Your Shot: Wavey Garms’ Psychedelic London Gangster Short
The Long Grass is a brilliant, proper British gangster movie with a psychedelic twist. Helmed by BRF director and founder of The Rig Out Glenn Kitson for UK streetwear community and store Wavey Garms, it tells the story of three Londoners on a journey from gritty London to the eerie tranquillity of the Kentish countryside. From the introduction of a chameleon at the film’s beginning to its ominous ending, the trippy unknowingness keeps you on your toes from start to finish.
The film also acts as an alternative lookbook for Wavey Garms, a community that’s become a force to be reckoned with in the UK fashion industry. It’s come a long way from its humble beginnings selling second-hand clothes online to eventually opening up shop in Peckham. LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with director Glenn to find out how a chance meeting and shared interests between him and Wavey Garms founder Andres Branco led to the creation of The Long Grass - and possible future, bigger projects…
LBB> You wrote this with Wavey Garms founder Andres Branco - what was your starting point when developing the narrative? What did you want to represent?
GK> This all came about from a chance meeting between Andres and myself. I was in the Wavey Garms store in Peckham and we got talking. We have lots of mutual friends and knew and admired each other’s work. Andres said he had an idea for a film that he wanted to do. I'll be honest, I thought we would just shoot a lookbook or something. A week later he emailed me a fully formatted script. So I had to back up my part of the agreement!
LBB> Why did the partnership between you and Wavey Garms make sense?
GK> He and his friends are a bit younger than me but we have a lot in common. My thing was always the rave scene, it was a massive part of my life - the music, culture… the rest. And it’s a big part of Andres's life too. They're still at it - I've done my bit but I still fully love the culture. Also, before I made films as a career or had a studio etc., I used to sell vintage gear - Stone Island, adidas, Burberry... That's how I made money and got into doing what would eventually lead me to directing. I had hundreds of deadstock and vintage adidas and Nike trainers; loads of Osti-made Stone Island. That was my thing. And that's exactly what Andres does now.
LBB> Where did The Long Grass theme come from? Obviously, it’s all interlinked with the final shots, but is there any back-story to it?
GK> We wanted a story about betrayal. A grass. When we went to recce the location the word play became obvious.
Grass - it's such an emotive word in that context, isn't it? Proper old school British!
LBB> Why a London gangster movie? Did the story go through any other iterations before landing on this?
GK> We wanted to highlight old and new London, Cockneys and Roadmen. Sephton who plays Tyrell delivered his lines in a modern rudeboy way and Sean who plays Patrick is a good old cockney. The two actors are interesting in their own right - Sephton is a former gang member who now works for the government helping kids break free from gang culture. He is very well respected. Sean is one of the most notorious graffiti artists in the UK. David Leon, who plays Josh, is a director in his own right and has also acted in a lot of film and TV productions.
LBB> It’s got all the fundamentals of a proper London gangster movie, but with some properly trippy vibes to boot. Tell us about that aspect of the film. What’s the inspiration behind it and how did you inject it into the film?
GK> It goes without saying that both Andres and myself are a little erm… psychedelic. That's my shtick, I want to add that wherever I can. That feeling of the day after when you've had little sleep and everything is echoey and weird and oddly saturated.
LBB> A bit part of that vibe comes from the music. Who did you work with on that?
GK> SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL kindly lent us a track, they're a dub collective from Toronto and we worked with Dave Cooke on the score - he really added to the trippy mix.
LBB> Where did the shoot take place?
GK> East London and Kent. Everything you see in the flat sequence was art directed by Andres and myself. It’s all stuff we added, even the neon behind the curtain and Mr Paul the chameleon.
LBB> You shot on 16mm - why so?
GK> We wanted it to have that rich feel you get from film.
LBB> Being for Wavey Garms and acting as a lookbook, the clothes are obviously pretty important! Talk us through your choices…
GK> It's all bits from the Wavey Garms store. WG are the real deal. From a little shop in Peckham they are very, very highly thought of in the world of fashion and streetwear. I love that about London, it’s one of the only cities in the world (apart form NYC or Tokyo) where that can really happen.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
GK> Financing it, as ever! Haha. To be fair, we've had such a lovely response that I am in talks with investors regarding doing a feature. Watch this space…