Source: PM (Radio 4)
27 June 2000
(Presenter).....this sequence of Essex Boys harks back to the real live cold-bloodied killing of three drug dealers in Essex in 1997.
(Soundtrack music plays, voiceover starts "Do you want to know about Essex Boys? You never grass your mates". Background sounds of...violence)
(Presenter) Its director, Terry Winsor, wrote it in the aftermath of the death of Leah Betts from Ecstasy. It was an attempt he says to de-glamourise villainy.
(Terry Winsor): My film, Essex Boys, is a kind of journey that an 19 year old takes, initally thinking that the gangster world is a glamourous world, he gets sucked up into the world of villains and basically comes unstuck. He gets chewed up by it and is spat out the other side".
(Presenter): Essex Boys comes hard on the heels of Gangster No.1; Honest; Circus; Love, honour and Obey; Rancid Aluminium; Hard Face...the list goes on and there are yet more to come. Adam Smith, senior features writer of Empire magazine, says the originality which created such British classic as Get Carter and The Long Good Friday, is long gone, they're all derivative.
(Adam Smith): Quentin Tarrantino started it in Hollywood and even one of the most successful of the latest British offerings has carried it on. You got Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which a year ago took a huge amount of plaudits. I mean, Vinnie Jones invented a film career, the director became a star, dates Madonna, and so on, and so it became a massive success and then, of course, everyone just jumps on that particular bandwagon.
(Presenter): But, put to one side the geezers, the moody soundtracks, and East End rhyming slang, Adam Smith thinks there's not much else from current productions.
(Adam Smith): Britain doesn't have all that much to say about itself in the end. I mean, where are the Scorsese's, or the Francis Ford Coppola's, or the Robert Altman's of our film industry? They're nowhere. I mean, there is nothing really to say about British life because we are in the end, I think, frankly dull."
(Presenter): For his part, Terry Winsor is proud of his film Essex Boys. He believes he has a moral tale to tell, but he wouldn't be drawn on his rivals.
(Terry Winsor): I'm not really prepared to slag off other film makers. I think any film that gets made is a great thing. I think it's very hard to make films, and anyone who makes a film deserves a pat on the back no matter what they might be".
(Presenter): The film critic, Alexander Walker, believes mistakes have been made and there are other crucial factors which beg further questions on public funding for the film industry. £150 million has been allocated over the next 3 years. The challenge is to beat Hollywood at its own game. Not a chance says Mr Walker.
(Alexander Walker): We have traditionally lacked good producters, we have a great number of good craftsmen and we have produced excellent directors, and in some cases, actors who have gone on to become international stars, but what we have lacked and what has stopped us from challenging any Hollywood systems is people who know how to assemble a film and to think in bigger terms than the small screen.
(Presenter): The final judge, he says, will be the box-office, and, the appetite at the moment for heroes who don t obey the law seems undiminished.
(Alexander Walker): We live at the present moment in a yob culture, in which the consciousness of the nation seems to be preoccupied with violence. Not just violence on the screen, but violence at international football games, violence on the streets, and this very quickly in the cinema, which has traditionally thrived on two elements, sex and violence.
(Presenter): And if any of them do make money no one gets hurt, and it's all perfectly legal!
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