I was standing in the aisle with a Lucozade bottle in one hand and a large carton of fruit juice in the other having a discussion with my brother about whether we should risk trying to get in the cinema with these drinks. Standing under the much welcome air-con system that was worlds away from the sweltering heat outside, only 2 weeks ago everyone was moaning about not having any sun, and now today, all I could hear was people moaning about the heat. Fortunately for me, all I could think about was cooling off in a small screening room and dive into a film that’s been anticipated in UK’s urban scene for a while.
If I asked a Londoner to name a film which tells a story of inner city life for young people, chances are they’ll name ‘Kidulthood’. That film spoke to an entire generation and also enlightened others to what is normal life for a substantial part of society. One of the key characters, Moony, was played by actor Femi Oyeniran. Femi wears many hats now and he’s evolved into a writer, producer and also the creative director for production company ‘Purple Geko’. With production credits on ‘It’s A Lot’ & ‘Venus vs Mars’, Femi has stepped away from the comedic world to work alongside Nicky ‘Slimting’ Walker and they collaborated together to write ‘The Intent’.
On first hearing about this film, I jumped on IMDb and checked out the credits first and foremost and noticed that the film had been produced by production companies that are owned by the directors and writers. This only heightened my excitement. A film that was produced by the same people that are involved in the creative direction is a welcome sight in the burgeoning urban film scene. I’m not in the filmmaking world but I’m a firm believer of controlling your art, but at the same time, producing a film is not the same as producing music. Yeah, there’s a new breed of DIY filmmakers on the rise creating films using an iPhone as the technology, but making a theatrical production ready for the big screen is different. Controlling the light for a particular scene can involve many things – using different temperature light bulbs, flags and diffusers can manipulate locations to present different moods to the viewer. This is where people can decide to cut corners and it ends up affecting the entire production. Fortunately, Purple Geko have been in the game for a while and have brought their experience into the production of ‘The Intent’.
Whilst I got comfy in my seat in the front row, my aim was to remove any preconceptions I may have had about this film and watch it the way I watch any other film – by studying it vigorously. I’m the type of person that watches films multiple times. After the first initial watch, I’ll then enable the special features on the Blu-Ray disc and watch the film with factual popups and the director’s commentary. I have an urge to understand why the scenes were shot and how they were produced. I’m constantly intrigued by the message in films from one scene to another. How the deviation from the story occurs only to come crashing back to the shock of the viewer when everything is revealed. So whilst watching ‘The Intent’ I found myself picking apart the film, intently listening to the actors’ words, the slang they used and in what context. It may have been because I’m familiar with the people that have produced and directed this film, but I’m paying extra attention because I want it to be the best it can be.
Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. From one of the starting scenes with characters ‘Gunz’ and ‘Hoodz’ sitting in a car, it felt genuine. The dialogue wasn’t overbearing and stacked with buzz words to sound cool, it was realistic. I was also impressed by the visual look of the filming. People think that you can turn on a dslr, put on a 50mm 1.8 and create something that looks great. This is rarely the case and it was immediately evident that Victor from Purple Geko was involved in making sure that things like lens choice and well executed rack focussing was of a high priority. The overall cinematography was kept at a good level. I noticed interesting camera movement and positioning that added the scene. Things like ‘The 180 degree’ rule and transitions between actors during dialogue scenes were handled well.
One thing that stood out to me was the soundtrack. The underground British music scene is filled with life. Quality music is being produced by credible artists and this was weaved throughout the film. Subtle things like having singer Tanika in a scene and her song playing during the transition into the next scene were nice touches. High energy violent scenes and along with the scenes in the club were matched well with songs that added to the atmosphere. I heard some nice production from Rude Kid throughout the film and it definitely gave it a gritty feel. When they release the soundtrack to this film, no doubt it’s going to go off.
‘The Intent’ really brings in a mixture of established actors performing alongside musical artists. At first, I admit I did wonder if the lack of acting skills from the artists would pull away from the film, but, the writers and director used the musicians notoriety in a way that makes you look at them differently. Strong scenes with Krept & Konan, dispelled any assumptions I had about their role in the film. This was also the case with DVS and Fekky. Other appearances from artists included improvisations that matched the character’s we associate through their music and it meant it wasn’t a stretch for them to carry their weight in the scenes.
Although it may be the artists that may bring people to watch this film, it will be the acting from professionals such as Femi Oyeniran, Ashley Chin, Sarah Akokhia, Dylan Duffus and Scorcher that provided the foundation for the film. All strong characters that held their own on the big screen. Each playing their part, from the aggressive hot head to the calm collected thinker. Each character was instrumental and didn’t feel out of place. Whether it was a real moment with Letitia Hector, convincing acting from Shone Romulus or a funny appearance from Nathan Hector. Each scene was carried well.
With Film, as with music, it is subjective. I did notice things in the film that personally I would’ve liked to have seen done differently. Emotional scenes that could’ve shown more distress and drama, the nonchalant use of firearms and a particular piece of clothing that seemed impervious to heat. However, this could be me being pedantic. Fortunately, it wasn’t a distraction from the film nor did it take away from the storyline. After my initial reaction to details that I found a bit odd, something else just jolted me right back to the screen, especially a few scenes that had me saying “rahtid” in the screening room, but that’s good. Shocking reactions to parts of the film will I presume create that desired effect with anyone who watches the film.
There’s so much more to say about this film but I’m writing this review before ‘The Intent’ is actually open to the public. When the film ended and we walked out of the cinema, I immediately had to find some seats and sit down with my brother and friend Nick (Certified UK) to break it down. And that’s the point, I was genuinely intrigued about some scenes in ‘The Intent’ and the motives behind the actions of certain characters. Whilst deep in conversation, we were approached by G Money, played by actor Ashley Chin, who asked us what we though of the film and we in turn, had loads of questions about his experience during the production and his thoughts of how the film will be perceived. Ashley was positive with great things to say about working on this film and touched on how it’s a good representation of what we can produce and something that we could proudly show to international audiences.
So as we walked out into the warm evening air down a less crowded city street, I left feeling good that this film has come to fruition. It’s been in production for a number of years and I’m happy that the public will have the chance to see it on the big screen just as it was meant to be shown.