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I liked all the films especially the one for Superman [“This is Joe”] and the last one which was longer [“ Frontman ”]. I look forward to at...

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Interview: Alexander Thomas, writer/director of "Beverley"

On 5th March, 2016 (the weekend before International Women's Day) at Pawa 254, Mageuzi Theatre, ROFFEKE will host "Chicks as Crew and Cast", a celebration of short films and music videos by female directors and/or with female protagonists. The main feature will be Alexander Thomas' "Beverley".

ROFFEKE: What inspired you to write “Beverley?”

ALEX: The most honest answer would be my producer, Cass Pennant. The idea of making a film with the 2-Tone subculture as the backdrop to the film was his idea. I was only just born when it was going on, so whilst I knew the music and the bands as it has had such an impact, I didn't know too much about the social and cultural importance of the movement. It was only when I came to research it thoroughly that I realised what an exciting project this could be.

Also having Beverley Thompson involved in the project was hugely helpful. She lived through the period and was a Rude Girl back then searching for her identity as a mixed race teenager. Her life stories and experience were a key inspiration for the film. Finally, there were so many things that period had in common with now: we were dealing with economically tough times; a neo-liberal, highly ideological right wing government; divisive cultural and media messages which were leading to problems around race and multiculturalism; high youth unemployment rates - a genuinely disaffected youth which led to social disturbances such as riots. All of this is incredibly familiar today. We haven't moved on and the questions of British identity which the film poses are just as relevant today.

ROFFEKE: What are the challenges of directing your own screenplay?

ALEXANDER: I think there are more benefits than challenges. You understand what you are trying to achieve from the start. The important thing is to make sure everyone in your team understands your vision and that you thereby enable them to maximise their own skills and creativity to enrich the project further. I think that's probably the main challenge whether it's your own screenplay or not - with filmmaking the key is always to be collaborative - to realise you have a whole team of incredibly talented people and you need to bring out all of that potential creativity to make the film a success, not just try to keep it all to yourself.

ROFFEKE: Highest point and lowest point during the shooting of “Beverley”

ALEXANDER: The highest point was probably the gig scene. We weren't sure how many extras were going to turn up, but we ended up with a really good crowd and there was an incredible atmosphere to shoot in. As well as that, just day one - being on set with the incredible cast I had really felt like a privilege. Low points, there were a few. With a low budget, highly ambitious film, we had to take risks. Sometimes we ran into problems, but luckily everybody pulled together and we always got through one way or another. When it all works out in the end, you kind of forget the problems you faced - so I won't dwell on them now!

ALEXANDER: Advice for writers wanting to get into directing?

Just to go out and start making films. Anything really: docs, fiction, music videos, whatever. There's no lesson like trying something out yourself - you viscerally feel the successes and failures and those experiences are then burnt into you in a way just watching films will never quite equal. You can shoot things on your phone nowadays, so there's no excuse for not having access to what you need. Just come up with an idea that makes use of the tools, places and people you have access to and do it. I started with documentary for that reason. There's endless infinite real life stories out there and fascinating people you cross paths with every day.

ROFFEKE: Film by a female director that you would highly recommend?

ALEXANDER: Frida by Julie Taymor. A brilliant film about a brilliant woman.

Come watch "Beverley" and other short films on 5th March, 2016 at Pawa 254, Mageuzi Theatre. More details here.