Now many actors will tell you about their lucky break. For some they were in the right place at the right time, others may have trained for years at acting school while one or two their face just happened to fit.
But for acting newcomer Dylan Duffus, who plays the lead role of Flash in 1 Day the movie, his lucky break was something out of the ordinary. ‘At the time I was the script consultant for the film so I was involved in it from 2006, so I’ve seen the full production of it from the beginning to the end.’
Reflecting on that moment her says: ‘I wasn’t even meant to act in it! That was the wickedest thing. So when Penny (the director) decided to make me the main lead it was a shock. I came to work one day and I just started acting.’
Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Penny Woolcock (Tina Goes Shopping, The Death of Klinghoffer, Mischief Night ) 1 Day is the UK’s first hip hop musical that follows the trials and tribulations of a young guy called Flash who has one day to recoup the funds that had spent from money that was left with him for safekeeping by his ‘friend’ Angel, who to Flash’s surprise gets an early release from prison. Pursued by a rival gang, his three irate babymothers and his granny, can Flash’s day get any worse? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
At a number of points in the movie the actors start impressively spitting lyrics over hip hop and grime beats letting the audience know what they are thinking and feeling. And even Dylan admits that the director got the soundtrack, ‘spot on.’
Shot on the streets of Birmingham the opening scenes overlook the busy Spaghetti Junction, which then cuts to rival gangs separated by area and coloured bandanas, marching to a stand-off which results in a shootout.
1 Day paints a cold but vivid but picture of the gang culture that plagues the city of Birmingham and many others around the UK, but whilst some may say it glamorises the gang culture, Dylan, highlights the director Penny Woolcock’s intentions, and the deeper meaning behind the film.
Penny did her homework, she’s not going to do something and make it fake or false, she’s going to put it there in its rawest form and that’s what she enjoys doing, but there was a hidden message behind it all, but you have to watch it to understand.’
Growing up in and around the Birmingham’s roughest streets Dylan knows he could have easily took a stroll down the wrong path, but managed to steer clear of the drama that has seen many go from promising youth’s with the world as their oyster to government statistics when they end up in jail.
‘I come from Handsworth, Birmingham, and that’s been in the papers a lot due to the gang violence and the crime and what not, so it was real, it was in my face from a young man growing up. It’s something [the crime and gang violence] I’ve seen on a regular basis, but me personally I tried to steer clear of it and that’s how I’ve probably ended up in this in this predicament right now.’
‘I’ve come to realise that the streets will only lead you one of two places, dead or in jail. That’s my experience of the roadside and it’s not something I would like to get caught up in you understand.’
Due to the fact that it’s shot on Birmingham’s roughest streets many have compared the rival gangs in 1 Day to the likes of the Burger Bar Boys and the Johnsons Crew, two of the most notorious crews in Birmingham. However Dylan is quick to point out that wherever Penny would have gone, the outcome would have still been the same.
‘Obviously Penny spoke to different people from different places but you have to understand the crew problem and the gangs is a problem anyway. She could have spoken to anybody from any inner city area and come up with the same conclusion because its real stuff. Nevertheless, the film wasn’t based directly upon any gang; it was just her interpretation of what was going on.’
‘Regardless those are the two biggest crews in Birmingham so people are always going to take that stance, but it’s just 1 Day, it’s fictional.’
Although its fiction, with its original sound track performed by the cast and local talent utilized in front and behind the camera, 1 Day the movie serves as the most accurate portrayal to date of life on the tough inner city streets.
1 Day will be released in cinemas on 6th November 2009
Words by Richard Ashie