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“I feel a massive affinity with European cinema”

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Shane Meadows • Director


- Cineuropa interviewed British filmmaker Shane Meadows, whose This is England has become a TV series, recently airing its third season

Shane Meadows • Director
(© BFM)

Cineuropa has interviewed British filmmaker Shane Meadows, whose 2006 film This is England [+see also:
film profile
has become a TV series for Channel 4 in 2010 (This is England ’86, two episodes), 2011 (This is England ’88, three episodes) and last year (This is England ’90, four episodes). Meadows attended the Bergamo Film Meeting, where he met the audience as part of the Europe, Now! programme.

Cineuropa: Your manifesto film on England in the 1980s, This is England, came out in 2006. It then became a saga with a TV spin-off for Channel 4, consisting of three seasons and a total of 11 episodes…
Shane Meadows: It was a really incredible experience, you know, because it was the first time that my work had success. I suppose that in England, none of my films had been successful, and This is England was a success for the first time. The only thing with This is England is that there were so many great characters in there that I couldn’t examine some of the characters, especially the female ones. I couldn’t really do anything with them in a feature film because you’ve only got time to show so many people. So when we did the series, and we had four hours to tell the stories, you end up with a lot more time to be able to look into these people’s lives. So, over the course of This is England ‘86, ’88, and ’90, we’ve made 12 hours of television, so anyone who’s a fan of This is England the film can keep catching up with those people as they grow up throughout the 1980s.

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Music has had a huge influence on your movies.
When I was a kid growing up, my mother, my father, my sister and I would all play music in the house at the same time – all different music. So my dad would have Bill Haley and the Comets playing, my mum would have Smokey Robinson, my sister might have Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet, and I’d be listening to The Specials, so the house was a melting pot of styles. All the music was kind of great, you know, so I’ve grown up loving Marvin Gaye and I’ve grown up loving rock-and-roll and rockabilly. I didn’t really like The New Romantics, who my sister was into at the time, but I listen to it now and think, “Actually, it was great music.” So I kind of grew up living in a house that was a melting pot in terms of music, and it was only natural, I think, that when I started to become a filmmaker I was quite inspired by what Scorsese did on Mean Street, where he was one of the first people to actually put his own taste in the film. He loved The Rolling Stones, and he’d use their music, rather than using scores or, you know, a classical soundtrack that had been written by a composer. And so I took great inspiration from Scorsese and thought, “If he can do it, I can use the music I grew up with,” and it’s gone hand in hand with that ever since.

The United Kingdom is currently wondering whether or not to stay in the European Union. What's your stance on the so-called European cultural identity?
It feels pretty sad, really. I can’t speak for everyone in the country, but I know that I’ve always felt part of Europe and I feel European, and maybe that’s because for the last 20 years, I’ve been travelling with my films around Europe and I’ve always been so warmly accepted in every country that I’ve gone to, and I’ve always really had the luxury of visiting many of the countries that we’re part of in the European Union, so I do feel an affinity with it. So it would probably be a sad day if we were pulled out of Europe and became separate again: it would seem a bit strange. Obviously my vote’s not going to change anything, but from my own point of view, I feel a massive affinity with Europe and European cinema.


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