In the wake of today’s lockdown culture, so many people are coming up with new and inventive ways to connect online. Netflix started the trend with their watch party, which allows a group of people to watch collectively whilst chatting live on the side. MASSIVE’s Cinema Shutdown is something a little like that – you stream the movie (available on various platforms including amazon prime) and then you watch with some of Britain’s favourite talents on Instagram Live. To celebrate its home entertainment release, they started with Blue Story which was hosted by Bruce, and we had the pleasure of getting some one-on-one time with some of the cast members.
The film commenced at around 8:15, not too long after the advertised time, but before that Stephen Odubola who plays one of the main protagonists (Timmy) blessed us with some insight into how he originally got the role as well as his take on a few of the scenes.
During his audition, they told Stephen initially that his acting was too ‘hood’ – whilst he did eventually portray a roadman, his character doesn’t begin like that, so he needed to show the scope of his skills. Subsequent to a few pointers from the team, he did a few impromptu scenes that they had given him on the day ending with a chemistry test with Michael Ward, which was what gave him the inkling that he might have actually gotten the part. He also mentioned his future plans, though everything has come to a halt right now, he hopes to go across the pond to America and take his career further over there.
The next guest was Junior Afolabi Salokun who played Madder. His disposition was such a contrast to the dark and angry character he played, and unlike Stephen, he had been in a few productions prior to this, however this was his biggest film. Bruce asked him what he preferred, whether it was television or film or even theatre, to which he replied he needs to explore all of the mediums more before he can decide which one is his favourite.
After some technical difficulties, Karla-Simone Spence (played the character Leah) came on just in time to talk about the sex scene with her and Stephen that was unfolding on screen. She happily informed us that it wasn’t as awkward as it looked; they were given an intimacy coach who helped them choreograph their moves so to speak, ensuring that they both knew what would happen and what would happen next. She also mentioned that it was a closed set, but she was definitely brave as they filmed that scene on her first day of filming. Luckily for her, she had already met Stephen on an introduction date at Kreps and Cones set up by Rapman. Bruce asked her how much of Leah she could identify with, and although she said she was a lot like her, she didn’t have the same confidence at 17 to try and break up a fight between two boys or reject a guy they way Leah and her friend did earlier on in the movie.
Following Karla was Eric Kofi-Abrefa, who played Switcher, Marco’s brother. One of the more experienced actors, he’d been in a few series and American films previously, but this was one of his most notable roles. He did mention the scene where his character’s gang gets ambushed by their rivals at the beginning of the movie as one of his most memorable, and it even took a minute to break character when they stopped rolling. He also mentioned the first scene he shot, which was in the hospital where his character learns he won’t ever be able to walk again as it set the tone for his character development.
One thing mentioned by Khali Best (played the character Killy) and other actors was how encouraging Rapman was for his actors to really get under the skin of their characters and improvise, which is what lead to the production being so emotive. Although Khali and Rapman were friends prior to the movie, he still had to audition and go through the professional channels; everyone wanted to do their due diligence to make sure that it was the best it could be. Despite there being no industry pressure, everyone felt personally invested and that atmosphere was palpable on set.
To close, some would say Bruce saved the best for last, particularly as people (mostly girls and his fan page) had been clamouring to see Michael Ward (played the protagonist Marco) before the movie even began. Michael’s introduction to the film was different to most, as it was during the filming of Top Boy that he met Rapman, around Christmas. It was very beneficial for him, as having done Top Boy so recently meant that he felt less pressure, enabling him to be organic with the character Marco and take a few risks, which definitely paid off. While the house party scene was the crowd favourite, Michael also mentioned the initial scene where the boys were playing football as one of his favourites. It really set the dynamic not just for Timmy and Marco, but also their friendship group, which was developed further in the bus scene where Kadeem Ramsay’s character Hakeem freestyles. That was another off the cuff improv that helped to add to the authentic feel of the movie as well as the organic unfolding of events.
All in all, it was a new way to watch the movie – people coming in to give their take on their character and certain scenes really made you feel like it was a unique experience. Not only could you suggest questions for your favourite actors, but it was also an opportunity to check in with the cast and see what they’re up to next. I for one, will be looking forward to the next screening.