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Author Topic: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)  (Read 7723 times)

Paul

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Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« on: 09 Jul 2008 - 20:55 »

Saw this at a press screening tonight and was really, really taken by it. It’s a beautifully poignant film, shot with panache and featuring a really a witty script and brilliant performances. Definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year and one I cannot wait to see again. While it’s not as good as 2006’s THIS IS ENGLAND, the film is as good as any of Meadows other films, which makes one wonder he capable of making a bad film?
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Stephen Grimes

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #1 on: 09 Jul 2008 - 21:17 »

I lived in and around the Somers Town estate in Camden/Kings Cross for years,is this where it was filmed Paul?
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Ben Cobb

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #2 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 07:17 »

While it’s not as good as 2006’s THIS IS ENGLAND, the film is as good as any of Meadows other films, which makes one wonder he capable of making a bad film?

Once Upon A Time In The Midlands?
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Paul

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #3 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 08:17 »

I lived in and around the Somers Town estate in Camden/Kings Cross for years,is this where it was filmed Paul?

Yes, mate - the project started out as a short film, financed by EuroStar to plug the new St Pancras station. However, Meadows and his writer collaborator Paul Fraser ended up writing a script for a feature. You should spot most of the locations used, Stephen, as I think the majority of the film was shot in the borough of Camden, mate.

While it’s not as good as 2006’s THIS IS ENGLAND, the film is as good as any of Meadows other films, which makes one wonder he capable of making a bad film?

Once Upon A Time In The Midlands?

It's not a great film, granted, but I think It's still a lot better than most British dramas. There are elements of MIDLANDS that I love and there are those that I dislike, but I do rate it.
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Paul

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #4 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 10:14 »

From the press release:

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”

PRODUCTION STORY

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 Tomo’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.

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.
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"Allow me to explain. Your mother is a whore, your father is a damn thief, and your grandfather is a notorious fag... and as for your sister..." - Yodlaf Peterson

Inspector Tanzi

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #5 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 10:37 »

Paul is to Shane Meadows what cardplayer4 is to Argento movies ;D
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Paul

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #6 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 10:41 »

Paul is to Shane Meadows what cardplayer4 is to Argento movies ;D

...and what you and Brian are to Shaw Brothers flicks  ;D ;D
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"Allow me to explain. Your mother is a whore, your father is a damn thief, and your grandfather is a notorious fag... and as for your sister..." - Yodlaf Peterson

Inspector Tanzi

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #7 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 10:45 »

Paul is to Shane Meadows what cardplayer4 is to Argento movies ;D

...and what you and Brian are to Shaw Brothers flicks  ;D ;D
Ha! Ha! ::) ::)
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Mart85

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #8 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 15:01 »

Hahaha 

First I've heard of this Paul.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm with Paul in that I don't think ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is that bad.  Not a patch on his other films but I enjoyed it.
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Stephen Grimes

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #9 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 15:55 »


You should spot most of the locations used, Stephen, as I think the majority of the film was shot in the borough of Camden, mate.
Great,i'll have to get a copy when it's released.Left Somers Town for France just as the work was starting and everytime i go back it's changed more and more,still very crime ridden (heroin/crack central) and no matter how much money is pumped into the area i honestly can't see that changing.
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Inspector Tanzi

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #10 on: 10 Jul 2008 - 18:50 »

Hahaha 

First I've heard of this Paul.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm with Paul in that I don't think ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS is that bad.  Not a patch on his other films but I enjoyed it.
Your only saying that because it's set in your neck of the woods ;D

only joking, i can't judge it yet because i haven't seen it.
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"When I read the book of Mormon, I feel closer to Jesus Christ."

Mart85

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #11 on: 11 Jul 2008 - 07:40 »

Your only saying that because it's set in your neck of the woods ;D

only joking, i can't judge it yet because i haven't seen it.

 :-\
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Distorty

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #12 on: 30 Jul 2008 - 23:34 »

Brilliant film, really quaint and hilarious at times. The Sydney Film Festival crowd took to it well, especially considering I was at Sunday 10am screening it was still very busy.

Regarding Once Upon A Time In The Midlands, Shane knows as well as the next man that it's not his best work, he struggled with a bigger budget and known actors he admits that himself and has since then rectified the problem by doing lower budget films where he can have full control. Full credit to him for making a mature decision to do that instead of plodding away making inferior films in the bigger budget.
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Phill

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #13 on: 01 Aug 2008 - 21:09 »

Really looking forward to seeing this Paul, what's happening with Le Donk? Don't visit the Shane Meadows forums much these days, got sick of all the " I'm an actor, writer,director" posters scrounging for jobs  :)
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Paul

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Re: Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008)
« Reply #14 on: 08 Aug 2008 - 00:05 »

Really looking forward to seeing this Paul, what's happening with Le Donk? Don't visit the Shane Meadows forums much these days, got sick of all the " I'm an actor, writer,director" posters scrounging for jobs  :)

I can totally see where you're coming from, Phill, though there are still a lot more decent people on there than there are opportunist twats, mate...


LE DONK is being edited as we speak, apparently...
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