Retailored Film Four sets Meadows for first pic

Helmer, Considine devised 'genre-busting' idea

LONDON — The restructured FilmFour has greenlit its first movie, but no one is quite sure what it is, including the filmmakers themselves, even though they started shooting last week.

This much is certain. The $1.5 million untitled pic is directed by Shane Meadows and stars Paddy Considine. It’s produced by Mark Herbert of Warp Films, with co-financing from FilmFour and the East Midlands Media Initiative.

The original treatment, devised by Meadows and Considine, was for a movie titled “The Skull.” It was going to be the story of an ineffectual social worker who cracks up and adopts the persona of a masked superhero, solving by night all the problems he can’t handle by day.

Meadows and Considine promised to flesh out the script via improvisation in the process of shooting. But this has resulted in the story changing so completely that no one involved will say for sure where it’s heading. The film now is simply described as “a genre-busting and distinctly mind-bending tale of vengeance.”

Meadows has always been a filmmaker who has made up his career as he went along from nothing but raw talent. As a teenage street urchin, he shot dozens of improvised shorts with stolen video cameras, featuring his own friends.

His first movie, “Twenty Four Seven,” which made his name at the Venice fest, used many of the same non-pro actors and techniques. His sophomore effort, “A Room for Romeo Brass,” introduced a deranged and incendiary debut turn by the untrained Considine, who has since won acclaim in pics such as “Last Resort,” “24 Hour Party People” and “In America.”

Meadows tried to break out of his arthouse ghetto last year with his more conventional third movie, “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands,” which was financed by the old FilmFour before it was shut down as a stand-alone company and reconstituted as a much smaller department within parent web Channel 4. But the pic fell flat, perhaps inspiring Meadows to return to his wilder roots. It’s testament to the bold ambitions of new FilmFour topper Tessa Ross that she’s willing to support him on this journey.

As Meadows and Considine wrote in their treatment for the latest movie, “We both feel that we have been underused of late and want a chance to really sock it to ’em.” You have been warned.

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