TRCH Soundstage

Filmmaker Luke Radford on I’ll Be Here After The Factory Is Gone and Working-Class Cinema

12 February 19 interview: Ashley Carter

It’s been almost sixty years since Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe’s story of disenfranchised youth, was adapted for the big screen. Now, Notts filmmaker Luke Radford has brought the story back to life with his new project I’ll Be Here After The Factory Is Gone. We caught up with him to find out why Arthur Seaton’s story is more relevant than ever in 2019…

Tell us a bit about your new film project
I’ll Be Here After The Factory Is Gone is a narrative music video set in Nottingham, inspired by Karel Reisz’s groundbreaking and iconic 1960 film adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night And Sunday Morning. The homage is an exploration of how a character like Arthur Seaton is still relevant and identifiable to a modern-day audience.

How did you first get involved with the project?
I saw Saturday Night and Sunday Morning a few years ago and immediately read the book. It’s over sixty years since it was first released and the environment, themes and characters still resonate. I took themes and key elements of the original narrative and placed them in a contemporary setting with Arthur Seaton now working in telesales rather than the Raleigh factory.

Why was Saturday Night and Sunday Morning such a big influence?
The characters, setting, themes and dialect felt close to home. It sparked an interest in working-class identity, my own identity and became an anchor point for a lot of the photography, music and film I’m interested in. The film and book felt real, honest and refreshing but also full of anger and alienation, with Arthur fighting the anticipation of settling down and turning into his parents. I’ve shown it to a lot of friends who normally wouldn’t be interested in watching a black and white film, and they enjoyed it because it still resonates. Almost everything about the story and its characters is still relatable and recognisable in 2019.

What aspects of that story remain the most relevant in 2019?
The void of the factory has been replaced with call centres and retail work, and the young disenfranchised are boxed up from nine to five, with thoughts of the upcoming cathartic blow-out of Friday and Saturday night seeing them through the week. We still have to navigate boring work environments with condescending and patronising managers, but you bite your tongue so there's cash in your pocket for some new trainers and drinks on the weekend.

Obviously the film focuses on the lives of working-class characters. Do you think that’s quite rare in the film industry now in general?
I think the majority of working-class characters we see in film and TV are caricatures: violent, dumb and racist, or drug dealers, mainly due to how they are represented in the press. There’s a lack of authentic working-class characters on screen because writers and filmmakers from that background are rarely given a platform or voice.

Is anything being done to combat this?
Danny Leigh, film critic for The Guardian, recently said that the British Film Institute are now measuring class and socio-economic background in their funding, which is a decent start. Filmmakers and creatives from working-class backgrounds as a whole have to work twice as hard to get their work made and distributed. Affordable cameras, editing software and social media have helped massively in getting music videos, shorts and low-budget features produced. It’s important to create your own opportunities as well; I’m not going to sit around waiting for investors and schemes for money.

What has the response been to the project so far?
Positive! The original is not only a classic but culturally significant, so I felt the pressure. While the film isn’t a licensed remake, Steven Hess – curator of Woodfall Films (the production company behind the original film, Kes, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and A Taste Of Honey) – has been supportive and understands what I’m trying to achieve. People shouldn’t watch I’ll Be Here When The Factory Is Gone expecting a direct adaptation; this is my take on the narrative and characters. The homage is a tiny glimpse of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. There’s still a lot that can be explored.

Music is very integral to the project. Where did that come from?
Notts indie band The Ruffs provided the soundtrack for the film. MST is the drunken blur of Saturday night and Who Do You is the cold, sobering comedown of Sunday morning. I worked with The Ruffs lead Connor Spray on a music video a few years ago, I told him about Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and he completely got it. The two songs perfectly encapsulate the swagger and reflective calm of Arthur Seaton.

Who else was involved in the film?
Ryan Harvey and Michael Jobling from production company Them Pesky Kids produced the film; they understood the original, the characters and context. The homage wouldn’t have happened without them. Television Workshop alumni Aaron Lodge (Bodge) and Kelly Jaggers played the leads alongside Esmee Matthews; their performances felt honest and not just emulated versions of the original actors. Early on in pre-production, I had a strong idea of the film’s look, and director of photography Will Price had some amazing input and completely understood the tone and atmosphere.

When and where can people see it?
The film will be launching soon on Them Pesky Kids’ Vimeo. It was screened ahead of the original late last year at Broadway during a season of films celebrating working-class filmmaking talent in front and behind the camera. It was a dream come true having the film play to a home audience back-to-back with the original. The city doesn’t do enough to remember and uphold its literary heritage. The work of Alan Sillitoe is relevant now as much as it was in the fifties; I’m happy that the homage pays respects to an incredible story while also potentially attracting a younger audience to Sillitoe’s work.

I’ll Be Here After the Factory is Gone is showing at Broadway Cinema on Saturday 23 March after a screening of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, showing in tribute to the late Albert Finney. You can book tickets at: https://www.broadway.org.uk/whats-on/saturday-night-and-sunday-morning-introduction

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