British cult classic Dead Man’s Shoes is returning to the big screen as you’ve never seen it before, writes Laura Burgoine…
As part of the BFI’s programme Made in Britain, launched last year to celebrate contemporary British cinema, and the ten year anniversary of production company Warp Films, who also made This is England, the 2004 film will be screened at the Royal Elizabeth Hall with a live music accompaniment.
Clayhill musician and Bermondsey boy Gavin Clark is one of the performers playing, due in part to his long-term friendship with Dead Man’s Shoes director Shane Meadows.
The film, set against a backdrop of small-town life in the council estates of the Midlands, was a breakthrough movie and quickly became a cult classic, despite not doing overly well at the box office when it was initially released. “Not that many people came to see it but it had this undercurrent vibe and it actually changed British cinema,” Gavin says. “For me it was wonderful to see Shane doing this; he wasn’t necessarily in a dark place at the time but all his built-up emotion came out in this film and it became this classic thing.”
From there the director went on to create the award winning Twenty Four Seven and the acclaimed This is England, but Dead Man’s Shoes was really his turning point as a filmmaker, Gavin says.
From the beginning Gavin knew the film would be a big deal. “I thought it was brilliant, but I don’t think many people thought it would be good because not that many people understand… anything really,” he chuckles. He admits Shane has always included him in his projects. “It was amazing to be involved in the beginning and to see it all firsthand. I’m not a genius, really I just wanted to be a milkman growing up – until I realised the hours and that didn’t quite work for me.”
Though he now calls “chilled out” Brighton home, Gavin still has a strong connection to south London. “I love Bermondsey. I know London Bridge from when it was proper,” he laughs, “It wasn’t all swanky when I was growing up; when did that even happen?” Coming from a big Catholic Bermondsey family, Gavin was born at Guy’s Hospital and his grandfather Patrick Sullivan was mayor of Southwark. “I used to go out with him putting out Labour leaflets, I used to go down the Blue, and I’d eat pie and mash,” he recalls. “I love that all that is still there, it would be a travesty if it changed.”
All these years later, now “grey and old” the musician is thrilled to be re-scoring the original film. “It’ll be a totally different energy to the film because it’s live. It’s so special, it will be amazing,” he says.
Dead Man’s Shoes Live is at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX on Friday March 29. Admission: £13.50-£18.50. Phone: 020 7960 4200. www.southbankcentre.co.uk