film reviews | movies | features | BRWC BEING KEEGAN

BEING KEEGAN is a psychological, coming of age short film from award winning and BAFTA shortlisted Director/Producer Stephanie Zari and Kenneth Branagh Drama Award winning playwright Jilly Gardiner, starring BAFTA nominated actor Stephen Graham (THIS IS ENGLAND, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN).

The film addresses themes of childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, guilt, hope and redemption, with a narrative that take place across the 1970s, 80s and present day.

Having attracted BAFTA and OSCAR recognised talent who have worked on the likes of LORD OF THE RINGS, THE HOBBIT, BATMAN V SUPERMAN, STAR WARS EPISODE VII, SPECTRE, THE MARTIAN and this years Academy Award winning SPOTLIGHT, the production has been a team effort of in-kind support and collaboration. Now, with 70% of the film shot – the producers are launching a crowdfunding campaign to finish the film and bring this ambitious short to the audience.

The film follows 10-year-old Jay and his best friend Sean, growing up in Liverpool Football Club’s 1970’s heyday. The pair spend their days playing football in the backstreets of a marginalised Liverpool, gripped by the rise of celebrity footballer Kevin Keegan. When a tragic accident changes their lives forever, we follow Jay’s journey into adulthood and explore the ramifications of childhood trauma left untreated. After escaping to the Royal Navy 25 years ago, an adult Jay (played by Stephen Graham), is forced to return home to the city he knew as a child, now a landscape for atonement.

Watch the teaser trailer here

Liverpool born writer Jilly describes her inspiration for the film, “I watched how the boys in my street had a relentless drive for football as others might have for religion – a feeling they could be whatever they wanted to be no matter who they were.  Instead of asking a new friend ‘Are you Catholic or Protestant’, it was often more likely ‘Are you Liverpool or Everton?’  Writing Being Keegan, I wanted to capture the magic and optimism of childhood in 1977, and how our paths can drastically change with the trials of life’s realities, as we grow older.”

BEING KEEGAN began life as a small project based on the characters and events of a stage play by Jilly. Director Stephanie Zari had an immediate connection with the material, “As kids, we all dreamed of being the latest pop star, comic book or sports hero. No matter the era or if you are rich or poor; a child’s magical ability to hope is universal. So what happens when the hope disappears, what happens when a child suffers a psychological trauma that is left untreated because ‘that’s just how it was back then’? According to UK Mental Health Statistics, the long-term effects of childhood PTSD into adulthood are staggering.” Having experienced mental health issues within her own family, Stephanie connected immediately with the material and saw the opportunity to produce a story which addressed a generation of children, now adults, affected by juvenile pain beyond their control.

Joined by a Sundance selected Producing team, the filmmakers began the challenge of coordinating a myriad cast and shooting modern day Liverpool for 1970s and 1980s. Casting focused on championing emerging Liverpool talent lead by Stephen Graham who returned to his home town in January for filming. Director/Producer Stephanie Zari comments: “The film draws very heavily on emotional connections with our childhood. Casting a powerhouse like Stephen who is native to the city was key in bringing the added depth and texture of the story to life.” Stephen said.  “Working with Director Stephanie Zari was a great experience, she had a distinct and deep connection to the material but also enabled me to feed into the character, she knew exactly how to create those moments of magical realism that make the film unique.” 

Zari explains how Liverpool became an integral force within the story, “I was struck by Liverpool’s changing cityscape, a city regenerating and repairing itself and found quite a parallel with our main character’s journey. By using Liverpool as our protagonists ‘bête noire’, he drifts through the streets of his childhood at once familiar and unrecognisable; a mix of ‘tinned up’ forgotten communities and dramatic iconic architecture; the Liver buildings and Albert docks. These areas connect him to the people of Liverpool and the hope that football still brings to so many today.”

BEING KEEGAN makes use of archive footage alongside location period photography to create a unique layer of reality. Zari discusses her vision for the piece; “With an element of magical realism, I wanted to capture our main character through shifting aspect ratios that reflect present day, 1970s and 1980s Liverpool with a visceral style, which I hope will evoke the audiences memories of their own childhood .” With its highly stylized visuals and A list cast, the filmmakers aim to secure selection in world wide, top tier film festivals such as Sundance, Berlinale and Cannes.

The films score is composed by Justin Lockey of hit British band EDITORS and new super group MINOR VICTORIES.  Post-production has begun on the footage shot to date and attracted heavy weight support from established BAFTA and OSCAR recognised Sound Supervisor, Jason Canovas of Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post (LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT TRILOGIES, WORLD WAR Z, THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN) Company 3and Rushes, (BATMAN vs SUPERMAN, SPECTRE, THE MARTIAN, SPOTLIGHT) who jumped at the chance to support this high quality British film.

The film’s completion crowdfunding campaign is designed to build an audience and secure funds to licence archive footage, complete period scenes and deliver the films final scene; a 1970s action train sequence to be shot in association with Heritage Railways in the UK. Zari elaborates, “Our period train action sequence is the key scene that propels our protagonist’s, and in turn our audience’s, emotional journey. Although a scene of this nature is extremely ambitious for a short film, with the communities’ support and our world class, award winning post houses, we are sure we can bring this scene to life to the highest standard.”

The Producers are looking to raise £12,700 to finish the film and in return for financial support they are offering a range of perks from invitations to screenings and props from the film including items signed by Kevin Keegan, Stephen Graham plus members of Liverpool’s 1974 FA Cup final team.

Access the INDIEGOGO campaign here:

Watch the teaser here:

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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