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Adam Smith • Director

“It’s full of anarchy and wildness, but also a big heart”


- British director Adam Smith has brought his debut feature, Trespass Against Us, a thrilling crime movie with a warm heart, to the BFI London Film Festival

Adam Smith • Director

Following its world premiere in Toronto, British TV, music video and concert film director Adam Smith’s debut feature Trespass Against Us [+see also:
film review
interview: Adam Smith
film profile
was screened at the 60th BFI London Film Festival. The film is part of the festival’s Thrill strand. Cineuropa sat down with the director to discuss the making of the film, casting and its music.

Cineuropa: This is your debut film and, given your body of work in television, music videos and concert films, I imagine you’ve had a fair few offers to direct features in the past. Was Trespass Against Us one such project or was it something you sought out yourself?
Adam Smith:
The development of Trespass Against Us started 12 years ago, a friend of mine was making a documentary, he showed me some footage and it was amazing. I’d already done an observational documentary and didn’t want to do more documentary stuff. But I said we’ve got to make a film about these guys; this incredible story and these incredible characters. I’ve developed a number of films over the past ten years, read a lot of scripts; it’s been a lot of work with seemingly nothing to show for it, which is all part of the journey. Trespass Against Us was the best script I’d ever read, and certainly the one that spoke to me most.

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Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson make for great casting for any film, let alone a debut feature. I presume that helped when it came to funding?
Film4 were already on board, and there were a lot of people who were really interested because the script was good, but it definitely made a difference when Michael signed up, too. It pushed our budget up a bit, although not by much because there’s a whole series of boxes you have to tick on whether the film will make its money back. It’s not an obviously commercial film, but I hope a lot of people are going to see it, and I hope it moves a lot of people.

The kids are fantastic as well, how did you cast them?
They were all local kids; we had an amazing casting woman called Anna McAuley who went around travellers’ sites and all the schools that had kids thrown out of lessons and we did some workshops. Then we found Georgie Smith, who plays Tyson, and the first time I sat down with him to talk to him about it, I teased him about something and he kicked me in the shin as hard as he could. Then Alastair Siddons (the writer) laughed and kicked him in the shin so we both had these purple bruises when we went home. A lot of the other kids couldn’t swear properly, they couldn’t drive. Georgie can swear and Georgie does know how to drive, he’s kind of the real deal – he was amazing.

I’d like to ask about your collaboration with the Chemical Brothers, whose score fits so perfectly with numerous scenes in the film. Is this the result of hours of discussions or did you develop a shorthand with each other from having worked together previously?
When I first read the script and I was thinking about music, I just thought the Chemical Brothers music is full of anarchy and wildness, but also a big heart and that was, I felt, what the story, the characters and the world had. The palette would be wrong if it was just electronic music, so we needed to find a different soundscape for this. Tom Rowlands wasn’t keen on that at first, but, once again, he really loved the script. He attended a read through with all the actors, went away and wrote a bunch of music. He got classical musicians to record that, then took it back into his studio and messed around with it. What we ended up with in the chase scenes, are a classic Chemical Brothers track in the yellow Mini Metro one, and a pizzicato viola or violin, which still has the Chemical Brothers’ trademark energy, in the other one. The scene at the end is really powerful and emotional – it touches you deeply and I think Tom has done an amazing job.

Our 60th BFI London Film Festival coverage is run in collaboration with the UK National Film and Television School's MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation.

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