The Kaje talks ‘FIT’ to Rikki Beadle-Blair

Rikki Beadle- Blair took time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with us about his film FIT. Rikki wrote, directed and performed in the film which is due for release on the 29th November. FIT is a feature film adaptation of Stonewall’s (the gay equality charity, founded in 1989) highly successful play for schools aimed at tackling homophobic bullying.

Tell us about your background?

I was born and raised in South East London, mostly in Bermondsey St. I’m a council estate kid. My mum taught me to read as soon as I could speak and I told everyone I met that I wanted to be a writer. I went to a hippy free school in Bermondsey where I could learn what and when I wanted and my spontaneity was encouraged and flowered.  I put on plays and made films all day every day and I have never stopped.

Where did the idea for the film originate?

When I realised that bullying was so endemic that we don’t even notice it half the time, even when it’s happening to us; I knew I had to write the play and when I saw the impact the play was having, I knew I had to make this film. It’s been consuming me for the past few years and I’m getting in deeper and deeper.

How was the play received around the country?

It was incredible. We met tens of thousands of kids and we watched them go from being suspicious, hostile and, for the most part, massively judgemental and frightened of sexual diversity; to being relaxed and embracing of the play, of us and of debate and difference. Every show was life changing for me, I learned so much.

The meaning behind the title?

Fit means healthy. Fit means attractive, it also means belonging.  Along with all the other meanings, it just seemed right.  I came up with the title before anything else. And it looks great on a t-shirt!

How did you write the screenplay i.e. workshop devised/sitting at the computer/on a train?

I cast first and then I write the characters for the actors. We don’t do any improvising, but their presence and personas inspire me and I write it for them, sometimes building on their skills (football, tap-dancing, etc) sometimes contrasting their appearance or their voices with the character. Giving someone with a tough image a tender speech or vice-versa. The actors are my inspiration.  I can write anywhere.  On a train, sitting on the pavement with my laptop, anywhere, anytime.  And I do.

Are the characters based on people you know?

All the characters are me, in some way – mirror splinters of me, trying to reform a complete reflection.

Having written the screenplay, why did you choose to direct it?

Why wouldn’t I?  It’s my baby!

Did writing, performing and directing raise any issues?

I’ve done it since I was 9 or 10. I’m totally comfortable with stretching my canvas, mixing my colours and painting the picture. It’s all the same thing – making Art.

What are your aspirations for the film?

To entertain. To make people think. To help people see themselves. To help people of every age expand their hearts and minds. To help people understand bullies. To move mountains. To make bigotry history.

When and where is it being released?

It is being released by the mighty Peccadillo Pictures on DVD and VOD on Nov 29.  We are travelling with the film and doing Q&A’s at cool cinemas around the country (and around the world) and schools can still get free copies from Stonewall.org.uk

How do you think the film will be received?

So far so good, I get amazing messages and emails and Facebook stuff every day.  But regardless of whether or not you like the film, I know this – this film loves you.

What is your next project?

Next March my movie ‘KickOff’ – a comedy about a 5-a-side football match between a gay and straight football team comes out. I’ve made three features in a year and several short films – I’m on a bit of roll at the moment. Trailers for all of them can be seen on our teamangelicafilms YouTube channel.

‘FIT’ (Peccadillo Pictures) is out on November 29.

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