Sam Walker talks TEA and the corrosive nature of Brexit
Uncommon ECD and Riff Raff director Sam Walker has released a trailer for new short, TEA, which deals with the divisions being sewn within Britain.
The film, called TEA, is the story of a Polish girl and her widowed father who are terrorised by two local youths, but who have revenge planned. The story is informed by Walker's take on the current state of British politics and the divided feeling within the country, which has been widely exacerbated by the storm that is Brexit.
This film is a warning, a screaming siren against going to war with ourselves.
The UK was meant to be leaving the EUY today after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's, now failed, 'do or die' promise, and the release of the trailer and crowdfunding push is perfect timing.
Below, we spoke to Riff Raf director Walker about the genesis of the film and how, as ECD at one of London's hot-shops, he finds the time to take on such projects.
Above: The trailer for Sam Walker's TEA.
Can you tell us what compelled you to make TEA?
I can see the country is spiralling downwards and TEA is my attempt at an intervention. Like a family intervening when a loved one is hurting themselves. The current direction of travel is extremely dangerous and it’s up to everyone who is able to raise the alarm where they can.
Bognor Regis is... a 1950s idealised vision of Britain’s past glory.
Do you think that these divisions within communities were as pronounced before Brexit?
The country is hurting after the financial crisis and 10 years of austerity, and the political climate has been weaponised to create division between different people and communities.
Whenever there's a recession there's a tendency to pull back and become blander, both in advertising and in film.
Why did you choose to set TEA in a seaside town?
Bognor Regis is the archetypal British seaside resort, the place people imagine when they talk about the way things used to be; a 1950s idealised vision of Britain’s past glory.
Its incredible beaches and nature are juxtaposed against a struggling town and tensions with the Eastern European community. Bognor is a distilled picture of the state we’re in.
Above: Walker, left, on location on Bognor Regis beach.
Where did you find the actors starring in it?
Our excellent cast were all found through Martha Stewart casting. We did extensive casting and improvising to achieve the terrifying intensity between the characters.
Uncommon have been brilliant, and understand directing is in my blood.
Do you have experience of living in that sort of environment?
I grew up by the coast on the Wirral, and my connection to the sea has always been very strong. It's a very different environment to Bognor but it's impossible to be from Merseyside and not understand the effects of austerity and economic hardship on communities.
Above: TEA's main character runs for her life.
The UK was meant to come out of the EU today; what impact do you think the last three or four years has had on this country with regards advertising and filmmaking?
Whenever there's a recession there's a tendency to pull back and become blander, both in advertising and in film, but the exact same conditions also presents an opportunity for genuinely ground-breaking creativity.
When do you think TEA will be finished and what are your plans for it when it is?
Our aim is to finish TEA before December and then start on the festival circuit.
How have you balanced your work with Uncommon with the making of TEA?
Uncommon have been brilliant, and understand directing is in my blood. They make room for me to direct, either writing and directing long form films of my own, or ads and music videos through Riff Raff.
Above: One of the protagonist's pursuers.
What do you hope people take from TEA once they've seen it?
This film is a warning, a screaming siren against going to war with ourselves. Native vs immigrant, rich vs poor, right vs left, public vs private. A nation divided is a nation defeated.
Do you have any other short film plans post-TEA?
I have three other short films I'm hoping to make soon and a feature I've written in development, too.