Warp Films is set to produce a feature adaptation of hit West End musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” the independent British production company has confirmed. It marks the first musical from the Sheffield-based Warp, whose recent productions include Idris Elba’s directorial debut, “Yardie,” which saw its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s horror anthology, “Ghost Stories.”
The musical, which was nominated for five awards at this year’s Olivier Awards, including best new musical, is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, which came to public attention in a BBC documentary, “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16,” in 2011. The coming-of-age tale tells the story of an openly gay teenager, living on a council estate in Sheffield, England, who is nervous about revealing his ambitions to be a drag queen to classmates at school. But with the support of friends and his mother, he overcomes prejudice and bullying to step out of the darkness and into the spotlight.
Developed in conjunction with Film4, the film version of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” will be made by the original creative team behind the stage version. Director Jonathan Butterell will make his feature debut on the project, with writers Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae also aboard. Warp’s joint-CEOs, Mark Herbert and Peter Carlton, are producing.
Herbert told Variety that they first became aware of the Sheffield-set musical when it debuted at Sheffield’s The Crucible theater for a three-week run in February of last year. “Suddenly, everybody was talking about ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,'” Herbert said. “It has an enormous amount of heart and a really positive message. I said to Peter, ‘We’ve got to do this,’ and within two weeks, we had sat down with Jonathan and Dan to discuss it.”
Warp has been working closely with all three key creatives for the past year, prior to its transfer to London, to perfect the adaptation. “A film is a very different structure to a stage production,” Herbert said, pointing to the stage show’s two-act structure as one hurdle. “We’ve been concentrating on getting the script right, to retain the energy and heart.”
Herbert said the film is expected to shoot from late spring of 2019 on location in Sheffield and in studio facilities.
Warp has a strong history supporting debut directors, having worked on the first feature projects of filmmakers including Paul King (“Bunny and the Bull”), Chris Morris (“Four Lions”), Richard Ayoade (“Submarine”), Yann Demange (“’71”), Paddy Considine (“Tyrannosaur”) and, most recently, Elba. The company is arguably best known for its long collaboration with Shane Meadows, including producing Meadow’s 2006 film “This Is England” and its three spinoff TV series. The company is currently working with Meadows on four-part drama “The Virtues” for Channel 4, which is due to air next year.
“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” made its debut at The Crucible in Sheffield in February 2017 before transferring to London’s West End in November. In January it was announced that the West End run at the Apollo Theatre had been extended six months to October 2018, having originally been booked through April.