Fast Girls film hits the big screen
England athletics very own Nicola Evans was in the stands at Crystal Palace as one of the many bodies playing the role as a cheering athletics fan. The soon to be Olympic official wrote about the experience; ‘Fast Girls’ what it’s like to be a film star As the ex-officio “Film Producer” for England Athletics I thought it would be an educational experience to be an extra on the set of Fast Girls – a British film due to release this summer. The press release describes the movie, “When sassy streetwise Shania meets ambitious, middle class Lisa, their two worlds collide on the athletics track as they strive to qualify for a major world athletics champion - ship, they battle adversity and rivalry on their inspirational journey.”
Extras were requested via UKA and since they wanted real athletes and coaches, I asked whether real officials would also be required. My help was accepted! I took on two roles – a crowd extra at Crystal Palace and an official for a weekend at Lee Valley. Fellow official Richard Weston also took part during the Crystal Palace race filming. He commented, “With my vast experience of being a start official I was the ideal choice as marksman for the World Championships, ably assisting the starter who was equally experienced, being a field judge like me.” True to form, as a licensed field judge, I played starter’s assistant, athlete steward (I’m a real professional at leading sprinters out onto the track now, having completed about 20 takes for this short scene), track judge and pit raker (deciding that 10 seconds of training was not enough for this latter role to be undertaken by a “real” extra/ actor!)
My first shot at stardom was joining about 100 others as a crowd extra. My fellow spectators were from all walks of life and had come for a number of reasons – budding actors, BASC supporters, regular extras, athletics fans and those hoping for a glimpse of their favourite star Bradley Walsh (Arthur in TV show Merlin), Lenora Critchlow (Being Human), and Noel Clarke (Mickey in Dr Who). Crystal Palace in ‘mid summer’ – we shivered in our seats, all crammed together at the finish line in temperatures below 5 degrees (presumably camera trickery will imply a full stadium and blazing sunshine) and on command took off all those warm clothes, donned sunglasses and hats and waved the provided flags with gusto at a completely empty stadium. For variety we were swapped around every so often but it was a long 7 hours. Richard had the benefit of watching the athletes actually run there whereas we were only treated to a final scene with the film stars right at the end.
The following weekend it was not a 7am call but two overnight stints. The crowd had been dispensed with and replaced by very lifelike dummies, interspersed with real people for movement. I had however been promoted and was now on the infield. I was joined by a handful of professional extras who would play officials- -most of them had been chosen for their Spanish looks as this was the European Championships in Barcelona. In fact the whole Championship ran with one starter (“I’m a level one and the most I have done is start a bean bag race.”), a starter’s assistant in a black suit, a coach - also in a suit - who played an official, and 5 “ordinary” officials who did everything else on the track and field. Never again will I complain about a lack of officials at a match!
Upon arrival we received a hearty meal, waited in the Crew bus then were sent to put our uniform on. We wore lovely red polyester jackets emblazoned with Espana – but we were not allowed to keep them (unlike Richard who kept his Crystal Palace uniform as a souvenir!). The director quickly realised that he needed some help and there were frequent calls for “Nicola to set” for expert advice. Thanks must go to some of my track and timekeeping colleagues who answered my last minute desperate email plea for officials’ positions and procedures for the 200m, 200m relay and 60m hurdles; I was expected to know all this. At one point while standing behind the 60m hurdles start I thought to myself, “This actually looks quite authentic!” I was finally treated to 5 minutes of filming 2 long jump attempts and by this point the extras were told “just do exactly what Nicola says.”
It was an enlightening experience - and I’m now inspired to qualify in other disciplines. Richard echoed my sentiments; “The athletics aficionado will spot some anomalies, but I hope we corrected those potential errors which we could influence. I didn’t get anything extra for my expertise, but maybe I’ll get an invite to the premiere.”The Plot:
Pacey sports drama, FAST GIRLS will burst out of the blocks and into UK cinemas through STUDIOCANAL on June 15th 2012. The film tracks the rollercoaster journey of a British female sprint relay team and stars a trio of Britain’s hottest young stars: LENORA CRICHLOW (Being Human), LILY JAMES (Clash of the Titans 2) and BRADLEY JAMES (Merlin).
Directed by award-winning young filmmaker REGAN HALL (3 Hours) and produced by DAMIAN JONES (The Iron Lady, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll), FAST GIRLS is co-scripted by NOEL CLARKE (Adulthood, Kidulthood), JAY BASU and ROY WILLIAMS. CLARKE also heads the strong supporting cast line-up of, LORRAINE BURROUGHS (Dr Who), BAFTA nominee PHIL DAVIS (Vera Drake), RUPERT GRAVES (V For Vendetta) and newcomers LASHANA LYNCH, DOMINIQUE TIPPER and HANNAH FRANKSON.
When sassy streetwise Shania (Lenora Crichlow) meets ambitious, middle class Lisa (Lily James), their two worlds collide on the athletics track with explosive results. As the FAST GIRLS strive to qualify for a major world athletics championship, they battle adversity and rivalry on their dramatic, heartwarming and inspirational journey.Follow @londonathletics
|FAST GIRLS Press release.pdf||438.32 KB|