Success hasn’t changed Justin Kerrigan. The 26-year-old Welsh director still likes to travel for free.
That used to mean hiding in the toilets to avoid paying his daily train fare to film school. These days it means going everywhere by Lear Jet, courtesy of Miramax Films.
Kerrigan has been caught up in a whirl of acclaim since his low-budget debut pic “Human Traffic” became a surprise U.K. box office hit last summer. Shot straight out of film school in South Wales and produced by his tutor Alan Niblo, the film was hailed as the true voice of the Ecstasy generation and grossed $3.5 million.
It’s a drug-addled one-night cruise through Cardiff’s rave scene in the company of five gonzo characters who were all, according to Niblo, based on Kerrigan himself.
The pic’s acquisition by Miramax for North America, tied to a three-film deal for Kerrigan, has confirmed his status as the latest Brit prodigy. After screening at Sundance, “Human Traffic” will roll out internationally in the next few months.
For Niblo, Kerrigan’s great strengths are the depth and honesty of his writing, and his energy to get films made. The question is how well he will handle the G forces from his skyrocketing trajectory.
“He has gone very quickly from working-class Cardiff roots to five-star hotels,” Niblo says. “There are so many corrupting factors, and it’s very, very easy to lose your identity with all the reviews and the royal treatment.”
But for now at least, Kerrigan isn’t going Hollywood. Having turned down many big-budget offers, his next film, under Harvey Weinstein’s wing, will be another personal piece, made in Britain — given he can find the time amid his whirling publicity schedule to write it.