Music, dreams, realities and desires to change the world. Will they?
This is the year when a philosopher with a typewriter and a group of filmmakers with a Bolex camera beckoned a new era. They never knew it but the generation that came after them took full advantage of the ambitions they left behind.
It was in Soho in the 1950s where the seeds of the 1960s were sown. Where the morals and lifestyles that would change the world were first put into practice. On the quiet.
ADRIFT IN SOHO takes an uncompromising look at what really happened in the decade where it all began.
ADRIFT IN SOHO is based on the novel of the same name published in 1961 as a first-hand account of the period. Of course, the author didn't know what was to come: a worldwide social revolution.
Harry Preston (Owen Drake) a young writer from the provinces arrives at a surreal neighbourhood in London inhabited by unconventional characters loitering with intent.
As he dissects and analyses an unusual world that seems divorced from the rest of the city, he becomes Soho's resident philosopher of sorts.
In the pubs, cafes and dark foggy streets of the area Harry meets some of the locals. Among them, is actor James Compton-Street (Chris Wellington) with whom he strikes a friendship.
Through the philosophical eyes of Harry Preston and the camera lens of a Bolex the audience discovers the Soho milieu that changed everything.
The Soho characters do not seem preoccupied by the usual urban concerns. Are they trying to change the world or are they just trying to survive it? Britain was a social time bomb and Soho was the fuse that lit it all up
"The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments. Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim. An attitude means a style. A style an attitude." ~ Free Cinema Manifesto, 1956.
The added ingredients that make ADRIFT IN SOHO such an amazing experience are the powerful visuals captured by newcomer DOP Martin Kobylarz and completed by FRAMESTORE's master grader Steffan Perry who created a 'Colours of Soho' palette especially for the movie.
Framestore is the company that won an Academy Award for the visual effects of Blader Runner 2049 on the same year they worked in the more subtle visual effects of ADRIFT IN SOHO.
The unusual revisit to a Soho of the imagination is completed by composer Anthony Reynolds' music score and some inspiring vintage tracks. Steven Blundell's production design is a gem of period understatement. Probably for the first time ever a movie did not use motor vehicles as an easy solution to period reconstruction. There are none in ADRIFT IN SOHO.
The sound design by Max Behrens and Brendan Feeney completes the picture of a Soho with surreal undertones.
The cinematic style of ADRIFT IN SOHO is based on the Free Cinema documentaries and the Nouvelle Vague films of the late 1950s.
The film re-creates the documentaries 'Nice Time', 'Momma Don't Allow' and the anti-nuclear 'March To Aldermaston' for the first time ever in cinema history. ADRIFT IN SOHO was filmed as a tribute to the 1950s European style of filmmaking by using its ethos, techniques and subject matter.
"The action happens sometime in the past. But this is uncertain. There are deliberately not many standard period clues to hang on to. The viewer has to work it out for him or herself. In the process of discovery of Soho, the film moves from a fiction about a documentary to a documentary about a fiction. What do I mean? You will have to see the movie!" ~ Pablo Behrens, director of ADRIFT IN SOHO.
ADRIFT IN SOHO is based on the novel of the same name written by Colin Wilson and published in 1961, shortly after his more recognised work, the philosophical treatise 'The Outsider'.
Colin Wilson is still influential today as a thinker of the unsual and the unknown. Every two years the Colin Wilson Conference takes place at the University of Nottingham where people attend from all over the world and scholars are invited to present papers. Colin Wilson wrote more than 100 books, among them 'Religion and the Rebel' and 'Ritual in the Dark'.
In the film ADRIFT IN SOHO the narrative follows the experiences and existential analysis of Wilson through the eyes and mind of his alter-ego Harry Preston during his stay in the Soho of 1950s Britain.
"Neighbourhoods sometimes become secret societies where the rules of an inflexible Central Authority are bent and broken to suit the needs. Never like in the 1950s when a rigid conservative society coming out of WWII and at the height of the Cold War eager to control made all sorts of rebels, bums, beatniks, gays, peaceniks, strippers, drunks, artists and bohemians bunch up in Soho - their only refuge at the time. The area was breeding ground for social change everywhere once its inhabitants and regular visitors became the necessary critical mass to force change in the rest of the country and beyond. But the questions asked by the characters then are similar to the questions asked today. So what is going on?" ~ Pablo Behrens, director.
ADRIFT IN SOHO pushes the action into a surreal environment where the period of the novel is condensed in a timeless Soho and Wilson's interest in society and
the role of the individual are presented and discussed with subtle dark humour.
In ADRIFT IN SOHO time does not seem to exist. Events occur, situations take place, people talk but we don't know exaclty why, when and for what. We assume the period is in the past. It's possibly 1959 if we look at the clock. Makes sense. But time doesn't seem to pass or passes very quickly. All we know is that we are definitely in Soho.
Is the story true? Yes. Are the characters true? Yes. It all happened long ago. But it could also be yesterday
Inspired by the stylistic resources of Free Cinema, Nouvelle Vague and Dziga Vertov 'lens-eye' photomontage, the Bolex camera in the film manages to record the last throws of a vanishing world. The story of ADRIFT IN SOHO happens in the mind of the viewer. What we see on the screen are only the clues.
Owen Drake (Harry Preston) and Chris Wellington (James Compton-Street) lead a cast of committed young actors (Caitlin Harris, Lauren Harris, Emily Seale-Jones, Olly Warrington, Angus Howard) and seasoned performers of the British stage (William Chubb, Warwick Evans, William Jessop) and many others. Together they bring London's Soho of the 1950s alive in body and spirit.
ADRIFT IN SOHO - THE MOVIE is directed by Pablo Behrens in a style reminiscent of 1950s films and documentaries, combining a modern letterbox colour screen and a standard 4:3 B&W screen. The film is 1 hour and 49 minutes long; it is presented on a DCP file with Dolby 5.1 Surround.
The script is also written by Pablo Behrens who met Colin Wilson and studied his work. After discovering that Wilson had participated in Free Cinema documentaries himself, elements of the movement were added to the movie version.
ADRIFT IN SOHO - THE MOVIE is produced by Pablo Behrens and Owen Drake. To be released in 2018.