EXCLUSIVE: Stage and screen star David Harewood was intrigued when an unsolicited short film script titled man to man arrived in his inbox. “I literally read it in 20 minutes. I was moved,” he enthused about the screenplay by young writers Selorm Adonu and Ignatius Kalule.
Harewood read man to man a second time and soon went to a meeting with its director Shehroze Khan and members of Million Youth Media, one of the fastest growing platforms for young filmmakers in the UK. It is run under the auspices of Fully Focused Productions, a community network of young creatives from across the UK and beyond. Watch a clip from the film below.
“I was moved by their stories, where they came from, how they approached the business, and I agreed to meet them,” Harewood told Deadline.
“They’re all children!” he wondered. “I was blown away by their passion for cinema. They all come from diverse backgrounds, and I loved how they were inspired by storytelling and film,” said the actor known for his work in TV shows. Fatherland, the night manager and super girl and movies including blood diamond, during a conversation with Deadline in London.
Harewood is also a stage creature. A recent appearance saw him boldly cast as William F. Buckley Jr. opposite Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey) as Gore Vidal in a steamy drama about the clash of political titans called best of enemies, by James Graham (sherwood) at the Young Vic Theater in London. The play moved to the West End in November. The play won Best Theater at the Sky Arts South Bank Show Awards this month. (Full disclosure: This reporter is a member of the South Bank Show Awards panel.)
He’s a busy man, but Harewood told the MYM band, “Okay, I’m in!”
MYM filmmakers are between 18 and 20 years old. It was one of Harewood’s main attractions. “I’m so happy to be working with this new generation of filmmakers – black Britons who feel like they have stories to tell.”
More importantly, “we are now entering rooms we have never been invited to before. We just have to hope that it progresses in all things so we can start running things in a more diverse way,” Harewood said.
“There are some really talented black creatives in the industry now, not just on camera but behind the camera as well,” he said. “It’s really exciting.”
Harewood said he was moved by his association with the man to man cast and crew. “They helped me,” he said.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve done in a long time,” he said of the film about a son, played by co-writer Adonu, and his father (Harewood). “I liked the character and I liked the idea. It’s the power of storytelling. This man, he’s trying to talk to these young kids. There’s a whole new generation of young black Britons there- down now and maybe they’re not in touch with the generation that we are.
man to man is partly based on Adonu’s relationship with his own father. Co-writing the script with Kalule, he said, “I was more focused on trying to do something in this time zone, but he, my dad, wants to do something in his time zone, and the zones collide. a lot. The older generation still thinks they are right, and in man to man they see the new generation as spoiled, lazy and always on our screens,” Adonu told Deadline. “It’s like, ‘Dad, can you hear me?!’
Adonu continued, “I wanted to create this idea of stopping blaming each other and meeting in a time zone in the middle.”
man to man was one of five shorts that Rosa Powloski, head of strategy, programs and operations at Fully Focused and MYM, and Nick Bedu (ERP), the organization’s co-founder, invited Deadline to attend a community screening in north London.
The movies are queen of diamondsby writer Omar Khan and directed by Shehroze Khan; Woundedwritten and directed by Zaheer Raja; Maskby Aaliyah McKay; 27, written by Anthony Ray Caballero and directed by Judah Meade; and above From man to man. They were funded by a one-time cash grant from Netflix, and Powloski hopes the streamer will “hopefully fund us again in the future,” adding that Netflix has also funded “other projects in part.”
The money was the first unrestricted funding result MYM had received in its 12-year history. Powloski said they receive funding from many sources, but it’s often by being commissioned to make charity films about identity, cyberbullying, knife crime and other topics that help raise awareness. ‘a subject. The downside, as Powloski puts it, is that the movies are “all issue-based,” and she feels “we’re doing them a disservice if they’re the only movies we make. Our charity founders or foundation founders fund films about an issue, so we’re already preparing our young people to say, “It’s an issue, let’s make a film about an issue.” Instead, we should say, “You are young, you are brilliant, what you do you want to make a movie about?
Funding from Netflix allowed MYM filmmakers to write, direct and shoot the films of their choice. Nick Bedu noted that the films were chosen through a pitch process. MYM members “were able to present in front of a panel of producers and filmmakers” to decide which films would be made with Netflix funding.
The panel structure is also used for other MYM films. “The youth team that is in training at all times makes the decisions on which films will be made,” Bedu explained.
Powloski burst out laughing. “There may be a movie that we like the sound of, but unless the youth panel wants to make it, it doesn’t get made,” she said. “Films are chosen – rightly, I think you can say – on an ethical basis.”
All five films are impressive. For example, McKay’s film Maskfeaturing satirist and spoken-word artist Adesayo Talabi, is “I would say comedy, but at the same time quite dramatic,” Mckay said, about “a girl who goes to her workplace in her natural hair for the first time and scares them, or maybe opens them up to their truth. I have no idea!”
Mckay, who has worked as an assistant director on plays at the Chichester Festival Theater in West Sussex, the Theater Royal Stratford East in London’s East End and the Crucible Theater in Sheffield, wrote a monologue titled Mask during confinement. After the article was published in an anthology, Mckay adapted it for the screen and sent it to Powloski to read and offer advice. “It’s my first movie that I’ve written and directed,” Mckay said. “It won’t be my last.”
The films will air on the MYM channel over the next six months. Follow @ukfullyfocused for launch dates.
Here is an excerpt from man to man with Harewood and Adonu: