Using film to fight youth knife crime

This was a huge project for us, a commision from the Violence Reduction Unit and grassroots arts charity CFY and co-produced with Modular Films under director Luke Radford.

Going for an entirely improvised approach, and working with first-time talent this ambitious film portrayed two timelines, one of the Kayla, the film’s lead, and one of a victim’s family.

The key for the success, as the film has very limited amounts of dialogue was the expressiveness of the lead actor, Charna Samuels who plays Kayla in the film. Her performance carries the whole picture, and witnessing her stoic demeanour break into the ebb and flow of emotion is mesmerising viewing.

The two timelines needed to be handled adroitly with the audience kept in suspense as to which moment they would cross or merge, but at the same time not leaving people confused and put off by where the story was taking them.

The director chose to street cast (casting talent through non-professional avenues, like open auditions or members of the community) through Stone Soup, a local alternative provision school. As members of the school had been excluded from mainstream schools some of them have connections with street crime so they intuitively understood the world of the film. This was important as we wanted to capture that rawness of people just being themselves, not even acting per se because they had never been taught how to act in the first place.

To supplement the fresh non-pro talent we had a glut of more veteran actors including Jason Williamson from Sleaford Mods, Jonny Phillips who had a role in Titanic and Rupert Procter from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

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Using film to fight youth knife crime

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