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"The Country Is Spiralling Downwards and This Is My Attempt at an Intervention"

London, UK
Uncommon ECD and director Sam Walker on TEA, his debut short film set against the backdrop of the British seaside
Sam Walker's day job is as an executive creative director at Uncommon Creative Studios, but he’s also a director on the roster at Riff Raff and has shot both music videos and commercials. 

TEA is his first major foray into the world of short films. It's set against the fading glory of a once great British seaside town - Bognor Regis to be exact - and tells the story of Amelia, a young Polish woman living with her dad on a rundown caravan park. She's terrorised by two local youths and, suffering their relentless intimidation and ever-increasing violence, she takes matters into her own hands after her dad's failed attempts to defuse the situation. 

The trailer for the film has been made - you can see it here - but Sam is in the process of attempting to raise funds to get the full film made. Given the state of society, political discourse and rising xenophobia in Britain - and elsewhere - today, we think it's well worth it. 

LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Sam to find out more. 

LBB> You're an ECD by trade - is this your first foray into directing? Has directing always been something that you've been interested in? 
Sam> I’ve been a director as well for most of my career and have been directing at Riff Raff for several years now. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can do both. Uncommon has been amazing and make time for me to direct both ads and music videos through Riff Raff, and write and direct long form films of my own.

LBB> Why did you decide to set the film in a British seaside town? I think the British seaside is one of the most photogenic settings in the world - but was there more reason to it than that? 
Sam> Bognor Regis is the 1950s idealised vision of Britain’s past glory. It’s what people imagine when they think about the way things used to be. There is a striking contrast between the beauty of the British seaside and the deprivation suffered by some of its poorest residents. It is a microcosm for the state we’re in.

LBB> And then why a caravan park? What was the thought process behind that?  
Sam> There is a great irony that caravan parks for many people are symbols of holidays and happiness but can equally be icons of socio-economic hardship. There is also something peculiar to the makeup of a caravan itself. Because of their relative isolation, they can quickly go from feeling like safe places inside to feeling trapped and vulnerable purely by what’s happening on the outside.

LBB> What can you tell us about the narrative? Without giving too much away, what's it all about?  
Sam> TEA is about a Polish girl living with her father being terrorised by two local youths. In an ever-increasing campaign of intimidation, and with her father seemingly unable to help protect her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. 

LBB> What inspired the story? Is it from an emotional place or less attached?  
Sam> The country is spiralling downwards and this is my attempt at an intervention. On the surface TEA is a thriller, almost Western in structure, but there is social commentary subtext to the story. After the financial crisis and 10 years of austerity, divisions are being deliberately stoked right across the political divide. Immigrant versus native, left versus right, public versus private. This is a film about misplaced aggression and the terrible consequences that can have.

LBB> It's about a young Polish woman - is there any reasoning behind her being Polish? Does it have anything to do with political discourse today, Brexit, rising xenophobia?  
Sam> Brexit has fuelled an incredible anger in the country and it feels like we’re reaching boiling point. Racial tensions have been deliberately heightened by certain sections of the political class and the Eastern European community has in many cases become a focus of that rage. The world has been here before and history tells us it doesn’t end well.

LBB> Tell me about the production of the trailer - who did you produce with and what was the shoot like?  
Sam> The film was produced through Velvet Joy Productions and we had an excellent cast and crew. It was an incredibly intense two-and-a-half days which could easily have been seven days but it was worth it and you can see the commitment and talent of all those involved on screen.

LBB> Why is now the right time to make the step and take this?  
Sam> Directing is in my blood and is something I just have to do. I feel like my voice as a director is becoming stronger all the time. 

LBB> The trailer is made and now you're looking for funding via Indigogo - tell us about the Indigogo campaign and how you're looking to get people involved.  
Sam> We’d love everybody to watch and share the trailer and help us crowdfund and finish the film and get it on the festival circuit next year. It’s certainly not a film that’s easy to ignore and I’m excited for people to see it. To see the trailer please follow this link: 

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