Brighton film-maker offers "one of the most exciting British thrillers in years"

After six years of development for his debut film Concrete Plans, 2020 was hardly the year Brighton-born and based film-maker Will Jewell had been hoping for.

Goran Bogdan & Steve Speirs
Goran Bogdan & Steve Speirs

The latest lockdown robbed him of the chance of the ten-day cinema run he’d been looking forward to.

Instead, the film is going straight to video on demand via the usual platforms including Amazon, iTunes, Googleplay, Sky Store and X Box – on the back of a successful premiere at the thriller genre film festival FrightFest.

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Will is hoping the film might make it into some independent cinemas in February if restrictions have lifted by then.

He admits that even with 100 per cent capacity it is still difficult to make money in cinemas given the costs of advertising at one end to get people in at the other, but it is still a disappointment.

But there is still plenty of hope: “After the FrightFest screening it was described as one of the most exciting British thrillers in years, and the reviews were glowing. You hope that it is good but you are so close to it that it is great when you hear people say that kind of thing.

“But really you just want people to see it, and that is hard to gauge when it is going out on the digital platforms but with social media you can gauge things to an extent, and it is lovely when you get total strangers taking to Twitter to say that they liked it.

“Six years in the making, the film is a labour of love and has taken a lot of hard work and determination to get it from an idea scribbled in a notepad to where it is today.”

Concrete Plans is a thriller set in contemporary Britain.

Written and directed by Will, it boasts a cast including Amber Rose Revah, Charlie Palmer Rothwell, James Lance, Steve Spiers and Kevin Guthrie. Will promises visceral snapshot of the United Kingdom – tense, divided and balanced on a knife-edge, touching on issues such as migrant labour, class tension, tax evasion and toxic masculinity all woven into a taut neo-Western thriller that grips and twists towards a devastating climax.

High in the remote Welsh mountains, five builders are housed in a mouldy portacabin, thrown together to renovate a sprawling old farmhouse. Tensions soon simmer between the men and the home-owner, as well as amongst the men themselves. Bob, the kindly foreman, attempts to keep the peace as the bigoted Jim becomes a malign influence, taking a dislike to Ukranian labourer Viktor and slowly poisoning Bob’s own nephew against him. As the weather closes in and payments are late, tempers fray. Blood is spilled, and the blue-collar men are confronted with an increasingly dark spiral of moral choices.

“It was an idea between myself and Rob Alexander who was also Brighton-based. We were discussing ideas, Brighton being quite a film hub. We were wanting a cheap-to-make feature film. I had an idea and took that idea and grew it. About six and a half years ago, I spoke to Rob and we had the idea about builders half-way up a mountain, and we took it from there.

“We went to Film Wales and they supported it. They put some money into the development and we developed the script and we did some location recces.”

They found just the right place: “And there was a half-built barn in the grounds so we could pretty much live there. We attracted other bits of money and gradually over that period we managed to get together the finances. Fortunately the script seemed to resonate with people.

“We got some pretty big actors and they were prepared to work for the minimum wage for actors because they loved the script. We filmed it just outside Brecon in 15 days which was utterly insane. Usually you would film over 25-30 days, but we had issues with the funding. But it does concentrate the mind!

“After five years of precision-honing the script, I was having to decide which scenes to drop every day. The schedule was unrealistic. And I was obviously having to make sure that it still all kept clinging together. And I am pleased that it did.”