THE PEBBLE AND THE BOY
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS GREEN
The Pebble and the Boy, the new British Mod road movie, the brainchild of its writer and director Chris Green is on the road to make a huge impact on our big screens next year, but Chris could do with help. After the successful teaser trailer Chris is hoping to start shooting the main picture imminently and with a stellar cast, the backing of lots of influential people including Paul Weller and scooter manufacturer Scomadi and others his vision is not far off becoming a reality. However, films cost money and whilst Chris has managed to raise most of the cash he still needs a little to get over the line. This is where we offered to step in and support his crowdfunding for the film. Cris Davies caught up with Chris to talk about the Movie, his own love of the scene, the characters involved and how our readers can get behind this great project....
Chris Green, scriptwriter and director of The Pebble & the Boy, can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, your love of the Modernist scene, when you became part of it, your early influences and are you part of it today?
I’m from Salford originally and it was hanging around with the older lads from school and listening to The Jam that led me to become a Mod when I was about 14. We used to hang around outside the chip shop on our estate and an older guy who lived nearby had a Lambretta that he used to ask us to keep an eye on it when he went in his house. He dressed really sharp and we all wanted to emulate him. Nowadays I’m not a parka wearing Mod, more a Mod with a contemporary twist as I like to think of myself. I’ve never been into 2 tone suits, more a suede boots and polo tops kind of Mod.
Can you tell us a little about your creative side, where it all started, how it developed and any projects you have worked on in the past?
I started writing in secondary school and always had a bit of a flair for telling stories. I’ve still an old A4 pad that I used to write gang stories in, about a gang of youths that got into all sorts of scrapes. I bought a typewriter out of my Mum’s catalogue when I was about 17 and was intent on writing a book, but despite numerous efforts, I never finished it. I never thought writing was a career option until I came runner-up in the CH4/Red Productions Northern Soul new writer’s competition that a mate of mine told me about. I got an agent as a result of that, and although I stayed working in a call centre I did start to get some TV work, albeit not a lot. Then I tried my hand at film scripts, which seemed to flow better for me as opposed to TV scripts. I wrote and produced my first film on a micro-budget of about £45,000 and it came out on DVD back in 2011 and had Ricci Harnett who played the infamous Carlton Leach in Rise of the Footsoldier as one of the leads.
I then wrote Best Laid Plans, a modern day re-imagining of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. I managed to get Maxine Peake and Stephen Graham on board as well as some other famous names and that was released back in 2012. After that came The Caravan and last year I wrote a couple of episodes of Hollyoaks which was interesting.
You have a new release coming out, tell us a bit about your new movie 'Strangeways, here we come' that's about to hit our screens.
Strangeways is a film that I developed with my mate and fellow Salfordian, actor Stephen Lord. It’s a raw comedy set on a council estate about a cruel loan shark who is terrorising everyone and how they get their revenge on him. This was the first film that I both wrote and directed and it comes out on October 5th. It features Perry Fitzpatrick and Chanel Creswell from This is England, Stephen Lord, Nina Wadia, Elaine Cassidy, Mark Sheals [who is going to be in The Pebble & the Boy] and Michelle Keegan in her first film role.
The Pebble & the Boy, where did the concept come from, the storyline, where you are in the process of making the film and tell us about the great cast that will be starring.
There’s that old adage ‘write what you know’ within the film and TV game, but it had never really hit home until I happened to bump into Paul Weller the morning after a gig in Cork back in 2009. I got a photo with him and afterwards, on the plane home the idea for The Pebble & the Boy began to form. The track of the same name is on Paul’s ‘As is now’ album and it put me in mind of a relationship between a man and his father.
Was the casting easy?
I’ve always been really lucky in that actors seem to like the characters and stories I create. But I’m still always stunned when someone agrees to play a part in one for my films. I’m also lucky in that Manchester is an absolute hotbed of fantastic acting talent. And what I’ve learnt over the years is don’t be afraid to ask them to work with you. The worst they can say is ‘No’. So I send actors my work, usually via their agent but sometimes a mutual friend, and occasionally I’ll just contact someone on Twitter and just ask if they’ll consider reading my script. Nico Mirallegro and Sally Carman are local and they both very kindly agreed to help me out by appearing in the teaser, as did Mark Sheals and Olivia Fearn. I’m not sure that we will get them all back for the feature film due to busy schedules, but we’re trying. And we’ve also got a few new people on board that our audience will instantly recognise, some nice little surprise cameos as well.
We've seen the trailer, it looks ace!, how did you manage to arrange for so many Mods/scooterists to be involved, it must be great fun filming a taster for the actual film?
It was a bit nerve-wracking to be honest, as I didn’t think anyone would turn up! But that’s one thing you can say about Scooter Clubs and Mod’s, they turn out to support others.
I posted on a few Facebook groups and the response was good. But on the day, well…I never expected over a hundred to turn up. They really make a difference and we’re hoping to do it all again for the feature film.
Can you tell us about Mr Weller's involvement in the film and will he be supplying music for the soundtrack?
Paul has been really supportive and gave a big thumbs up to the 20-minute promo of TP&TB that I sent him. I can’t really say too much about the music other than we’re talking to the right people and it’s going well. You can hear Paul on the track that we’ve used for the Crowdfunder appeal video where he accompanies the fantastic Aziz Ibrahim on vocals. Aziz has co-written and performed with Ian Brown and Paul Weller and has been a great supporter of the film. Have a listen to the track on the Crowdfunder link, it’s called ‘Middle Road’ and suits the theme of our film to a tee.
As the writer and director and a lover of the Mod scene is it difficult capturing the essence of the scene on film?
Yep! I guess I’m a ‘second generation Mod’ so the film reflects what I know and experienced, which is very different from what went on in the 60’s. And as the film is set in the modern day it is a bit tricky to capture the excitement of the Mod movement as a subculture. But I think we’ve managed to blend the old and the new…hopefully!
I bet choosing costume, music, scooters and locations was a real blast?
Costume was great, and we were supported by the lovely people at Adaptor Clothing for the teaser which made things a lot easier as those guys really know what they’re talking about. Locations were fun, and it was great to return to Brighton seven years after I originally went down there to research the script. We got a lot of love from Jump the Gun who very kindly allowed us to film in their shop. The scooter was kindly loaned to us by a Manchester Mod called Ken Gillibrand, and we managed to return it to him in one piece…which was a bonus!
We know you managed to raise enough money for the trailer and the film is going to be expensive, can you give our readers an insight into a films cost, your crowdfunding project and where people’s pledges will be spent.
We ran a crowdfunding for the original teaser and the response was great, which was very much appreciated. Obviously, the feature film is going to be considerably more, running into the hundreds of thousands and so we’re doing everything we can to raise the money prior to going into production next month. We have support from Scomadi Scooters and we’re also looking for more sponsors to help as well as speaking to potential investors. And we’ve launched another crowdfunding in the hope that we can raise the £50,000 that will see us over the line and into production. We’re offering some great perks in return for contributions including walk on/ride on parts, T-shirts, Posters and VIP tickets to one of our preview screenings that will take place in Brighton and Manchester. Every penny raised will go into the production. So, if anyone out there knows a rich Weller fan, Mod or Scooter lover that would like to appear in our film, be an executive producer or have an exclusive private screening, then please send them my way……
Lastly, can you give us an idea when the filming will begin and when you are hoping to premiere?
The film will go into production next month with the intention of premiering in July or August next year just in time for the big Mod events up and down the country.