Punk pops period piece

Meadows' experiences as a skinhead inspires project

Maverick Brit auteur Shane Meadows will draw upon his personal experiences as pre-teen skinhead for his next film, titled “Oi! This Is England.”

Set in the summer of 1983 against the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher’s strife-torn Britain, the movie tells the story of an 11-year-old boy who loses his father, shaves his head and falls in with local neo-Nazi thugs.

Meadows describes the project as “my first period film” and “my most directly political film to date,” focusing on the rise of far-right racism in the early 1980s.

It also highlights the irony that the skinhead movement was originally born out of black reggae music before being hijacked by the National Front. Producer Mark Herbert of Warp Films is in talks with the classic reggae label Trojan for the soundtrack.

As with the previous Meadows pic “Dead Man’s Shoes,” “Oi! This Is England” will be co-financed by FilmFour, U.K. distrib Optimum Releasing and the regional screen agency EM-Media. Several companies are currently bidding to rep worldwide sales.

Story is set in Meadows’ own hometown of Uttoxeter in the English Midlands, with shooting scheduled for late summer.

Budget has yet to be finalized, but is likely to be around $4 million. Revenge drama “Dead Man’s Shoes,” which cost just $1.5 million, has proved a moneyspinner for Optimum at the box office and particularly on DVD, as well as picking up critical kudos.

Meadows’ previous pics include “TwentyFourSeven,” “A Room for Romeo Brass” and “Once Upon a Time In the Midlands.”

Meadows says “Oi! This Is England” is inspired by his own experiences as a young skinhead in the early ’80s, when England was populated by an extraordinary diversity of youth tribes — rockers, New Romantics, mods, punks, casuals, smoothies, ska kids and, of course, skins.

“The pulsating music and the skin-tight fashion, the ‘fuck the state’ attitude and the primal violence left an enormous emotional imprint on me. I believe this period of my life is the reason I became a filmmaker,” Meadows said.

Like his earlier films, it’s also a rough rite-of-passage story about an insecure boy searching for love in all the wrong places.

FilmFour exec Peter Carlton says the movie is “more scripted” than the largely improvised “Dead Man’s Shoes,” though workshops remain an important part of Meadows’ creative process.

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