The film is about this tramp, who has come home to die. Everyone in this town walks over people like that every day. Some people stop and kick them in the head. Other people piss on them. A lot of people treat a lot of people like that like dogshit. And this is a chance to say, if you look at every single one of these people, they were all kids at one stage. This is a chance to look at somebody who most people wouldnt give the time of day to and find out that this man actually helped and gave himself to his community. I wanted to pay respect to him. And Im proud that people are distributing this film about this tramp, and that people want to see it. Because its not an easy film to watch.
Not for nothing has Shane Meadows been compared to father of British social conscience cinema Ken Loach. He continues: One film cant change your life, but collectively films can affect it. What Ken Loachs films did was prove to me and give me confidence when I was about to make my own films that you could make films that people want to see about people around you. When you see something like Kes, that was memorable for many many people, that stayed with them, that means something to them, because it captured a period you get in your life, it captured a pain you get when youre a kid, the fact that somebody made a story that perfectly, it gave me the confidence to make films about the people Ive grown up with. When you see people do it, being funded to do it, it gives you confidence...
Meadows is already following Loachs example, setting an example for others to follow. His shorts won much acclaim, as has his first feature, the boxing film TwentyFourSeven. But the aid he is offering is both physical and fiscal aid: Ive got a DV cam that I use now for the short films, which I lend out to the members of the communuty. And Ive got a first look deal with a company, where they can look at my first two films, and if they want to have them then they can, but in exchange for that I made sure that, I think its £15000 in the first year and then £40000 in the second, is given to help people in the area. His films may be set in his very specific Nottinghamshire community, but the combination of such charity with his obvious talent is ensuring that his name is quickly becoming known around the world. TwentyFourSeven is being shown in America and Australia. A couple of weeks ago, whilst holidaying in an anonymous little village in the centre of France, I was pounced upon by a beneficiary of Meadows generosity. A beneficiary who had gone on to win last years Levis short film competition.
So TwentyFourSeven is rather more serious than your average Britpic, tackling teenage unemployment and disillusionment when it is not tackling vagrancy, tickling drug addiction and the difficulty of being homosexual within a fiercely heterosexual culture when it is not tackling these. But Shane Meadows has also been compared to Mike Leigh. Like Leigh, Meadows always takes care to tickle the ribs of those who he is forcing to tackle tough subjects: I think that the nature of my background, where I grew up, was that when things got very hard, the humour became very hard and cutting. The humour may be hard and cutting, but the humour is what gets the audience through TwentyFourSeven. The film reminds me a little of The Full Monty: social commentary to a disco beat. Only this time its to a britpop beat. With added laughs.
TwentyFourSeven opens on 27th March.
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