WHEN Shifty, Eran Creevy’s debut film, was shown on BBC Two last month the director’s Twitter account was flooded with messages of praise.
There were a lot of films around at the time in that Kidulthood style of filmmaking. I remember thinking how unrealistic they were
Creevy said: “I got hundreds of Twitter followers that night. I got tweets like ‘Shifty is the defining movie of our generation’ and ‘it captured our lives perfectly.’ It was insane.”
The BBC transmission isn’t the only reason Creevy’s looking back on the film he made four years ago.
Shifty has only now come out in America and Creevy will also be hosting an exclusive screening of the film followed by a Q&A at the Odeon Printworks on Saturday 6 October as part of Greater Manchester Film Festival.
“It’s weird to revisit it now because for me it represents a very specific time and place in my life. Watching it again on BBC Two I just thought how raw it looked, nothing like my new film, and how proud I am that I made it,” Creevy said.
Over the course of the day we see through the eyes of Mays’ character the violent world Shifty now inhabits and just how different their lives have become.
By highlighting the wasted potential of Shifty the film shone a light on an entire generation who grew up in similar circumstances.
Shot in seventeen days, on a budget of just £100,000 Shifty was based on Creevy’s own experiences growing up in Harlow, Essex.
“There were a lot of films around at the time in that Kidulthood style of filmmaking. I remember thinking how unrealistic they were and how different they were to my own experiences growing up. I wanted to make a film that showed the emotional side to friendships, how people really spoke to each other.”
Creevy said it’s wrong to call it autobiographical because it was an amalgamation of a number of ideas. But what about Shifty, was he real or some sort of zeitgeist?
He said: “I had Pakistani friends growing up in Harlow but it wasn’t until I went back after a few years away that I heard about a young Muslim guy called Shifty who got involved with drugs.”
Creevy gave the real life Shifty a copy of the script to get some feedback before he started shooting.
Creevy said: “The way the characters relate and talk to each other is entirely based on my life. The way his family joke around with Shifty is based on my own older brother always busting my balls. But when Shifty read it he said he wasn’t as emotionally attached to his own family as the person in the script.”
Creevy’s love of cinema comes through in our interview; he constantly quotes and refers to the work of other directors, and having done social-realism, he seems intent on making films in every genre.
His new film Welcome to the Punch starring James McAvoy, Mark Strong and Andrea Riseborough is inspired by Hong Kong action films.
Much like the education in Asian cinema Quentin Tarantino received from working at a video store in his teens, Creevy’s love of Hong Kong cinema comes from growing up watching John Woo films at his father’s video store.
He said: “It’s set in London but not the London of Shifty. Tarantino once said that the characters in Reservoir Dogs do not exist in the same world as the characters in Kill Bill. Shifty would not exist in this other London I’ve created.”
And what about the pressure of directing a cast filled with A-listers?
“Of course I was nervous, but I was just as nervous directing Riz and Daniel. But you soon learn that all directors are the same; we’re all just human beings trying to work out how to make the best possible film.”
There was also genuine appreciation for what one of his all time heroes Ridley Scott brought to the film as executive producer.
“To get a cast like this you need someone like Ridley to phone them up and say ‘you have to work with this director.’ After he filmed Prometheus he helped a lot with the post-production. He would suddenly call us to say he was coming to a screening and we’d all panic and rush to spruce up the place before he arrived.”
The future looks bright for Creevy; American distributors have high hopes for Welcome to the Punch and are planning a big release in March 2013.
He also hopes to complete his crime trilogy, each shot in a completely different style and genre, with Cry Havoc, a film he describes as a homage to Korean revenge tragedies.
There will be an exclusive screening of Shifty followed by a Q&A with Eran Creevy at 1pm on Saturday 6 October at the Odeon Printworks, as part of Greater Manchester Film Festival. Tickets are £7 (£5). Buy yours here.
Confidential is running a competition to give away five pairs of tickets to the event. Enter it here.
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