Sign up for our weekly newsletter
Metronome Sessions

Lone: Filmmakers Luke Radford and Toby Curson on Their New Promotional Short Film for Emmanuel House

12 November 20 interview: Jamie Morris

Filmmakers Luke Radford and Toby Curson and Emmanuel House fundraising officer Rosie Needham-Smith tell us about the support centre’s new promotional short film, Lone

What is the premise of Lone, and why should people watch it?
Rosie: We wanted to make a film that would raise the profile of Emmanuel House around Nottingham but also educate people on the kind of work that we do and the people that use our services. At the start of the process, I saw Soul Boy, which Luke and Toby did earlier in the year, and I knew the style that they work in was something we wanted to replicate with our film. 
Luke: One of the support workers at Emmanuel House told us some of the different experiences that people who use the services have had. We felt it was important that the film be rooted in real experiences.
Toby: The overall theme of the cases that we looked at was the misfortune that was out of people's hands. Instead of it being a direct notion of drugs and alcohol or stupid decisions, a lot of the time it was things that were out of their control. 

The cast includes first-time actors, including Emmanuel House service users. What sort of coaching and training did they receive prior to shooting?
Luke: Nothing – we just went and did it. We shot one scene and the actor, Lisa Terry did it straight off and was absolutely amazing. Lisa’s character comes in near the end of the film and gives the main character guidance as to what to do and where to go to receive help and support.

When did you begin work on the film? Did the pandemic cause any difficulties?
Luke: After things were really crazy with the pandemic and then it felt like things were going back to normal a little bit, we shot it during that time. We followed guidelines as much as possible and stripped back the crew. For the most part, it was the key cast and crew running round in one car to each different location and getting what we needed. It was quite refreshing shooting like that.
Toby: The lead actor was off for a while with an illness she thought was possibly COVID, and the sound designer was chained down a bit when he was halfway through the score, so it definitely gave us quite a lot of setbacks, but more in the post-production phase than during production.

We felt it was important that the film be rooted in real experiences

Which Nottingham spots were used as shooting locations?
Luke: Me and Toby feel that with films made in Nottingham, we see the landmarks quite a lot – you always see a shot of the Council House or a shot of a tram – but Nottingham’s not just that. In the films me and Toby make, we really want to make a point of seeing more of the margins – stuff that's happening outside of what we would normally see.
Rosie: I think that element of the film is really powerful. There's quite a long scene where the main character is walking around the city centre at night and in the morning, and you can see different recognisable parts of town. It's not really the obvious ones, but it's places that people will walk past every day. There's another bit where she's sleeping at a bus stop and I'm hoping that will hit home with people when they watch it because that bus stop, for example, is where all of the Bridgford buses come from.
Toby: We didn't know this when we shot it, but after we finished filming we were speaking to Lisa, and where she wakes up in that bus stop is pretty much right outside where Lisa lived for eight months in the Broadmarsh entrance.

Is there anything else about the film you think deserves a mention?
Toby: Our main character, she doesn't end up in housing – there isn't really a happy ending to tie it all together. The amount of cases we heard that were completely different endings, it felt like it was wrong to be like, "Welcome to Emmanuel House, now your life is better." That's often not the case, and it's often just the start of the journey. 
Rosie: It's the message that Emmanuel House is the first step of recovery out of homelessness. We always say it's three stages: prevention, intervention and recovery. There's not just one solution to a variety of different problems and situations. It would be difficult to pinpoint one of those because everybody's circumstances are different. 
Luke: Every single scene was improv as well, which again was quite exciting and refreshing for me and Toby, to walk into filming knowing where it's going to start and knowing where it's going to end, but just letting the actors fill the scene and figure out what direction they're going to take it in. There were a couple of scenes where we were working with [lead actor] Justine Moore and said "Try this" and she said "No, my character wouldn't do that". That's amazing – you're that involved in who your character is that you know exactly what the right decision is.
Toby: That’s only possible through improv, as well. If it wasn't improv, it would be a little bit more "Well, we've written this, we know where this film's gotta go". But by taking that element away, it gives her a bit more freedom to be able to feed back to us, and I guess that's why the film feels as real as it does.

Lone is available to watch on the Emmanuel House website from Thursday 12 November

Emmanuel House website

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

YCA 2021 Enter Now