Thursday, 2 June 2011

Twenty8k - a bold future for British filmmaking

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending in Newham the set of a new and exciting British production, Twenty8k. Co-directed by David Kew and Neil Thompson, produced by Martin Carr and starring Parminder Nagra, Stephen Dillane, Jonas Armstrong and Kierson Wareing; in a script written by Jimmy Dowdall and Paul Abbott. It tells the story of a young woman, Deeva, a fashion executive in Paris who returns home to East London to defend the name of her brother who has been arrested for murder, but as she seeks to uncover the truth, lies and conspiracy come to the fore with twists aplenty.

Firstly, upon my arrival on set I was allowed an in-depth sit down with Martin Carr, a passionate man who described the film as a 'woman in peril thriller', a rare beast for these times and one for which they always had the acclaimed Nagra in mind for. As we arrive on set, they are in the last week or so of major shooting, due to Parminder's busy schedule in line with her work on J.J.Abram's new TV pilot Alcatraz; this has been a busy five weeks and hectic for the still young actress - who is back in England for the first time in years.

Nagra, is the cornerstone of the film, and in some exclusive reel footage we were shown; we see a scene of her crying in her brother's bedroom as she sees the only contact with which she had with him; a postcard from her home in Paris where she was working as a fashion executive, she breaks down in tears as this postcard is the only link she had with her brother, the tears expressing guilt and regret over the greater distance she had withdrawn from family life.

Mr.Carr went on about the gruelling schedule of shooting, days shoots running from 7am to 5pm, and then sometimes a night shoots going from 5pm to 7am, sometimes straight after, which has been hard on the 40 strong crew, but the professionalism on display has been all apparent.

As the money man, he was not shy to state how the budget at £1.4m is very good for a British film of this stature - but with its presence as the marquee British release of the early spring after the Oscar rush of films, the film could be the first thing of London in 2012 before 'the big sporting event' appears on the horizon in late July. Yet Mr.Carr made the point, 'that filmgoers pay £8 or whatever it is, for a big Hollywood blockbuster and the same for a small British film, so why can we not offer the British film fan the same sort of sheen and look as a Hollywood film.'

Asking about the script, a first draft was written in 2008 but following a creative difference with the original author, mostly about the omnipresent c-word in British pictures; Carr approached Paul Abbott (Shameless, State of Play) who said no but came back and did a draft and the beauty of Abbott's work, 'is that in two lines he gets the audience to ask 30 questions'.

Carr hopes that along with such films like Enemy of the State and the Bourne franchise, 'there will be a sense of immediacy with the work and that the preparation will pay off. And that there will be an international reach for this film even though it has a low budget, but this has class and we are using London as an asset and character in proceedings. And in Deeva (Nagra), we have a character who is a strong yet vulnerable girl, using her skill set and intelligence - allowing us a greater demographic due to her everyman quality.'

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