Screen international introduces us to their stars of tomorrow

Screen International has released its annual Stars of Tomorrow list.

Featuring up and coming/established yet only just getting their recognition creatives who work in Screen, in front of and behind the camera. Of the 20 here are the names we’re most excited aboutTBB crew:

  • Producers – Rienkje Attoh (Noughts + Crosses) | Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (Blue Story)
  • Writer / Director – Akinola Davies Jr (Welcome To Nollywood)
  • Writers – Matilda Ibini (The Unexpected Expert, Caring) | Courttia Newland (Small Axe)
  • Heads of department: Aisha Bywaters (casting director)
  • Actors: Sheyi Cole (Small Axe) | Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) | Yasmin Monet Prince (Nocturnal, Hanna) | Amarah-Jae St Aubyn (Small Axe) | Micheal Ward (Top Boy, Blue Story)

This Monday 5th October Screen International will be hosting a free live event introducing us to the full list of stars. Find out how to register below. Two of the stars of tomorrow were chosen to speak to their established industry peers about the craft (edited for brevity).

Blue Story producer Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor talks with Mark Herbert, joint CEO of Warp Films and the Bafta-winning producer of This Is England, Dead Man’s Shoes, and the upcoming Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor: Recently I’ve been saying, “I am not a producer, I’m an enabler.” I enable the director to create their vision. But in being an enabler, I find that I’ve got to think about business and not just about my taste. So how do you remain sustainable, especially being an indie?

MH I think it’s essential to have a diverse slate. As an indie these days, that needs to be TV and film. It’s also really important, even if you’re a small company, to reach an audience internationally and domestically. Being profitable is not a bad word. Also, be fairly nimble. If you meet someone and pitch three comedies but he wants horror, have something in your back pocket ready to go. It’s about being nimble, with a few things in the pipeline. As well as that, keep your costs and overheads low. When we first set up, I converted the shed in my garden. That’s where This Is England was built — in a shed in Sheffield.

JG-A: I’m stealing that! Now, you’ve made some iconic British films. With my slate, I’m looking to take “Britishness” and expand it into black, queer and female stories. How do you approach what Britishness is when making films?

MH Britishness means something different to me than it does to all the directors I’ve worked with, from Shane Meadows and Chris Morris to Richard Ayoade and Yann Demange. They’ve all got a different view of what Britishness means to them. That’s what we need to push and celebrate. It’s the most diverse country; a wonderful mix of everything. So, for me, it’s just making sure that wherever the perspective is coming from, it has to feel honest. Our films have huge heart, a lot of wit and honesty. If that honesty is gritty and horrific or crazy and stupid, in terms of what is British, I think it’s a massive eclectic mix.

JG-A People can overcomplicate things. I made a film years ago called White Colour Black. We had no money but found £35,000 and shot the film. There’s always a way. So it’s fascinating that we could make a film with that budget but even when you have over £1m, you still don’t have enough money.

MH You never have enough money. We made something for just under £20m and still needed more time and money. For certain films, where you have hundreds of extras in fancy costumes, you definitely need that. But take Dead Man’s Shoes. I said to Shane [Meadows], what kind of crew do we need? He was frustrated having previously made an oil tanker of a film, which took forever to turn, but we were in a speedboat. How many people can you fit in a minibus? We’ll get a 16-seater. That’s the size of our crew. Those are the rules. We have handheld or tripod, nothing else. We have practical light, nothing else. One person in wardrobe, so everyone wears the same clothes. One make-up. You set out your agreement and don’t veer off it.

Read the full interview at Screen International here

Casting director Aisha Bywaters (The Last Tree, Dirty God) speaks with Armando Iannucci, the Bafta award-winning writer/director of The Personal History Of David Copperfield and Veep.

Aisha Bywaters: With the colour-blind casting of The Personal History Of David Copperfield, how did you decide to cast in that way?

Armando Iannucci It was instinctive because I could only think of Dev Patel to play David in my head — in his appearance, manner and personality. He is in every scene and has to play comic, tragic, romantic, slapstick, visual, and I could only think of Dev. Then I thought that’s how we should cast every part. If, as an industry, we’re going to make more costume and period dramas, it’s vitally important that amazing actors aren’t excluded from central parts. It’s something I’ve seen in theatre for the last 20 years at least. Film, for some reason, is so literal and traditional.

AB Was there any resistance to the casting?

AI Not in the slightest. FilmNation were the backers and Film4. After The Death Of Stalin, they approached me and said they’d love to support my next film. When I said I wanted it to be David Copperfield, their first reaction was, “Why?”, in the sense that it sounded conventional. When I explained how I wanted to do it, in terms of how it looked and felt, they were on board because the last thing we want to do is just another traditional period drama. Hopefully, especially in the world of period drama and costume drama, it alerts other producers and directors.

I benefited from working for five years out in Baltimore on Veep. Baltimore is a majority African American population so when I came back to the UK, I realised that what I’m seeing on the studio floor and on screen is not representative of when I go out.

AB Has there ever been any time when executives have put pressure on you to cast stars?

AI Making films, you are very much aware you’re spending other people’s money but I’ve tried to avoid doing the big-budget studio films where you’ve got 150 people overseeing you and executives. So my films have tended to be quite low-budget, independently financed. But I’m aware we’ve got to get people to come and see it. In The Death Of Stalin, I wanted Simon Russell Beale to play Beria even though he’s not that well-known as a film actor, he’s a stage actor. But I knew that if we got the likes of Steve Buscemi and Michael Palin, we’d have a balance. So I’m half-aware and try to reassure financiers that I will come up with a cast in the end who people can be excited about but, in return, I want to take one or two risks with how I cast certain roles, where it’s an unknown or a first-time actor.

Read the full interview at Screen International here

Screen International is hosting a live online event on Monday, October 5 at 5pm BST, where you can hear directly from the Stars. Register here to join.


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