the last day of term.

This gives Shaun and us an introduction to the gang.. We get an idea of their characters, their position within the gang, their relationships and how they interact with each other.

For those of you out there who didn't believe it, here is a picture of Thomas Turgoose with Shane. He plays the character of Shaun brilliantly and Shane can't praise him highly enough.

Thomas Turgoose who plays Shaun with Shane

Thommo is 13 but looks a lot younger. He spent half of his time between takes looking as if he was about to fall asleep and the rest of the time running about, joking and basically enjoying himself.
However once action was shouted he was right into it and never missed any of his cues, lines or actions that he had to do. He could be someone to watch out for in the future.

Obviously being shot on location and not on a closed set you have to contend with all the distractions and noises that happen in the real world. Such things as Ambulances ( of which there seemed to be quite a lot that day, ) Aero planes, Car alarms, School children and various members of the public, including one rather inebriated bloke who was wanting autographs but didn't seem to know or care what was being filmed or by whom.

Shane with his director's hat on following proceedings on the monitor

Shane obviously has a very clear vision of how he wants each scene to work and what he wants to say or show with it.

There doesn't seem to be a strict script but rather he has a clear outline with certain lines and actions that are required to lead the scene in the direction he wants and to keep the whole scene moving.

He gives the actors plenty of room to move within the scene and encourages them to improvise. This results in natural and realistic performances. It also means that the scene is never the same twice.
Between takes Shane would go in and discuss it with the actors and either him or the actors would say "I liked that line" or "I liked the way you did that" or how about trying this.
It was thanks to this and his obvious friendship and rapport with the actors that the scene gradually changed expanded and evolved almost taking on a life of its own.
Over the course of 6 hours and 15 or 20 takes, I'm not sure how many as there was so much going on, the scene became longer, funnier, more emotional and more physical which resulted in several bruises and at least 1 cigarette burn.

Shane discussing the scene with Andrew Shim

Shane discussing the scene with Andrew Shim, Jack O'Connell and Kieran Hardcastle

We actually got to sit with Shane and watch several takes on the monitor. We got to see exactly what the cameras were filming. It is only then you get to see his vision of the scene.
You see the close ups, how certain movements can be used to lead the camera all the subtle things that only the camera can pick up.
The best bit was when we got to see Shane switching between cameras on the monitor which gave us an idea of where the cuts would be when it comes to be edited together.
A job I wouldn't like to have to do, there were so many good lines and there was something good in almost every take.
I suppose this is where his experience and the vision come into play.

There was one particular take which was absolutely fantastic and Shane was laughing that much that Griffin the Assistant Director had to remind him to cue one of the actors.

Between takes: Thomas Turgoose in his period costume

Between takes: Hangng about in the underpass

Louise had told us after dinner that the scene we had got all dressed up for wasn't going to be shot that day. I was gutted and if I'm totally honest a little bit relieved. It had been a big day for us anyway and that would have been the icing on the cake.

Then just as we thought they were packing up Shane came across and said that he had come up with a scene for us to be in. This basically involved us opening up the shutters on the front of the chip shop just as young "Shaun" was walking past. We did three takes and that was it we were done.
Shane said that it would match in with a couple of scenes that they had already shot and so it should make it into the film. So fingers crossed and keep your eyes peeled and you may just see us on the big screen. Or a deleted scene on the dvd!

After we had shot our scene it was back to base to get changed into our own clothes and leave. This had been an incredible day and something that we will both remember for a very long time. By this time we were tired and sun burnt and in dire need of some liquid refreshment.

I must of course thank various people so here goes.
1- Dave Clark, of the Shane Meadows website for running the competition.
2- Shane for allowing us onto his set and coming up with a scene for us to be in.
3- Louise Meadows for meeting us at the base and telling us what was going on that day.
4- Peter the 3rd AD for explaining things on location.
5- Dean Rogers, for taking the photos of us with Shane and the cast.
6- Last but by no means least to Milky, Woody, Pukey, Kes, Gadget and Thommo it was a pleasure watching you guys in action.

What more can I say it was a brilliant couple of days and next time Shane it's our turn to buy the drinks!

Thanks very much,
Phill and Darren.

shane meadows top links

Read the second on-set report written by me about two weeks after this first report was written.
After having started this very website just a year before (it looked quite different back then), Shane invited me to visit the set of his new film This Is England.

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