Producer: Camilla Bray
Screenplay by: Hugh Ellis
Cinematography by: Tony Slater Ling
Production Design: Jane Levick
Producer: Camilla Bray
Screenplay by: Hugh Ellis
Cinematography by: Tony Slater Ling
Production Design: Jane Levick
Shaun: Robert Carlyle
Daz: Steve Evets
Katy: Rachael Blake
Shaun and Daz are vibrant kids, wasted by their experience of education. All they have is their friendship and for Shaun his first love Katy. From the moment Shaun steps into our world he is bound to lose. Labelled as a violent bully he destroys himself and takes Daz with him.
Shaun has twelve years to reflect on an intense summer of love, sex and loyalty. But Daz's imminent death forces Shaun to go on a journey to confront his past. This is the story of a man full of intelligence and promise struggling to reclaim his life.
As kids, Shaun and Daz are inseparable, skipping school, racing bikes, knocking about down by the lake with Katy, Shaun's first love. Full of life, Shaun runs up against an education system that cannot contain him. He is squeezed and eventually spat out, taking Daz down with him as he self destructs.
Twenty years later, Daz is in a wheelchair and has eight weeks to live. Shaun is left to reflect on one gilded summer of love, sex and loyalty that marked the end of his innocence. His memories lead him to track down Katy, in a bid for personal redemption. This is a story of bright lives unfulfilled, of hopes that are snuffed out and then, finally, rekindled.
Growing up in small-town Britain, Shaun and Daz are joined at the hip. Through primary school and on in to secondary, Shaun is the scallywag, the charmer, the rebel. He's also dyslexic, frustrated by his own hands and their inability to make words do his bidding. All the way, Daz is in thrall to his best mate, his sidekick and partner in crime.
Twenty years on, Shaun washes, shops and cares for Daz 24 hours a day. Daz is in a wheelchair, and he has moved in to Shaun's house - the same one Shaun grew up in. Shaun works nights at the local petrol station, but Daz is his fulltime occupation. Daz's teenage son, Daniel, lives with them.
All Shaun has is his imagination. In quiet times he escapes to his bedroom and lets his mind wander. He thinks back to primary school, where things first started to go wrong. To a spelling test. He can't write a single word, fingers tense, brain unyielding. Another kid calls him a spastic. Outside, afterwards, venting his frustration, Shaun beats the kid so badly that he fractures his skull. The headmaster says Shaun's unteachable, can't be helped - he is expelled.
Adult Shaun accompanies Daz to the hospital. Daz has been feeling sick. The cirrhosis is very advanced, the doctor tells them, there's kidney damage, he's not managing his diabetes... He has eight weeks to live. Shaun says get a liver transplant. Daz doesn't want a transplant. 'Fancy a drink then?' Daz says.
Faced with the idea of life without Daz, Shaun can't stop thinking about the past, to a sunlit summer now when he was 16, carefree, riding Daz's motorbike through the woods, swimming in the lake with his girlfriend Katy. Katy is smart, helps Shaun with his coursework, looks after him. Daz is there too, as ever, with a girl of his own. Even when they're chased away from the lake by a gamekeeper with a gun, Shaun is as happy as he'll ever be.
But Shaun still can't write. Riven with self-loathing, his exam paper a mess, he storms out of the exam room straight down to woodwork, puts his hand in a vice and crushes it - that's the problem, that's how he deals with it.
Suspended from school, Shaun and Daz have nothing to do and they gravitate back to the school grounds. Messing about in the school one weekend, they set fire to the school hall. The police corner them on their bike as they bolt. Shaun jumps off and runs, leaving Daz on his own. Daz burns off, hits a police car, and is paralysed for life.
As Daz's state gets worse in the present day Shaun decides to track down Katy. She's a solicitor in Sheffield. At first he can't bring himself to talk to her, and then she refuses to see him. Finally she comes to visit him herself. Although it's great to see him, Katy is troubled by the intensity of their conversation and leaves.
Daz dies. Shaun packs up Daz's things and heads down to the lake to tell Daz's son Daniel, who's drinking with his mates, just like Shaun used to. Daniel's first reaction is he wants none of it - Dad was a pisshead, a waster. It doesn't matter.
But at the funeral, Daniel is there, and so is Katy - she comes to sit with Shaun. Afterwards, they head down the lake, like they did during that one blissful summer. Shaun tells Katy that he's missed her. That back then was the best summer he ever had. He scatters Daz's ashes in the lake.
And then the gamekeeper comes again, and they all hotfoot it across the fields. For Shaun and Katy it's like 20 years ago. Katy drops Shaun home and wants to know what his future holds. Shaun looks at Daniel. He'll look after him. Katy and Shaun embrace and say goodbye.
"If this story was in a newspaper it would merit one column and you'd turn the page. What this film does is it stops you turning the page. You go, let's just spend a bit more time here, let's have a look at this a wee bit deeper..." Kenny Glenaan
It was very important to me not to make a victim story. And it's funny! I'm dying to see it with an audience - there are a lot of laughs. That's just where we want it to be - so that by the time you get to the last third of the film you're not sure whether you should be laughing or crying. This is a tragedy with a happy ending.
You've got this peculiar situation in which you've got two friends and they're both sides of the same coin. One of them's the cared for and one of them's the carer. They're like Laurel and Hardy - they're joined at the hip. Shaun provides the legs and Daz provides the cash.
What's interesting about this situation is they both know that Daz is on borrowed time - Shaun knows that his friend is going to die in six, eight, ten weeks. How then does he cope with that? Ironically, it's through Daz's death that Shaun finds something else, manages to let go of the good and the bad from the past.
I love that idea of the cared for and carer relationship and how they're absolutely joined. When that's taken away Shaun panics. It's fifteen years since he's seen Katy and he goes on a mercy mission on the excuse of saying, 'Daz is dying'. But it's also to go, 'How's it going?' because emotionally what he's trying to cope with is his own survival. Without even admitting it to himself, if he can get on a level with her then he doesn't have to face up to Daz's death. Shaun has to deal with the situation emotionally as opposed to compartmentalising it, which leaves him exposed and vulnerable. It is something he feels very keenly.
We filmed on location in Bolsover, but it was a conscious decision not to give the film itself an explicit setting. I think that at its best the film is totally character-led, a purely emotional story. So the idea was to try and get a sense that it was any town that industry has upped and left, and show what happens in the aftermath of that.
I'm very interested in the notion of fate and what form it comes in. Do you create your own destiny, or is it economic, societal, religious - what is it and what impact does that have on you. On one level there is a background here which is absolutely economic: at the opening of the film they're sitting on top of a hill which is a coal slag heap - which is the past, which is covered over in grass. I didn't want to labour it; I didn't want to show you mines in the background and make it an 'Up North' story. But what Hugh [Ellis, writer] is saying is you cannot get away from your past. You are the summation of everything you've done, right up until now. I come from the theatre and have always been fascinated by the dysfunctionality in Hamlet. The question we have to ask is what is rotting in this particular 'state of Denmark' and why? It is this crossroads between fate and dysfunctionality that is the nub of the film for me.
It's a fascinating area the East Midlands. I'd never really been there but when I went there to study it, it's amazing. You drive down the M1 and it looks like beautiful rolling hills. Actually, if you go in two or three miles it's quite hard to get a brown loaf or fresh fruit. I was walking down the street one day and there was a guy washing his Capri. There were no giveaways or modern markers anywhere around me and I thought, 'This could be any time.' And there's still the smell of coal. A lot of the ex-miners get coal for life. Coal lorries still go about - there's that smell in the streets - very old-fashioned, very stagnant. The irony is that the coal is now shipped from China, even though they reckon there is still 200 odd years of coal below the M1. Growing up in these towns over the past 20 or 30 years must have been like growing up 20 miles from the field of a terrible battle, 20 years after the war, after something massive happened. It's over, but there's a weight of it. You can feel it. A sort of emotional oppression.
Three timeframes, one story
It's a pain in the hole! You can see why people don't tell three-pronged stories because you've got nine actors playing three characters. You can do it in a novel very easily because if you go back in time you see the same guy in your mind's eye. Obviously in the film we had nine actors, so it is about trying to make the perfomances into an emotional whole, part of one experience. I think Shaun's journey in the present is what it's all about and you have to make that active - that's the anchor.
Paul Laverty, Ken Loach's collaborator, knew that Kenny was looking for a Producer for this script. This is the first film I've produced but I've worked for Paul and Ken and Rebecca [O'Brien] for about five years now. Kenny's such a human dynamo - the very first meeting we had he asked, 'Well, when do you think we can shoot?' I was like, 'Woah! Okay...' But I loved the script, and I really admired Kenny's work so it seemed like the one to go for.
The key person who really got the film going was Lenny Crooks at the Film Council. They'd been wanting to make a film with Kenny for a while and they completely engaged with Kenny's vision for the film. At the same time the sales company, The Works, said they loved the script, and Vertigo Films came on board for UK distribution as the casting started to come together.
Aside from the Film Council, we had some private investors that came from a scheme called Cinema 2, which provides equity and cash-flows the tax break. They're people we've worked with before which always helps. We also had a combination of equity investors including EM Media, Scottish Screen, Glasgow Film Office and Hewland International. Finally, we did a German co-production with our partners Mediopolis Films in Köln, and a pre-sale to BBC. This patchwork finance model is one I've seen work at Sixteen, so I thought how can I make that model work on a smaller scale for us? It's hard work putting all the small pieces together but you know you're going to need every penny.
Even the people from the film industry in the East Midlands viewed us as shooting in the Bermuda Triangle. 'Bolsover?' the locals kept saying to us, 'Are you sure you've come to the right bit of Derbyshire. The pretty bit's just over there, where they're shooting The Duchess with Keira Knightley...'
But I loved shooting there, they've got a vibrant film scene going on and there are energetic crew who basically believe that pretty much anything is do-able. Tony, our cinematographer, brought a Manchester crowd over and we had a couple of Scots, so all in all the location was right in the middle of where everyone was coming from.
The school attendance record was not particularly high there so by the end of the shoot Vicky Chapman, our assistant location manager, had the kids on the estate running around with jackets on, with walkie-talkies, all involved. Once you make contact and they see you're doing something quite down to earth with activities they can contribute to, they get interested. On the days in which we were shooting in the middle of the estate, most of the residents would be out watching. We were lucky with the weather: people were hanging out, drinking their beer, watching the filming. We'd originally aimed for shooting in the summer and then it was those terrible floods in Sheffield and Nottingham. That would have totally put the kibosh on the production. But we'd delayed due to cast availability, and when we got there in September it turned in to this glorious summer. Appropriate? Exactly.
I've always wanted to write this script. I've tried to write it several times. But if you write it when you're too young it becomes too angry - and there's anger enough without loading on all the rest of it.
The script is based on my experiences at school, and also on meeting a guy I was at school with who was a trigger for one of the characters - it's very much about all of the people you leave behind. I've kept meeting those people; it's almost like being haunted by them. Because I haven't moved far - I've lived in all sorts of place but I've ended up living 12 miles from where I was brought up.
Meet the Remmies
I was a middle-class kid going to a very working class primary school at a time when things like learning disabilities weren't recognised. This was in a mining village just outside of Chesterfield - DH Lawrence country really. At the time, in the late seventies and early eighties, there were 40-plus kids in a class at primary schools and all the job opportunities were down the pit. I couldn't read until I was 11. All the kids that couldn't read were put in a group together at the back of the room, classified as educationally subnormal - the 'Remmies' - and they were the lowest of the low. When they went to Secondary school and they streamed them, the class division was just remarkable. All the middle-class kids were in the A-stream - an extraordinary coincidence. All the working class kids were in the lower stream and I was in the lower stream with them so I was in the strange position of watching them, yet not quite being part of it. A whole generation of young people was left behind in the 1980s.
The wider community also had an all-pervading feel of demoralisation, of small horizons and low expectations. All this flowed from the real and psychological damage of the miners' strike, which led to a kind of political inertia. The role of men and young men changed profoundly with the end of mining.
I got out because I had a very early dyslexia diagnosis - my mother, who was a single parent teacher, was determined that there was something wrong with me. That was all to do with class I think - she just wasn't accepting it. But I was always convinced, looking back on it, that I'm no brighter than they were. Either way, I think those kids knew instantaneously when they were put at the back of the classroom, what life was going to be about.
The truth of it is that even now - and I know this because I was a governor at that same primary school for 20 years - working class kids are 'thick' and middle class kids are 'dyslexic'. It is absolutely tragic to watch - kids with not very serious learning difficulties who could be helped, losing their self-confidence, knowing they are screwed for life.
Dennis Skinner said that self-confidence is everything. 'I left more talent behind in these villages,' he said, 'than I ever found in Westminster.' He's been saying that for 40 years, and it's still true.
Thoughts on Shaun
There is a tremendous lifeforce and energy that comes out of Shaun. All he has at 16 is the fact that he's quite an attractive guy, in all sorts of ways. Then that button gets pushed midway through the film as he self-destructs and he just can't stop himself. There's something admirable about him in later life though. It's his ability to care and to imagine that are the two things that make him such an extraordinary person. Which is what we were after in the film - trying to capture the vividness of his memory.
Thoughts on Daz
He's based on a kid I knew aged 11 who was so thin, I swear to God he didn't eat a thing. He was always unwashed and his clothes were shit but he was up for anything, like a young dog.
Dialogue, or lack of
That was driven by Shaun. You have to get inside his head. People like that hate to talk. You can't make him suddenly start having a conversation about his feelings. He's lived in a bubble with only his mate to talk to, and they only talk about trivia, so you've got a challenge portraying his imagination. I really think that's worthwhile, but it's a hard line to draw.
After working on Paul Andrew Williams' London to Brighton, Jane Levick says she was waiting for a project like Summer to come up: "I wanted to get my teeth in to something exciting, something that had some period elements to it, but most of all something I believed in."
Like several of the cast and crew, Levick saw echoes of her own childhood in the script. "I grew up on a council estate in Wakefield and the characters that were in the script were there when I was growing up - kids razzing around on motorbikes, causing trouble... those characters existed in my life as a kid. I lived it, so it was quite close to my heart. Even just seeing images of the Castle Estate in Bolsover - simple things like the garages and fields - made me feel, 'God, this is actually where I grew up.' So I just felt like I had an affinity with it."
Levick says her way of working is to start with character. "Because I'm dealing with environments, I have to place the character within an environment which fits them and is believable. So it's always done through character."
She and director Kenny Glenaan then spent an extended period on the Estate, talking to the residents, seeing people's homes and surroundings, and assessing what scars the miners' strike had left behind.
"I'm interested in layers and layering," she says, "and this film deals with the past as well as the present - so I needed to be able to bring the past in to the present with layers."
"Basically, with Shaun, life's kind of stood still. So I tried to freeze the backgrounds as if it had just stayed like that. The only difference was with Daz's son Daniel. His room was a bit more explosive, more of a typical teenager's room - he's the new life, he's the one moving forward. But even so, he still lives in Shaun's house, and the experience they've had is oppressive - you can feel it in the house."
When it came to the scenes from Shaun's past, ironically Levick and Glenaan opted for a more vivid palette: "The actual environment that they're living in is more jaded; whereas the stuff in his memories of being a child are brighter. It's turned on its head."
Shaun's house, the central location in the scenes set in the present day, presented a substantial challenge. "Kenny needed a large house because of the way he wanted to shoot it, the format, which was very wide. And the houses on Bolsover estate weren't big enough. But we needed to believe it was on the estate. We found a house up the road on another estate. It was a council house, but a massive one and it worked really well because it meant we could move through the house without getting ourselves caught in a corner. Kenny didn't ever want to just shoot in to a corner - he wanted the picture to be quite expansive. So we had to knock a wall down between two rooms, opened it all up so we could shoot right through."
"It could be really demanding. Some of Kenny's requests, you'd think, 'But I don't want to have to take a whole window out just so you can get that shot - it's going to cost me a fortune.' But I believe in Kenny's vision. We had a good relationship in that sense, and visually I think we hit it off."
Glenaan, Levick says, took all of his HODs to visit a working mine and venture down a mineshaft. "I think he wanted us to experience that so we could translate it across in to the film." Even so, Summer wears its social history lightly. "I didn't want it to scream 'pit village'. It was just a thing about tunnels - the tunnel that he pushes Daz through after they walk up the hill in the opening shot, for example. And then in Shaun's bedroom he has a headboard that looks like a pit wheel. Just subtle things like that."
The humour that underpins much of the film was also reflected in Levick's design. "I think we managed to do that within the set - like with the things that are around Daz in his room, his dirty videos on the floor. I don't even know if you can see them but they were quite important to me. I like to make the sets as believable as possible to the actor - an actor should be able to walk in and think, 'I've just walked in to a real house, a real environment.' That's why I always start with character."
Tony Slater-Ling first worked with Kenny Glenaan on 2003's Yasmin. "After that we've tried to work together on most things he's done since," he says, citing an instinctive understanding between them that has underpinned the partnership.
"The hardest bridge to cross when you're working with a director is trying to understand what they're seeing. What the cinematographer has to do, in its most basic form, is to take the pictures out of the director's brain and reproduce them. What clicked for me straight away with Kenny was that I could understand what he wanted to see."
Slater-Ling's first impressions of Hugh Ellis's script for Summer were that it was both beautifully written, and possessed of real heart. He also felt a connection with the lead character. "The way Hugh had written it gave you an almost instant picture of what Shaun is experiencing. Shaun is the same age as me, and the period was the same too - probably for Kenny as well. The stuff with the children, the mopeds, the push-bikes - they're all things I've done personally. So it has particular resonance for me in that I grew up working-class and to escape, you go to the woods and all that kind of nonsense. When I read it I could relate straightaway to the past experience of the characters."
His initial discussions with Glenaan concerned the portrayal of memory on screen.
"It's an awkward one because you have three storylines in which you're trying to portray three distinct time periods. So we looked at a lot of films that deal with memory. The director we talked about most was Tarkovsky, because his films deal with memory and the past, and what he does well is he merges the two. The Mirror was one of the first films we discussed, and if you look at that you go from one timeframe, one period, to another, literally in shot. There was another film called The Pawnbroker [Sidney Lumet, 1964], which dealt with memory, but in a much stranger way - sometimes you literally cut to the present person's point of view and he would be looking in to his past. So we looked at all those ideas and films that deal with how you do that as a starting point."
In the film there are subtle distinctions between the looks of the different eras. "For the places where Shaun is as a teenager - the hospitals, the schools, things to do with authority - we did this subtle colour shift, with more desaturation. The idea was that it's cooler to look at, so that when you do jump to when Shaun was happy, which is when he's out in the woods with his friends or riding his bicycle, you've got a shift to the lush, warm greens of the ponds and the fields. We were almost trying to make it like an old Polaroid from 1970 and 80 where the dyes have gone slightly funny. It's subtle but it's to mark the difference between when Shaun was unhappy and much happier - with Katy, Daz and as a child."
Summer, Slater-Ling says, is "quite a still film" with very little movement. Again, the stasis acts as a counterpoint to when Shaun was young, happy and vibrant. "When he's young and he's got Katy on the bicycle, you get that idea of freedom and flow. It was one of the few times when we were tracking with character but the characters are always moving - they give energy to the frame rather than us moving the frame around."
The main challenges for Slater-Ling were the predictable trio of light, time and money. "Usually on a film of this budget you end up shooting on high-def or on super 16. So Camilla [Bray, Producer] did a remarkable job - we managed to shoot on super 35mm, 240 aspect ratio. We had limited time to shoot it, so I knew we couldn't go back and reshoot stuff and also the weather changes by the minute and the clouds are variable. I wanted to have a digital intermediate once we shot it to have the ability to at least tweak the exterior stuff to match, because the sun's going up and down. Again, Camilla managed to get us all those elements."
Overall, he says, the watchword was to keep things simple, in line with the story. "I think there are only something like 340 cuts in the film - which is not a lot."
Trying to cast three characters at three different ages meant that Vicky Beattie spent the best part of a year scouring Derbyshire and Glasgow for credible performers.
"You had to find a child, a teenager and an adult for Shaun, Daz and Katy and they all had to fit together. Beattie, who has worked on several films in the area before, spread the net as wide as possible. "I did everything - school searches, every drama group, every young offenders' unit, every youth group, every hostel - because you don't know where you're going to find this talent."
In addition, the casting of Robert Carlyle as the adult Shaun meant Beattie had to repeat the process, first in Derbyshire and then in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The young Shaun, she says, had to have an explosive aspect to his character. "You are looking for someone who hasn't fitted in with the system to get that drive and rebelliousness, but you're also going to need someone who is a quick learner and has discipline - that's quite a hard find. Matthew Workman, who plays Shaun as a child, is an extraordinary boy. He's a little bit naughty, but he's also incredibly bright."
Beattie found Christopher Russell, who plays young Daz, at a fairground. "He was just sitting with his family, hanging out on the grass. He stuck out and I got him to come and audition."
Joe Doherty, who plays the teenage Daz, is himself a youth worker - he was spotted by Beattie bringing kids to an open audition and asked to join the workshop.
The teenage Katy meanwhile, played by 21-year-old Joanna Tulej, was discovered in a Nottingham bar. "We completely fell in love with her. There's something about her face, a sort of a luminous quality. She'd never done anything before - she's a fashion student."
Which left the teenage Shaun. "It was an incredibly hard search because there was no available channel to sixteen, seventeen year-olds in that area in Derbyshire. By the time we got to Scotland they'd all left, because it was summer holidays. We were looking for people who were living life a different way - they weren't the fitter-inners, someone who'd had it simple. Then we found Sean Kelly by asking friends to send any lads of that age group to us. He turned up, did a bit of improvising and we realised that he had something - a real charm, that was slightly older than his years. Which is part of the character as well - he's able to get the girl, he's got that magnetism. Sean came in there and he charmed everybody: he's a bit of a jack the lad. You want somebody who can hold the centre of a film. He had that."
Three characters, three different timeframes, nine actors total. An editor's worst nightmare? Not according to Kristina Hetherington.
"I suppose I've found out working with different timezones and different actors can be tricky but when I first read the script I just thought it was amazing, intertwining these three lives and getting the essence out - with the present being the focal point but actually almost the stillest part of the film. Not a lot happens really to our lead character but a lot does happen. It seems almost extraordinarily ordinary. That really appealed to me, that lack of anything melodramatic."
Is a film intercutting between three different time frames harder to edit?
"This was really good fun - because of the different time zones it wasn't that a+b=c, there wasn't a straightforwardness to it, so it meant that we could play around with the structure. We were able to do that quite a lot more than you would normally, trying different ways and seeing which was best."
One of the key points, she says, was how to begin the film. "Establishing 'Whose story is this?' is vital, especially in this case where you're interweaving different time periods. We had to make sure that we were successful in the way we introduced the story. The audience had to be taken in to the past through adult Shaun, and then walked through it faultlessly to avoid being jarred."
Several scenes involving seemingly magical shifts from memory to past to present in Shaun's imagination also posed questions. "I didn't actually realise that would be a challenge until we got in the edit suite but again, you've got to have your audience with you. You only get that magical experience a couple of times in the whole film so you've got to be really careful where and how you use them. In the end I think we did find the right places. I think you do feel that you go in to them through Shaun's head. You're in there, so you accept it."
Stephen McKeon has been collaborating with Kenny Glenaan since first working with him on Yasmin in 2002.
The majority of his scores are orchestral: "I've literally just come back from Prague doing a children's fantasy film with a full symphony orchestra and a choir. You couldn't get more mainstream than that," he says.
Summer was different. "It was a complete stab in the dark. I actually did one score for Kenny of which not one note remains. Literally - he saw it and he said the music was too beautiful, too nice. So we pressed the erase button and started again."
For his second attempt, McKeon changed everything. "I basically would turn off the lights in the studio and try and get in to the head of the character Shaun. That was it. The score is completely avant-garde. It's all guitar but I don't think any of it sounds like a guitar. It's all running through various machines and software. Everything was designed so that the audience would have nothing to make them feel like the music was 'commenting'. It all had to feel like a state of mind. Certainly, the first notes of music don't even sound like music. Kenny said at one point that they sound like radio waves, like something coming out of Shaun's head. Which is what he wanted. Shaun is in a dark place, his life's been crumpled like a piece of wastepaper and he's been thrown in the bin, discarded. So the music has to have the potential of becoming melodic, which it does at the end, but never so much that it felt manipulative.
"It's a very different way of working for me. Kenny would cut the music up, he would take it and throw it in somewhere where I hadn't intended it to be, and that would spark off another idea and then we'd try something else and discover that something we thought was working worked better somewhere else... and that would have a domino effect. So it really was all hands on deck, rulebook out the window. It got to the stage where we were in Kenny's house with an Apple Mac and the score all recorded and we were literally chopping notes out and cross-fading one note to the other. There's one scene at the end where he felt there was one note too many. Because of the wonders of technology I could literally scrub out the one little note. It wasn't just navel-gazing - it actually works. It is much better without that one note. It pushed the score across the fine line where it was becoming manipulative again, too beautiful again. I wouldn't be surprised if people come out going 'Was there any music in the film at all?' - it is as underscored as you can get. But it was worked hard at."
A freelance location manager working mainly in London and the East Midlands, Richard Knight works regularly with director Shane Meadows (Dead Man's Shoes, This Is England) and has also worked for the BBC on the Golden Globe nominated Five Days. Recently he has worked on the acclaimed BBC4 series The Curse of Comedy and also on Peter Kay's new comedy Britain's Got the Pop Factor.
"Initially we looked at various mining villages with small-scale rows of terraced housing. But very early on in the scouting process we agreed that these smaller villages, although looking quite cinematic, conjured up images from a different type of film. Bolsover is one of the larger small towns in the region, and sitting on the escarpment as it does, provided us with a brilliant combination of backdrop and space to film in its various different corners."
The locals in Bolsover were welcoming to the cast and crew from the start, he says, giving special mention to the district council and police - "Among the most accommodating I've ever met."
Knight picks out two specific challenges involved in filming. "The first was to continue to film over several weeks on the same estate in Bolsover - the incredibly accommodating residents were the cornerstone of this process and we couldn't have done it without their kind help. Secondly, the wonderful lakeside scenes were filmed at a very remote lake in the Peak District, half a mile along a rocky track from the nearest road. There was a time when I didn't think it would be possible to film at this beautiful location, but after begging and borrowing local resources, having Hugh the writer's two friends camping out for several nights with all of our equipment, and allowing two hours of each filming day just to get everyone up to the lake, we made it happen, and the end result I think was very much worth the effort. Although I think the memory of Kenny Glenaan stripping off completely naked in full view of all of the cast and crew and jumping into the freezing cold lake will haunt me forever."
Born in Maryhill, Glasgow, Robert Carlyle left school at 16 and worked with his father as an apprentice decorator for five years. At 21, disaffected, he enrolled at Glasgow Arts Centre, got in to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and began a career as an actor. He appeared in Ken Loach's Riff-Raff and Antonia Bird's Safe, before coming to international fame in Trainspotting and The Full Monty.
Alongside Summer, he will appear next in Stone of Destiny, a film about the retaking of the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey by a group of Scottish students. This will be followed by The Tournament, an action adventure, and the lead role in I Know You Know, directed by Justin Kerrigan (Human Traffic). He is currently filming a feature-length version of 24 in South Africa with Kiefer Sutherland.
Robert Carlyle Q&A
How did you become involved in Summer?
It came through my agent, but obviously it was Kenny's [Glenaan] name attached to it that was interesting, because Kenny and I had worked together before, years and years ago, as actors. And there was a piece that we tried to do about 5 or 6 years ago but it didn't happen. So I'd followed his career and was always keen to work with him. Summer was an easy decision because the writing was just fantastic. It was such an honest script and very moving and very simple, without pulling at it - it affects you and it moves you. Hopefully that's what it will do for the audience.
What is it like transferring from big-budget Hollywood productions to an independent film like this one?
Obviously a low-budget film like this presents difficulties, but I know that before I go in and if that was going to bother me then I wouldn't do it. My grounding in cinema was Ken Loach and that world - Antonia Bird, Michael Winterbottom's early stuff, low budget films - and I look back on all of that with fond memories. I loved it and I've never forgotten that. I think I work better in that kind of environment anyway. You can get too comfortable sometimes you know? Too cosy. As long as people want me to do these kinds of films I'll do them because I think they're important and they're documents of the time. That's the best thing you can hope for as an actor - to be involved in something that tells a story which talks about the surroundings and the time you live in. I loved the films in the late 50s, early 60s - Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, Billy Liar - these films told you what life was like then and that's the greatest thing you can get as an actor.
Did the script speak to you personally because of your upbringing in Glasgow?
I guess. You always find something that's in there, but that, to be honest with you, is on a superficial level - I think anyone can find anything in any character that can make them say, 'Oh yeah, that was like me.' It's more about how it affects you at a deeper level, and I was moved emotionally by the character's journey, and felt the pain in that character and understood that. That's not to say that I went through that but I can imagine being there. And in terms of the background of the people involved, yes, I was poorer than poor - I will never forget that. It's easy to bring that back in to your mind and your head when you approach this kind of work. I don't know a lot of people from that time these days, but I've seen them through the years and I've seen what life has done to them, how it's affected them, good or bad - but generally the downside. So that's at my fingertips. I totally understand all of that. What interested me in the adult Shaun was the idea that you turn round, you're 40 and your life's going past you. Over the past few films that has been a running theme for me - having to do something quickly, having to suddenly hold on to something. In Shaun's case it's this relationship from the past, because he knows that his friend's dying.
How was shooting in Bolsover?
Ah man, it was chaos, absolute chaos! Obviously I'm recognised around the place and people approach me, but this was en masse! I didn't think about it until I was getting down there, and then I realised of course that Sheffield is only ten miles away, and that's the eye of the storm for me [because of The Full Monty]. It was like the prodigal son - incredible - 'You came back!' Just magic, surrounded by kids the whole time.
It's a very quiet, still film. A lot of your performance involves not doing very much...
Shaun is the one that everything bounces off of - it was really important to show that. Whereas Daz is absolutely manic. There was no point in those scenes to try and top that - it was essential to be rooted. But I think there's an innate stillness in the character, anyway. Even in the younger Shaun you can see that. He's slowed down by the weight of his past - what you're seeing is the past 40 years inside a few weeks. That's the hardest thing for any man or woman to cope with - getting to that age and thinking, 'What the fuck have I got?' Me, I'm a lucky man - I've got a wife, three beautiful children, a career. But I can feel that all too easily.
And yet there's humour and warmth throughout the film, and by the end there's hope.
That's always important. People that have never seen, say, a Ken Loach film go, 'Oh, it's all just doom and gloom.' You actually watch them and they're very funny - because life's funny, particularly the arse end of it. There's a kind of gallows humour. Every community I've ever worked in they've got that. It's vital - so if Summer didn't have that it wouldn't be honest and Hugh [Ellis, writer] knew that. He lives there, he knows the people. Plus, it's important that there is some kind of redemption for Shaun. When he says, 'Goodbye' to Katy it's important that he's the one that says it. He's made the decision that there wasn't any life in that relationship. That's him doing something for himself, for the first time since he was a teenager, since he started looking after Daz.
The film deliberately avoids any overt politics. Was that important to you?
Absolutely. Me and Kenny spoke about that when we were filming and Kenny put it well - he said you can't avoid the politics. It's in the landscape, all around you. I think that's enough. You don't have to go in to that. It's not about that. It's about the results of that.
Why did you want to work with Kenny Glenaan?
I think it's his undeniable enthusiasm for every single scene he directs - every single scene is like a film in itself to Kenny and he gives it every ounce of his thought and his energy. And there's his enthusiasm for his actors, for his crew - you want to do it for him. That's not always the case, believe me. It's not just about being a nice guy, which he obviously is - it goes beyond that. He's got a touch of the Danny Boyle about him - with Danny you feel that it's your film, you're all doing it together. Kenny's got that and you can't learn that, it runs through you as a person.
How do you see Shaun and Daz's relationship?
They're like a married couple. We spoke about that. Just small moments show it, like at the beginning when he's pushing him up the hill in his wheelchair. That was a bastard climb to do and we did it a few times. Kenny was laughing at the other end - "There's that bugger sitting in his wheelchair eating his chips!" That's the relationship right there, in a lovely wee detail.
What did you make of Steve Evets?
He's absolutely tremendous - exactly the kind of person I love working with because he's so unaffected by any of it. He's one of those guys where anything he says just sounds funny. Particularly as Daz ,when he was complaining all the time - just a constant whine and moan. Because it went on all day!
Steve Evets grew up in Salford, Manchester. After school he joined the Merchant Navy for three years until he was kicked out for jumping ship (twice) in Japan. "I was a bit of a loose cannon in those days," he says. "I spent my 18th birthday in a Bombay brothel - it was really liberating..."
After several odd jobs back in Manchester he decided to "follow what was in my head which was to do some kind of acting or something creative." He joined a local college and did a foundation course in drama, and then formed a small theatre company with two friends, doing street theatre. It has led to fringe theatre, stage roles, parts on television and, following his performance in Summer, the lead role in Ken Loach's next film.
"It's always been tough going, but I've never been in this thing for the money otherwise I'd have packed it in years ago. I'm a jobbing actor, so to keep going you've got to have a passion for it."
Evets, who is 48, may just be reaching his peak. "That's another thing about the acting game - you're never too old. It's not like a footballer whose career's over at 30-odd. In this game you're never too fat, thin, ugly, old. Things are going good for me lately with this project and of course Ken Loach's project. I'm just happy because I've been plodding on for years and I love what I do. It's nice that other people are putting a bit of faith in me now."
Steve Evets Q&A
How did you become involved in Summer?
Kenny Glenaan cast me in an episode of a series called Buried [Channel 4, 2003]. Kenny has kept me in mind for things since then and he got in touch when the script for Summer had been written. I went to the read-through and Kenny said he'd keep me in mind if they got the money and got down to casting for it. Which he did.
He's not miserable but he has got a chip on his shoulder because of his circumstances. He gets enjoyment the only way he can - he takes solace in things like alcohol, and the drugs to help cope with the pain. Daz's approach is, 'Well fuck it, I'm going to die anyway so I might as well have a few drinks and enjoy my last few weeks.'
I think he is quite a strong character in a way - he's got to get through day to day with himself and his condition and his environment. He's a survivor - he's come through what happened to him and had to cope with it. And then of course in other terms he's quite weak and dependant.
How has his relationship with Shaun evolved as they've grown older?
At school when they were young Shaun feels very, very protective of Daz and looks after him, so Daz has always looked up to Shaun. Then, in teenage years, as they've got older Daz becomes on the same level as Shaun yet still looks up to him. Then, when the accident happens, it's quite a big change in the relationship - first of all he feels like he was deserted by Shaun and secondly it's made him a bit bitter towards him because he's ended up in a wheelchair and he's restricted. Now Daz has that guilt trip over Shaun. Shaun feels that guilt and tries to make amends by still looking after Daz but now in a different way. Whereas at school he protected him against bullies, now he's a servant in a way, trying to make good his mistake for leaving him in the past. Daz, when it suits him, will not hesitate to bring that up and use it as a weapon. That's where Shaun's weakness comes in - because he lets him do that.
Did it complicate matters having two younger versions of Daz in the script?
It makes it easier. Normally when you accept a role a lot of the time's spent mentally filling in the blanks of that character from the past - what was his family life like? What was he like at school, first job, all that. But when you've got it in the script it's easier to come to terms with - you can look at his school days, see how he related to his teacher, what the first girlfriend was like and all that.
Daz and Shaun are lifelong friends. How did you get on with Robert Carlyle?
I'd never met Bobby before, but we got on fantastic. We just liked each other and had a natural bond and we're still in touch now. We're both working-class lads. Obviously he's a lot more successful but I'm sure Bobby started out as a jobbing actor and he's not forgot that. He's a genuine bloke and he made me feel completely at my ease - there was no 'I'm a big star and you're privileged to be working with me.' None of that. We got on so well, laughing and joking all the time. We talked about the characters and we both knew where they were coming from.
How was filming in a wheelchair?
You spend a couple of hours in one of them things and you suddenly realise just how unhelpful the world is. I know there's ramps about and parking but you should try it - put yourself in a wheelchair and try and get up a pavement and through a door. It's one of the hardest things, and the strength you need in the upper part of your body to compensate for the loss down below - it's weird. You do feel helpless and trapped and frustrated. You can get in a rage just trying to go and buy a newspaper.
How did you film the scene where Daz goes careering down the hillside in his chair?
It's a stuntman for the long, long run - you know what health and safety's like these days - but they also wanted a stuntman in the chair for the close-up eight-foot roll down the hill. I thought, well bollocks I'll do that - the camera's close so he's got to look the part. Kenny was quite pleased about that I think. We had this crash mat in front of me with about eight of the crew behind it to stop me. Every time I went for a take we kind of crept the wheelchair back a few more feet until we ended up with about a 20-foot run at this crashmat. I would have done the long one if I thought I could have survived it. But seeing it was the first day of filming, if I'd have broke any bones I would have been bollocked so I was quite happy for the stunt guy to put a wig on and let him do that one.
Do you see this as a film with a political message?
I didn't look at it that way. I just saw it as two life-long friends dealing with the shit that life has thrown at them. You could politically analyse it if you wanted to but I didn't approach it that way. I looked at it as a real-life, everyday event that some people somewhere are going through.
What was it like filming in Bolsover?
It's just a typical working-class environment. Just a normal estate probably mirrored throughout the country. I'm from Salford and I can see the same thing down there. Places are stagnating because of lack of funding. It always amazes me that we're in the 21st century and there seems to be a bottomless pit of money to kill people, but not for places like that.
When we were on location at some of the estates it was like the circus had come to town. You could see the glee on people's faces because there was something going on in their neighbourhood. And of course, when they saw Bobby they were absolutely over the moon just to see somebody that they'd seen in movies. It was nice to see these people suddenly have an interest in their life and when the film comes out they're gonna be, 'I recognise that street, I know that house, that's that shop we go in,' and that's a buzz for people.
Although Rachael Blake was born in England, her family moved to Perth, Australia when she was eight. Ten years later she moved again, this time 3000km east to study acting at the National Institute for Dramatic Art in Sydney. She has since appeared in the Australian police drama Wildside, the Channel 5 comedy Suburban Shootout and Channel 4's Clapham Junction, directed by Adrian Shergold. She also starred in the award winning Australian film Lantana.
She will next be seen in False Witness, an Australian / UK television co-production currently filming in Australia, to be transmitted in early 2009.
Rachael Blake Q&A
How were you cast?
I had worked with Tony Slater-Ling, Summer's DOP, on Clapham Junction. They were looking for an older Katy and Tony suggested me to Kenny Glenaan. I received the script and I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was. Then a meeting was set up for me and Kenny and we just sat down and talked about it - that was how I got the job. It was all happenstance really, sheer luck.
What did you and Kenny discuss?
We spoke about who I was, and what I was doing in the world. I got the feeling that Kenny was looking for someone who had the same mindset as Katy - someone who was trying to get away from home and be something outside of their childhood, be seen as something different. Our conversation naturally strayed on to that path. He asked me all sorts of questions about my life, and it sort of slotted in to where he felt Katy sat.
What struck you about the script?
I cannot tell you how unusual it is to find a script that was as crafted as this one. But it was the way it straddled three timeframes - I think we often do that in our lives. By getting to the present we're constantly moving through the past, re-editing it, trying to fix it in some way. I had never seen it put so eloquently on the page before.
In what way do you identify with Katy?
I grew up in England and then I went to Perth with my family and it's one of the remotest cities in the world. Australia is a huge expanse of country and when I left Perth I didn't know what I wanted - I just wanted something other than what I had. It's a dangerous thing to do to yourself - you sort of burn your bridges behind you and you take off in to the blue yonder and you don't know what's out there. In a way that's what the young Katy did - she left home, she left that situation that had happened and struck off in to the world and had no idea what to do or how to get what she wanted. She just worked very, very hard and then of course she comes back - and that's the shocking part, when you go home. I feel like that's constantly happening to me, I'm constantly trying to make sense of my life as it's going on. Life can get turned upside down in a moment, absolutely silently. I completely identify with that.
I think she's a very ambitious girl who's trying to redefine herself. She was always someone who was very intelligent and quite a hard worker. Even when they were kids she was top of the class, she finished her homework, so she's a very smart girl. In a way, Shaun is all of those things that she shouldn't have liked that she kind of did. I think leaving the place they grew up was always on the cards for her - she was always going to go and make a go of it. I don't see how she could not have done that. She escaped what happened in the past, which she felt responsible for. But it was very much not dealt with and she had to go back and deal with it.
What does the grown-up Katy make of the grown-up Shaun?
I think in the beginning he's exactly what she expects - he's working in a service station, he's a bit depressed, kind of anxious - and she sort of ends up with this incredible view of someone who is generous and responsible. Who he ends up being for her is something that's completely diametric to who she thinks she's going to meet.
How did you find shooting on location in Bolsover?
To me Bolsover was like Perth - like any small town that's so small you outgrow it quickly. If you're doing anything to move forward you find the resources in those sort of places aren't great enough. So being in Bolsover - it just reminded me of what I left. It was funny, Hugh Ellis had lines in the script of kids going, 'Ooh, nice car,' and stuff. And they were actually doing that when we were driving through - it was like the place was caught in time.
Can you talk about working with Robert Carlyle?
Bobby is just somebody that wants to come on and do good work, and get to the nub of what it is you're doing. We shot a night scene in a gas station and we were there for about five hours or so. At the beginning of the night one person turned up with their dog and a mobile phone across the road. Then you'd look across every now and again and they'd have rung up their family and they'd be there. By the end of the night this street was lined with probably 100 people, all just waiting to see if he would sign something - and he did. He sat there and signed every single one of them. Wherever we went there was a trail of people.
Did you have any contact with Joanna Tulej, who plays Katy at 16?
I did actually. It was strange because Kenny had told us that he wanted to look at them as though we were separate people. You're three individuals; you happen to be playing the same role. We spoke about should we have the same mannerisms, what should we adopt, what should we not. So I did meet Joanna and I could very much admire her for the girl that she was and how courageous it was for her to do this - here she is studying fashion and stepping in front of the camera. And Kenny too - using people that have never been trained before is incredible.
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