BBC Films and Lorton Entertainment set to Co-Finance Rap Battle Drama VS. featuring Rising British Actor Connor Swindells | The Fan Carpet

BBC Films and Lorton Entertainment set to Co-Finance Rap Battle Drama VS. featuring Rising British Actor Connor Swindells

09 June 2017



BBC Films and Lorton Entertainment are co-financing ‘VS.,’ with up-and-coming British actor Connor Swindells (KEEPERS) set to star in the feature film which is currently in production in London and Essex, England, it was announced today by producer Bennett McGhee of Silvertown Films.

British filmmaker Ed Lilly (THE HIVE) makes his feature film debut on the project, directing from an original screenplay co-penned with Daniel Hayes.

The cast includes Fola Evans-Akingbola (“Game of Thrones,” “Death in Paradise”), Ruth Sheen (Mike Leigh’s ANOTHER YEAR), British battle rapper Adam Rooney aka Shotty Horroh, and Nicholas Pinnock (Sky Atlantic’s “Fortitude”).

BBC Films developed the project with Joe Oppenheimer and Beth Pattinson serving as executive producers alongside Lorton Entertainment’s Julian Bird and Wildgaze Films’ Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey. Jack Tarling (2017 Sundance and Berlin International Film Festival selection GOD’S OWN COUNTRY) is co-producing the drama.

Lorton will distribute the film in the UK and Independent are handling international rights.

VS. is an aspirational drama about a withdrawn foster-teen (Swindells) teetering on the edge of self-destruction, who finds his feet – and his voice - in the exciting world of UK battle rap.

Producer Bennett McGhee said “I'm thrilled to bring this exciting world full of eclectic characters to life. Ed and Dan have created a moving and aspirational drama about the power of words and how words can both devastate and empower. We've assembled an incredible team and couldn't have found better partners in the BBC, Lorton and Wildgaze to support Ed's bold vision for the film.”

Director Ed Lilly added “This is a story close to my heart, set in a world that I’ve been a fan of for many years. I’m beyond excited at the opportunity to bring contemporary UK battle-rap to the big screen for the first time and work with this exciting cast of rising and established talent.”

Writer/director Ed Lilly was included in BBC’s 2017 “New Talent Hotlist” and is a successful short film and music video director. His critically-acclaimed short THE HIVE was nominated for a world Vimeo Award in the “Best Narrative” category, whilst his other shorts have picked up Virgin Media Shorts and BAFTA ’60 seconds of fame’ nominations.

Connor Swindells recently wrapped production on the thriller KEEPERS opposite Gerard Butler and Peter Mullan, directed by Danish helmer Kristoffer Nyholm (“The Killing”). On the small screen, he has appeared on ITV’s “Harlots” and Sky’s “Jamestown.”

Following her training at the Identity School of Acting Fola began her career with a role in BBC’s Holby City in 2015. She worked again with the BBC in 2016 when she starred as Rosie Fabrice, a new semi-regular role, in Death In Paradise. Last year Fola appeared in Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones alongside other projects such as feature film An American Exorcism (Parkside Films) and Dawn, a U.S. pilot for HULU/MGM. In 2016 Fola made her stage debut in School Play at The Southwark Playhouse. 2017 will see Fola star as leading role Maddie Bishop in new U.S. series The Deep (Freeform/Disney).

Ruth Sheen has appeared in several critically acclaimed films and television series HIGH HOPES, for which she won the Best Actress at the European Film Awards and ANOTHER YEAR, for which she was nominated Best Actress at the British Independent Film Awards, the London Critics Circle Film Awards and the Evening Standard Film Awards. Both films were directed by Mike Leigh. Other work for Mike Leigh include MR.TURNER, VERA DRAKE, ALL OR NOTHING. Recent film credits include A STREET CAT NAMED BOB, A ROYAL NIGHT OUT, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH, RUN, FATBOY, RUN. Recent television credits include PRIME SUSPECT 1973, the first series of UNFORGOTTEN, INSIDE NO 9, THE MIMIC.

Adam Rooney aka Shotty Horroh is an internationally acclaimed UK battle rapper who made his debut in the rap battle world in 2011 as part of Don’t Flop League and is considered one of the most talented battle rappers of his generation. His battle against Arsonal for Don’t Flop’s 4th Birthday hit 10 million views this year on YouTube. He has recorded with superstars like Deadmaus and performed at some of the biggest rap battle events around the world most notably Blackout 5 in Canada which was co promoted by Drake and King of the Dot.

Nicholas Pinnock is best known for his portrayal of Frank Sutter in Sky Atlantic’s original series “Fortitude” and the role of Jason Backland in ITV's critically acclaimed, “Marcella.” Pinnock’s feature film credits include CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, THE KEEPING ROOM and MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT. He will also be seen in Starz’ upcoming Original Series, “Counterpart” co-starring JK Simmons. Pinnock’s TV credits include, “Barbarians Rising” and TV mini- series “Guerrilla” which also stars Idris Elba, Babou Ceesay, Rory Kinnear and Freida Pinto.

Connor Swindells is repped by Hamilton Hodell. Fola Evans-Akingbola is repped by Identity Agency Group and WME. Ruth Sheen is repped by CDA. Shotty Horroh is repped by Tempo Music Management and GB Management. Nicholas Pinnock is repped by Natalie Day, Independent Talent Group.

BBC Films is at the forefront of independent filmmaking in the UK, developing and co-producing around twelve films a year. In 2015 BBC Films was awarded the Michael Balcon BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. Joe Oppenheimer is Acting Head for BBC Films.

Recent and current releases include Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest starring Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin, William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth starring rising star Florence Pugh, Sean Foley’s Mindhorn co-written by and starring Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling, Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House starring Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson and Steve Cantor’s documentary Dancer.

Their latest award-winning and nominated films include Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, which won the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film and was the winner of the 2016 Cannes Palme d’Or, Mick Jackson’s Denial, BAFTA Award nominee for Outstanding British Film and Florence Foster Jenkins starring Oscar and BAFTA Award nominee Meryl Streep and BAFTA Award nominee Hugh Grant.

Upcoming films include Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Abdul to be released via Universal Pictures in September and Andy Serkis’ directorial debut, Breathe starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, via STX in October. Currently in production is Yardie, Idris Elba’s directorial debut and Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the iconic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy recently wrapped its shoot.

BBC Films’ eclectic back catalogue includes Brooklyn, The Lady in the Van, Mr Holmes, Far from the Madding Crowd, Pride, Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, My Week with Marilyn, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Jane Eyre, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Made in Dagenham, An Education, In the Loop, Fish Tank, My Summer of Love, Truly Madly Deeply, and Billy Elliot.

Twitter @BBCFilms

London-based Lorton Entertainment is a Financing, Production and Distribution entity founded by Julian Bird and a consortium of private financiers in 2014. Working in conjunction with companies and individuals in the film and television sectors, we use our unique blend of industry knowledge, access to diverse capital sources and exceptional execution capabilities to bring great ideas to the big and small screen. Key to Lorton’s investment philosophy is to source and finance the finest commercial ‘studio’ level projects in an aggressively priced fashion. Films to date include, Supersonic (Mat Whitecross), Maradona (Asif Kapadia), On The Road (Michael Winterbottom), The Escape (Dominic Savage) and Adult Lifeskills (Rachel Tunnard). In 2017 Lorton will be financing between eight and ten projects and distributing up to five.

Silvertown Films is an independent production company set-up by Bennett McGhee in 2015. Silvertown produced the feature documentary BO66Y, directed by Ron Scalpello, which charts the life and times of the sporting and cultural icon, Bobby Moore. The film had its world premiere last summer at Wembley Stadium and was released theatrically in the UK by Entertainment One.

Before setting up Silvertown Films in 2015, Bennett was an executive at Wildgaze Films where he worked on a number of film projects including the multi Oscar (including Best Picture) and BAFTA nominated, AN EDUCATION, starring Carey Mulligan in her breakout role, adapted by Nick Hornby and directed by Lone Sherfig; A LONG WAY DOWN, adapted by Jack Thorne from the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, directed by Pascal Chaumeil starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots; Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut QUARTET, from a script by Oscar-winner Ronald Harwood starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon; and most recently, as Associate Producer, on the Nick Hornby adaptation of Colm Toibin’s award-winning novel BROOKLYN, directed by John Crowley (Boy A, Intermission) and starring Saoirse Ronan. BROOKLYN was nominated for 6 BAFTAs, winning Best British Film, and 3 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

With Black Bear Pictures and Wildgaze Films, Silvertown is also producing an original political thriller from screenwriter Matthew Orton.

Silvertown Films was a recipient of the BFI’s 2016 Vision Award.

Wildgaze Films is one of the UK's leading independent film production companies, with a track record of producing high quality films with internationally renowned talents, both in front of and behind the camera. It is a small company with a dedicated and passionate team, headed up by double Oscar® nominated and BAFTA award winning producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey (for Brooklyn and An Education).

Wildgaze is currently in post-production on Our Souls At Night, a film for Netflix starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, directed by Ritesh Batra and produced with Redford's Wildwood Productions.

Wildgaze Films’ most recent release is Their Finest, reuniting Finola and Amanda with director Lone Scherfig, and co-produced with Number 9 Films. The film premiered at TIFF in September 2016, followed by the Mayor of London’s Gala Screening at the London Film Festival 2016 and Sundance 2017. Set in the early 1940s, Their Finest was released in Spring 2017 by STX in the US and Lionsgate in the UK, to brilliant reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. It is adapted for the screen by Gaby Chiappe from Lissa Evan’s novel ‘Their Finest Hour & A Half’ and features a stellar cast that is led by Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin.

Their previous film Brooklyn was released in 2015, and was a critical and box office success, taking $63m worldwide. It was nominated for three Oscars® (Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay) and six BAFTAs, winning the Outstanding British Film BAFTA. Based on Colm Toibin’s award-winning novel, adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby and directed by John Crowley, the film stars Saoirse Ronan with Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.

Wildgaze’s feature documentary My Nazi Legacy (known as What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy in the US) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April 2015 to outstanding reviews. Written by and featuring international human rights lawyer Philippe Sands and directed by David Evans, it was released by Altitude in the UK and Oscilloscope in the US in November 2015.

Among their other recent producing credits are An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig, adapted by Nick Hornby, and starring Carey Mulligan in her breakout role, which was nominated for 3 Academy Awards (including Best Film), 9 BAFTAs (including Best Film and Best British Film, winning Best Actress), and winner of Best Foreign Film at the Independent Spirit Awards; A Long Way Down based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, adapted by Jack Thorne, directed by Pascal Chaumeil and starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul & Imogen Poots; and Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet, written by Ronald Harwood, starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connelly & Pauline Collins. Quartet was produced by Finola under her Finola Dwyer Productions Ltd banner.

Earlier personal producing highlights for Finola include Backbeat (1994), Me Without You (2001) and Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006), and for Amanda, Fever Pitch (1997) starring Colin Firth, and the US remake (2005) starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon

In 2013, Wildgaze were among the select few companies to be awarded the first BFI Vision Award, giving the company creative autonomy to acquire and develop projects.

Wildgaze have a number of film and television projects in development, including a further co-production with Bennett McGhee / Silvertown Films, Reason of State (written by Matt Orton).

Independent specializes in the development, financing, production and distribution of independent feature films. Led by CEO Luc Roeg, Independent has a team of highly motivated and experienced professionals with expertise in project development, production, structured finance, distribution, sales and marketing.

Independent’s production credits include: Carol Morley’s THE FALLING. John Banville’s Booker Prize winning novel THE SEA, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Tolstoy adaptation BOXING DAY which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. In 2011 Independent produced the critically acclaimed adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, directed by Lynne Ramsay, which premiered in competition in Cannes.

Independent also acquires third party rights to manage through its sales division. Latest titles include Jim Jarmusch's documentary GIMME DANGER about Iggy Pop and the Stooges, upcoming drama THE ESCAPE, starring Gemma Arterton and Dominic Cooper, powerful boxing drama JAWBONE directed by Thomas Napper, and the ultimate documentary on Oasis, SUPERSONIC, directed by Mat Whitecross, as well as Michael Winterbottom's ON THE ROAD.

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