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'Catch Me Daddy' opens in UK to rave reviews - thanks to streetcast actors, says Daniel Wolfe
Catch Me Daddy, the brilliant debut feature by Daniel and Matthew Wolfe, opens in UK cinemas today (Feb 27th) having received widespread rave reviews - and Daniel Wolfe has told Promo News that the movie's success is based upon the memorable characters played by largely unknown actors, discovered as a result of extensive street casting.
Catch Me Daddy is the story of Laila, a British-Pakistani girl who has broken the codes of her culture by running off with her white Scottish boyfriend to a small Yorkshire town. Tracked down by the male members of her family and their mercenary white enforcers, the action takes place over a single 24 hour period.
Featuring a superb cast of unknowns – including Sameena Jabeen Ahmed as Laila, who won Best Newcomer at the London Film Festival last October – Catch Me Daddy is Daniel Wolfe hugely successful transition to longform filmmaking after building a remarkable body of work in music videos - accompanied by his brother Matthew, who has also been a major contributor to Daniel's videos.
Photographed by Robbie Ryan, and edited by Tom Lindsay and Dominic Leung, Catch Me Daddy addresses Britain's cultural divisions, and the subject of honour killing, like no other British film. But talking to Promo on the eve of the movie's release, Daniel says the intention was always to make an exciting film driven by the characters' motivations rather than an issues-based movie.
And when Britain's top movie actors all seem to be public-school educated, it was the Wolfe brothers faith in finding actors through street casting in the north of England which was the key factor. As a result, Catch Me Daddy is one of the most important British independent movies in years.
When and how did you and Matthew come up with the idea for Catch Me Daddy? And how long did it take to being in production?
Daniel Wolfe: We knew we wanted to make a western. We’d read a couple of articles about white guys being involved in bringing girls back. The initial image was – a car rolls into town, men asking questions, handing out fivers and slaps. Looking for a girl.
We pitched this to Mike Elliot and Hayley Williams who responded well and commissioned a screenplay. From then to production was a year and a half.
Have there been a few false dawns and near-misses with other feature scripts before Catch Me Daddy happened?
Yes, I’ve written other things. Tim Francis and I optioned a great script called ‘Bridge & Tunnel’ a while ago. We went over to New York and tried to get it off the ground but it was tough.
I’d been sent lots of scripts but nothing that either my brother or I were sure on. After Blind Faith, they were films set in the Rave scene. After ‘Prayin’ they were prison dramas …
How do you and Matthew work together? Did it differ on Catch Me Daddy from your previous collaborations?
I talk to actors. We do other stuff together. On set I’m the vocal presence, but everything is discussed. We did Paolo [Iron Sky] in the same way.
It's not obviously autobiographical, but did you draw from personal experience in terms of story and characters? Were you inspired by anything else?
In creating characters we draw from people we’ve met. During street casting this continued, whether in dialogue we picked up or in characterization.
You have a fantastic cast of unknown actors. Where did you find Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Conor McCarron, Barry Nunney, Adnan Zakir Hussain, Anwar Hussain, Ali Ahmad…?
Extensive street casting. My brother, George Belfield and myself stationed ourselves up in Yorkshire early on. We had a great team working with us headed by Lucy Pardee: Hayley Williams, Leanne Flinn, Agusta Sakula Barry, Shenaz Khan. They were unrelenting, searching tirelessly for interesting faces.
"Basically filmmaking is full of challenges….but that creates energy"
The film is a vivid and bleak portrait of life in West Yorkshire, and you highlight an important social issue. It's also a fast-moving thriller. What came first, what (if anything) is more important – the social issues or the characters and story?
The characters are at the heart of it. It’s about people and their struggle. Freedom and control. Addiction and attachment. It’s important to bring awareness to the subject, and we did this through character.
How did your background in music video help you in making Catch Me Daddy? If so, were there any in particular videos that helped? Or was this really a step into the unknown?
All experience behind the camera is good. You learn, you find a voice. You learn to tell a story visually. You’re always learning.
A video that helped with the finance was The Shoes ‘Time To Dance’
What were the biggest challenges during the shoot? How difficult was it to achieve the effect of all the action occurring in a very short period of time?
Endless challenges. From the casting process. To being delayed by heavy snow. To the visual continuity of the landscape because as you point out it’s set over 24 hours. To working with a predominantly street cast ensemble. Basically filmmaking is full of challenges….but that creates energy.
It’s already been screened at festivals, and won awards, over the past few months, but as Catch Me Daddy is about to go on general release, what are your hopes for the film now?
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Can you talk about what you will you do next? Would you like to do another feature soon?
We’re developing our next feature now.
Any new music video projects on the horizon? And any words of wisdom for those currently involved in the business of making music videos?
I haven’t been sent anything to pitch on, so no…We want to make a video for Future.
Alex Hulsey who worked with us on the film is off shooting Wilkinson as we speak. George Belfield who shot second unit has been doing good work. That’s great to see.
On wisdom, I don’t have anything that wouldn’t sound glib in a sound bite.
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