'Untitled Girls Film' directed by Sarah Gavron starts shooting
Film4, BFI and Wellcome back film from acclaimed Suffragette filmmaker team
Altitude boards for international sales and acquires for UK and Ireland distribution
Principal photography has started on Fable Pictures’ new film from BAFTA award-winning director Sarah Gavron (Suffragette, Brick Lane) and written by Theresa Ikoko (Snatches: Moments from Women's Lives) and Claire Wilson (The Little Drummer Girl).
Untitled Girls Film (working title) is produced by Faye Ward (Suffragette, Stan and Ollie, Wild Rose) through Fable Pictures and Ameenah Ayub Allen (The Selfish Giant, Brick Lane) who have a longstanding relationship with Gavron. The film has been backed in development and is being funded in production by Film4 and the BFI (awarding funds from the National Lottery) with additional support from Wellcome. Executive producer Altitude is handling international sales and will be releasing the film in the UK and Ireland.
The story and characters have been developed in a unique work-shopping process with non-actors and will show the spirit, joy and resilience of young women rarely represented in British cinema. The film will capture a group of multi-cultural schoolgirls in the fast-paced and ever-changing world that is the back drop to their lives. It is a big-hearted story about friendship and being a teenage girl in contemporary London. The narrative follows a 15 year-old schoolgirl Olushola Joy Omotoso, a British Nigerian girl known as ’Rox‘ to her friends. Rox’s mother leaves her and her young brother, Emmanuel, to fend for themselves. Determined to avoid being taken into care and to stick with her little brother against all odds, Rox abandons her home and hides around their London neighbourhood with the help of her loyal friends. Whilst documenting some of the harsher aspects of the lives of these young people, it also shows their resilience and determination - and the transformative power of female teenage friendships.
Director Sarah Gavron says “I set out wanting to convey what it’s like to be a teenage girl in the rapidly changing world of today. The writers, Theresa and Claire worked with the girls and have created a compelling narrative that captures the visceral experience of growing up in contemporary London. The filmmaking team and I have put in place a framework that aims to allow for the film to have a spontaneous, naturalistic feel, and to bottle the exuberance and resilience of our eclectic cast of girls.
As a team we wanted to make a film that conveys the intrinsic experience of being a teenage girl in the rapidly changing and uncertain world of today and to explore the emotional power of female friendship. In preparing the film we have worked closely with our cast of girls over an extended period of time. The film making process itself will be structured in a way that we hope will allow us to capture their natural rhythms and spirit”
Producer Faye Ward says: “We wanted to make a film about contemporary London girls and so the ethos of celebrating diversity and creating opportunity was firmly rooted in the first seeds of the project - as it should be on every film. It is so exciting to see this story about the extraordinary spirit, humour and resilience of ordinary girls come to fruition and we hope that the finished film will illuminate the bold work of our talented cast and crew, who largely reflect the multicultural city in which the story is set”
The filmmakers have assembled a cast and crew that reflects their personal and professional commitment in filmmaking to diversity and inclusion. From the beginning, producer Ameenah Ayub Allen set out numerous opportunities for new entrants on the ground (several recruited from You Make It, a charity which empowers low income, minority and underrepresented young women in London) and for junior-mid level crew who are progressing to their first jobs in more senior roles through a new initiative from the BFI Film Fund with support from seasoned senior crew and HoDs, Majority departments have significant BAME representation and overall the crew is 75% female, reflecting the protagonists of the story being told on screen.
Writer Theresa Ikoko says, “There are few things as powerful as female friendship. Key to this project has been a special group of young women, many of whom are growing up down the road from where I did in Hackney.” Co-writer Claire Wilson agrees that the girls have, “breathed life into the creation and realisation of this story”. Ikoko continues, “I hope these girls give the gift of joy and love to the many young women who will soon see them - and through them, *themselves* - on screen.”
Award-winning playwright Theresa Ikoko (Visiting Hours, Girls) makes her feature debut with the Untitled Film, working with co-writer Claire Wilson (Partners in Crime). Gavron, wanted a female DoP to capture the female teenage aesthetic, as well as a female 2nd Unit DoP, whose teams have evolved to be entirely women. The production team includes casting director Lucy Pardee (The Devil Outside, American Honey, Fish Tank), director of photography Hélène Louvart (Lazzaro Felice, Pina, Beach Rats), production designer Alice Normington (My Cousin Rachel, Their Finest, Suffragette), costume designer Ruka Johnson (Obey, Trendy) Editor Maya Maffioli (Beast, Kingdom of Us) and hair and make-up designer Nora Robertson (Stan & Ollie, Johnny English Strikes Again).
The film is shooting on location in and around East London
Film4 and BFI present in association with Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, Kreo Films, Altitude Film Sales and Wellcome, a Fable Pictures Production.
Fable Pictures was set up by producer Faye Ward in 2016 with backing from Sony Pictures Television. Last year the company shot two films: STAN AND OLLIE starring Academy Award®- nominee Steve Coogan and Academy Award®-winner John C. Reilly as Laurel and Hardy, written by Academy Award®- nominee Jeff Pope and directed by Jon S. Baird; and WILD ROSE starring Jessie Buckley, Academy Award®- nominees Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo, written by BAFTA wining writer Nicole Taylor and directed by BAFTA nominee Tom Harper. STAN AND OLLIE has just announced to be the closing the London Film Festival for 2018.
The company’s current slate includes a four-part mini- series called SAINT MAZIE starring Academy Award®- nominee AND BAFTA winner Helena Bonham Carter, based on a book by Jami Attenberg and adapted by Clara Brennan; an adaptation of Bernardine Evaristo’s novel MR LOVERMAN adapted by Rachel De-Lahay, which is in development with Channel 4; comedy series FRANKIE MACKIE written and created by George Kay for Channel 4; plus projects with a roster of emerging and established British talent including Moira Buffini, Smita Bhide, Nathaniel Price and Yann Demange.
Faye was previously part of the producing team for the multi-award winning Netflix series THE CROWN. Other credits include: SUFFRAGETTE directed by Sarah Gavron and the Golden Globe nominated series DANCING ON THE EDGE by Stephen Poliakoff; Co-producer on JANE EYRE directed by Cary Fukunaga, Associate Producer on FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and TAMARA DREWE
Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division. Film4 develops and co-finances films and is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking, both new and established.
Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years, Academy Award®-winners such as Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Asif Kapadia’s box office record breaking documentary Amy, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Chris Morris’s Four Lions, Shane Meadows’ This is England, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years and David Mackenzie’s Starred Up.
Film4’s recent releases include Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete, Clio Barnard’s Dark River, Michael Pearce’s Beast, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch, and Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting. Forthcoming releases include Bart Layton’s American Animals, Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long, Iain Morris’s The Festival, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, Steve McQueen’s Widows, Stephen Merchant’s Fighting With My Family, Tom Harper’s Wild Rose and Jim Hosking’s An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. Films in production or pre-production include Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, Asif Kapadia’s Maradona, Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses, Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s How To Build a Girl, and Chaplin from Peter Middleton and James Spinney.
The BFI Film Fund supports world-class UK filmmaking from talent and film development, through to production and audience development across exhibition, distribution and international sales. With over £50 million of National Lottery funding to invest each year, the BFI is the UK's largest public investor in film.
Highly anticipated films backed by the BFI include Cold War which received its World Premiere In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival winning the Best Director prize for filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski; Chris Martin’s Under the Wire which receives its World Premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest; Wash Westmoreland’s Colette, Idris Elba’s Yardie which premiered at Sundance; Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir; Jim Hosking’s An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn which premiered at Sundance; Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul which will open this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest; Jason Barker’s A Deal with the Universe which premiered at the BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Festival; Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long; Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; Neil Biswas’s Darkness Visible; Gabrielle Brady’s Island of the Hungry Ghosts; Deborah Haywood’s Pin Cushion which opened the Critics’ Week at Venice; Saul Dibb’s Journey’s End; Steve McLean’s Postcards from London and Matthew Jones’ The Man from Mo’ Wax.
Films in prep, production and post include Sacha Polak’s Dirty God; Tom Harper’s Wild Rose; Annabel Jankel’s Tell it to the Bees; Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chaplin; the Chris Morris Untitled Project; Claire Denis’s High Life; Mike Leigh’s Peterloo; Chino Moya’s Undergods; Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s Normal People; Scott Graham’s Born to Run; Amma Asante’s Where Hands Touch; Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul; Carol Morley’s Out of Blue; Craig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty; Tim Travers Hawkins’s XY Chelsea; William McGregor’s Gwen; Thomas Clay’s Fanny Lye Deliver’d; Peter Strickland’s In Fabric; Brian Welsh’s Beats; Ian Cunningham’s Irene’s Ghost; and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.
Recent releases include Daniel Kokotajlo’s Apostasy; Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete (World Premiere, Venice Film Festival); Michael Pearce’s Beast; Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country (World Cinema Dramatic - Directing Award, Sundance 2017/Michael Powell Award, Edinburgh International Film Festival); Aardman Animations’ Early Man, directed by Nick Park; Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here (Best Screenplay and Best Actor, Cannes Film Festival 2017); Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not A Witch (BAFTA award /World Premiere, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight 2017); Clio Barnard’s Dark River; Paddy Considine’s Journeyman; Lucy Cohen’s Kingdom of Us (Grierson Best Documentary Award); Sky Neal and Kate McLarnon’s Even When I Fall; Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake (Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival, 2016/BAFTA award); Andrea Arnold’s American Honey (Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 2016); Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 2015); Andy Serkis’s Breathe; Peter Mackie Burns’s Daphne (Best Performance - British Feature Film, Edinburgh International Film Festival); and Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami.
Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.
ALTITUDE FILM ENTERTAINMENT
The Altitude Film Entertainment group comprises Altitude Film Production led by Will Clarke chairman and joint-CEO with Andy Mayson; Altitude Film Sales with Managing Director Mike Runagall; and Altitude Film Distribution with Head of Distribution Hamish Moseley.
The Altitude sales slate includes Whitney from Academy Award®-winning director Kevin Macdonald and Academy Award®-winning producer Simon Chinn and Emmy® award-winning producer Jonathan Chinn, which premiered in the Cannes official Midnight selection; Tina Turner directed by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, the filmmakers behind the Emmy® Award-winning LA 92 and Academy® award-winning Undefeated, also produced by Simon Chinn (Man on Wire, Searching for Sugar Man, Whitney) and Jonathan Chinn (LA 92, Fantastic Lies, Whitney); Hallelujah! directed by Chris Addison and starring Ralph Fiennes; Calm with Horses directed by Nick Rowland and starring Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan and Niamh Algar; Chaplin from BAFTA-nominated filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney; Liam Gallagher: As It Was directed by Charlie Lightening; Guns Akimbo written and directed by Jason Lei Howden and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving; Billie directed award-winning filmmaker James Erskine and produced by Victoria Gregory and Barry Clark-Ewers; Black 47, directed by Lance Daly and starring Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene, which received its World Premiere Out of Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival 2018; Beats, directed by Brian Welsh and executive produced by Academy Award®-winning director Steven Soderbergh; Maradona from Asif Kapadia and the Academy Award®-winning team behind Amy and Senna; Ghost Stories, directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman based on their international smash hit starring Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther and Paul Whitehouse, and Black Water: Abyss directed by Andrew Traucki.
Altitude Film Distribution has expanded its slate extensively over the five years since its launch. In 2017 Altitude released the Academy Award® Best Picture winning feature Moonlight, the Academy Award® documentary nominated and BAFTA-winning I Am Not Your Negro, and was responsible for the release of Academy Award® and BAFTA-winning Amy in 2015 and 20 Feet From Stardom. Other releases include Studio Ponoc’s Mary and The Witch’s Flower; Marc Meyers’ My Friend Dahmer; BAFTA nominated Lady Macbeth by William Oldroyd; The Florida Project from Sean Baker; Beast written and directed by Michael Pearce; Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela’s Loving Vincent; Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie; Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow; Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room; Lili Fini Zanuck’s documentary Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars; Andrey Zvyagintsev's award-winning Loveless, Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney; Spitfire, directed by David Fairhead; and Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn.
Forthcoming releases include Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazz’s Sicilian Ghost Story; Chloé Zhao’s The Rider; Liam Gallagher: As It Was directed by Charlie Lightening; Ed Lilly’s VS; Brian Welsh’s Beats; TJ Martin’s Tina Turner; Hallelujah! directed by Chris Addison and starring Ralph Fiennes; Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chaplin; Nick Rowland’s Calm with Horses; and Asif Kapadia’s Maradona.