Looking shifty

Shifty, released next week, was made on a total budget of less than £100,000 but it is already being talked of as one of the buzz British films of 2009.

Esquire has seen it and can confirm that this gritty tale of 24 hours in the lives of a pair of small-time drug dealers living on a housing estate on the outskirts of London is worthy of the praise it garnered at this year’s London Film Festival. The film is based on events witnessed during the childhood of first time director Eran Creevey, and drew a strong British cast on the quality of the screenplay.

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“We got an amazing cast, and everyone did it for about ten pence,” explains Riz Ahmed, who plays Shifty. “Everyone believed in the project and that’s the way the film’s funded; it’s completely democratic everyone’s on equal shares.”

Danny Mays, who plays Chris and recently shone in the all-star cast of Red Riding as the wrongly accused Michael Myshkin, says it was Creevey and his team who convinced him to come on board. “As much as the script was amazing and the characters were really well defined, it was a case of him (Creevey) as a person and all the producers around him. They were all just starting out, very enthusiastic and, you know, fantastic people.”

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Ahmed, who first came to our attention in Michael Winterbottom’s The Road To Guanatanamo, believes Shifty could work as a blueprint for getting small but important film projects off the ground. “I think we’ve got to look at alternative ways of funding films in the UK,” he says, “Hopefully with Shifty we can inspire the next generation of film makers that they can do this. We shot the film in 18 days for £100,000. It’s quite a statement.”

Mays, meanwhile, has only just returned from Hollywood where he was on the top-secret set of the new Tintin film, directed by Steven Spielberg. Also in the can for Mays is the Nick Love remake of The Firm, the seminal Eighties football hooligan film that originally starred Gary Oldman and Phil Davis. We’ll have more on The Firm here in due course.