BOYRACERS written by Alan
& directed by Chris
Boyracers is a timeless, authentic coming of age story, wide in its appeal with a heart that most people will recognise. It has a clear voice, a humour and a truth that will resound with a massive proportion of the population. Boyracers is set in Falkirk, a small Scottish town whose allegiance is torn between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Stuck in the middle of these two cities, sitting just off the M9 motorway, its main industry today is retail â€“ a far cry from the heavy manufacturing industries of the previous three hundred years. Life used to call young men to those labour intensive industries whereas now the only call is to the parade of faceless chain stores that line the high street. Beyond that horizon is the pull of the two cornerstone cities of Scotland. This dilemma is at the heart of the lives of the townâ€™s teenagers and at the heart of the film Boyracers. It taps into the universal conundrum of what we do with our lives...
This dilemma is put into sharp context at the top of the film as we realise our place in the grand scheme of things. From deep space to the insignificant pinprick of Earth, we then see the dot of the British Isles and zoom into the clouds before Scotland comes into focus then push on into the small, unimpressive conurbation of Falkirk wedged, like a drunk teenager between the bouncers of Glasgow and Edinburgh. This is where Alvin lives with his Dad.
Falkirk isn’t wrapped in the clichés of these bigger cities and it has a broader sense of what the majority of teenagers experience when growing up in small towns around the UK. A ring road strangles the town into submission, an unimpressive high street, a nightclub where most of the town’s married couples met. This is Falkirk and its establishment in the first 5 minutes of the film sets the tone for the rest of the film. Alvin loves Falkirk, or at least he loves those people in it. His is the battle between security of what he knows and uncertainty of venturing into the unknown and something bigger and better… As the main protagonist, he is our hero, in more cases than not he will represent you and your teenage years. We like Alvin, we see ourselves in him and we want him to make the right choices in life.
Boyracers speaks to me as a director on a universal level; it tackles issues that every teenager, from any background and almost any country, has to deal with; peer pressure, love, a sense of identity and a worry about the future. What it avoids is being too self-consciously kooky or quirky, a genre that has been plundered one too many times. I feel that, as a director, Boyracers can be a styled and authored film but that authorship is very much from Alvin’s viewpoint; my job is to create his view of the world.
Alvin is the main protagonist, he’s an individual but also a voice of reason, he’s the auteur, the everyman and the narrator. We immediately warm to him because we see ourselves in him, we understand his issues, we feel his mistakes… we probably made them ourselves. We see no action that he isn’t involved in; the universe, or at least his life in Falkirk, goes on around him. This is important cinematically as it becomes a first person vision. The story is not about growing up in Falkirk, it is about Alvin growing up in Falkirk. Like every teenager, his life is the film in which he is the star.
Because Alvin is so central to his story the look of the film can be slightly romanticised. We see what he sees when he looks out of Belinda’s car windows, we feel annoyed by Frannie and Brian, close to Dolby and attracted to Tyra because Alvin is. The musical references that we hear are his musical references and, as such, dictate the mood of the film. It is not shot literally from Alvin’s point of view, but it is a world that is created by how Alvin sees himself within it. It’s the world of the music promo. The look of the film should be premium in its feel; anamorphic lenses adding a strong cinematic look, shaped and natural single source lighting where applicable. The world needs to feel real with just a slight sense of heightened reality. When we see Alvin look out over the town with the boys at night, or as Tyra kisses him at the party it will hint at the Hollywood epic, it will feel grand and far reaching, venturing further than the humble indie movie style into something that fits how Alvin would direct the movie about his life. The reality is in fact infused with pathos…
Boyracers has a real heart, it is also set in a real world and that world, can appear desolate at times. I will hint at romanticising this desolation by giving the film a bold grade so that Alvinâ€™s world feels like it has a personality and isnâ€™t flat and grey. It will have texture and, again where relevant, it will reflect the heightened reality of the music promo.
In addition to the tone, the camera needs to feel like it is part of the action and is always with the boys or Alvin. We feel included, not put at a distance. I want the camera to be the other character, never the voyeur. We are with Alvin and the boys all the time, little is shot from a distance. The camera is there with them, it is Alvinâ€™s voice, his version of events, it needs to be with him and near him. By doing this the audience are right in the mix with the group and itâ€™s dynamic.
The Falkirk Cruise
These are real meetings that take place monthly in the Staples Car Park and are the inspiration behind the filmâ€™s setting. I would like to capture that authenticity by shooting, almost doc style, the events that take place here. It feels handheld and spontaneous; we arrive with the boys, we discover the story of what is going on around them by being with them. We see the event as if through their eyes. This physical closeness to our characters will make the world of the cruise appear far more exciting and visceral. Even though the location and the weather hardly lends itself to glamour, the point of the meet is that it has an atmosphere which is as charged as the custom cars on display. It is a viewing gallery in which men and increasingly women can preen and peacock, boys can salivate over engine size and girls can find themselves a good ride.
The World of Belinda
The car scenes are the core of the film. It is where the boys are at their funniest, most honest and most relaxed. Wherever possible I see the windscreen as the little proscenium arch in which their story unfolds. Shooting from the bonnet back into the car allows us to engage fully with the character, wit and pace of their interactions. I believe that these scenes should be played out in one shots as much as possible. By doing this we really start to believe the group dynamic that takes place here. The pace of the banter and the energy that naturally occurs between the guys will snap along and not wait for you to catch up. It is about spark, vibe and interaction as much as it is about the written script. The key to this is in the casting and in the rehearsal. With clever casting and intense rehearsal Iâ€™m fully confident an amazing dynamic will be created.
Finally, the world of Belinda is as much about what happens in the car as what we drive past. It acts also as our guide as we see what Alvin sees when they burn around Falkirk. Looking out onto streets, the centre, the ring roads, the Grangemouth Oil Refinery; all pass by in a moving montage of the world in which these boys exist. We will cut back to these images throughout the film, they are our transition points and the frames that allow us to contextualise the world we are in.
The ‘Directed’ Scenes
The directed scenes very much break convention in the script and the camera and look should reflect that. I would look at changing formats at these points and down grading the look so that it has a lower quality digital feel as if shot on a ‘behind the scenes’ camera. (I would lose the anamorphic crop at these points as well and perhaps go into a 4:3 format.) We would not be creating beautiful compositions in these sequences but rather more of a ‘home movie’ look. I would avoid showing the paraphernalia of movie making in these sequences as well, sparks and grips, cameras and track etc... It is about the moments between Alvin and his younger self rather than the circus of a film crew. We can imagine that this exists off camera but it feels more like a personal moment between Alvin and whom ever it is he is speaking to.
Boyracers will create stars from our cast. I want to feel that we are discovering new heroes in this film. We will cast from theatre schools and drama classes as well as looking at open castings. I want to find kids that play on instinct as well as those that have a strong, theatre trained background. The former will give the film a rawness and vitality, which will be its lifeblood, the latter will ensure that we have strong, bankable performances from kids that have camera experience.
The casting process needs to be thorough and intense but I definitely feel it will be worth it. Kids, City of God, Bubble, This is England all have unknowns at the heart of their drama and the results speak for themselves.
There is a great opportunity for some brilliant cameos as well in the bouncer (Kevin Bridges), Alvin’s teacher Mrs Gibson (Ashley Jensen) and of course Alvin’s father. I’m keen on the idea of Kevin McKidd for the part of his father. It feels like a well placed gentle nod back to Trainspotting as well as a clear generational shift from that film. It also broadens the film’s appeal into the US market.
Culture and Styling The world of Falkirk and the social world in which the boys exist will both have a contemporary feel to them in their fashion and styling. It would be wrong to give Falkirk a broad brushstroke of naffness, or a generic cheapness to the youth of the town as this is not what exists. There are a number of tribes that co-exist on the social scenes and some of these are represented in the film. There is a strong preppie element to Connor and his social circle that reflects the Ivy League aspirations of its members. Frannie, Brian and Dolby will have a more sports casual look but it will still (apart from the Rangers top) be high street label led. They have a disposable income and the reality is that it will go on clothes and socialising. Alvin will be more inspired by a contemporary look mixed with some vintage pieces referencing anything from the 50s to the 90s. These will be subtle touches in his look (t-shirt design, hair styling, jean cut) but will separate him just enough from the others in a way that heightens his personality; it needs to be clear that Alvin is different from his friends. Itâ€™s vital that the film reflects a truth about look, style and attitude of its characters as they would exist today; ignoring this would trip the film up into patronising clichĂŠ.
MUSIC & SOUNDTRACK
At the heart of Boyracers is the soundtrack to Alvin’s life, songs that tell us who he is. From his mother’s love of Suede through Faithless via Joy Division before resting on the epic soundscapes of Sigur Ros, Alvin’s tastes are eclectic, farreaching and timeless.
Boyracers is not cornered by the need to contemporise or to be on trend. It relishes the classics and reminds the older audience of their youth, as well as informing the younger generation of what came before them. The soundtrack to Boyracers will be a direct reflection of Alvin’s character, his personality, his mood and his projected thoughts. In keeping with the ‘authored’ narrative of his story, so it is with the sounds that we hear. The soundtrack to the film is the mixtape of Alvin’s life… LEFTFIELD - OPEN UP WHIGFIELD – SATURDAY NIGHT FAITHLESS - INSOMNIA SUEDE – INTRODUCING THE BAND HOT CHIP – NIGHT AND DAY GNARLS BERKLEY – RUN SEAHORSES – LOVE IS THE LAW FYFE DANGERFIEL – SHE NEEDS ME THE LIARS – NO 1. AGAINST THE RUSH
FRIENDLY FIRES – SKELETON BOY INFINITY – GURU JOSH SUEDE – THE NEXT LIFE SONS AND DAUGHTERS - AXED ACTOR SUEDE – PANTOMIME HORSE JOY DIVISION – DIGITAL BEASTIE BOYS – SO WATCHA WANT SIGUR ROS - VALUR SUEDE - STILL LIFE
conclusion This is an amazing opportunity, with such a strong script, to create a film that feels truly original and captivating. With a confident and cool aesthetic combined with a commercial, accessible narrative, the film will appeal to both a UK and International audience. BOYRACERS shows us the world of the teenager as it is today, and this world, the world of a small town, as seen through the eyes of Alvin, is a unique, timeless and universal look at the trials of youth.