Today: February 20, 2024

Director And Cast

Picked for the London Film Festival and encompassing a cast of up-and-coming British talent, Sket is British director Nirpal Bhoga’s debut feature length film, which delves in to the world of female gang culture in London.

Picked for the London
Film Festival and encompassing a cast of up-and-coming British talent, Sket is British
director Nirpal Bhoga’s debut feature length film, which delves in to the world of female gang culture in
London.

With Sket out on DVD on Monday 5th March Features Editor Heidi
Vella caught up with Bhogal and two of the cast – Emma Hartley-Miller, who plays gang leader Danielle, and Varada Sethu, who plays one of the
members in her first ever acting role – to talk about the issue of female gang
violence and the fun they had filming the kick-ass fight scenes.

Why did you want to
tell this story in particular?

Nirpal Bhogal:
Originally I was approached to tell the story in a very different way, in more
of an action/thriller context, but as I spent more time with the producers and
we discussed what we could really do with something of this subject matter, we
decided to actually make it something with more social relevance; something
that could really help and inform the audience about real issues that are
happening today.

Were you aware of this
type of culture happening on the streets of London?

Emma Hartley-Miller:
I’m from Scotland so it’s not something I was aware of. I lived in Manchester
and they had gangs, but it is really a different type of thing. Obviously, it
is something I was sort of aware of but I think it is something that has
national awareness in general, but I didn’t know a lot of in-depth knowledge about
the culture and what was behind it. It wasn’t something I have personally
experienced.

What kind of research
did you do to prepare for your roles?

Verada Sethu: I
don’t think we needed preparation in that sense – we obviously had lots of
people on the set who could help us get the little things, like the dialect, all
the little finishing touches right. In terms of research I don’t think we
needed to go into it too much as it was all written in the roles.

Bhogal: As a
director I wanted to choose actors that had a kind of primal instinct for the
characters they were portraying, so I didn’t want them to necessarily do loads
of research on gang culture because then they might become a bit superficial to
them. An actor going into a gang world isn’t the same as them actually being
there. I can’t have Emma walk into a group of people and actually start to deal
drugs and do things in a proper way because it would be so superficial; so they
liaised with people who knew what they were doing, then I directed the actors
from there.

Hartley-Miller: I
think when you have a script that is well informed, and because the script is
written well and by a lot of people who had been in that world. The script is
extremely well informed and it is up to us to make that as real as possible.
Obviously, I did Google the subject and it’s incredible what you kind find on
You Tube. You just have to put yourself in that situation basically, it’s a
human emotion.

You highlight this
brutal gang culture, but did you want your audience to feel for the girls
despite what they do?

Bhogal: The whole
point for me was to make them [the audience] feel compassion. Talking to
Jennifer [charity worker] it became more apparent to me that it could be
anyone, that it is very normal people who can be led down this path in life,
which is why I chose a middle class white girl at the beginning of it to show
that it could happen to anyone, it helped that she was a Geordie, as well. So
the compassion was the main point – that was the feeling I wanted to portray.

Hartley-Miller:
My feeling was we had these ideas of gang culture, these media flash images, but
at the end of the day they’re human beings and it was trying to show what they
were like as human beings. So I looked at who they were first and what happened
when they were put in that situation. It could happen to anyone, it doesn’t
matter where you’re born, bad things can happen to you. I want people to see
that they are people, see them as equals.

Bhogal: An actor
playing an alcoholic won’t just play them as an alcoholic they will play them
as an alcoholic whose obstacle in life is alcohol. Why they played the girls so
brilliantly is they played them as
normal human beings who fell into gangs and this brutal world.

How was it filming
the fight scenes?

Harey-Miller: I loved
it! Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a bit of a good rummage?

Sethu: It was so much fun, it was
really fun, we had a stunt chorographer come in who told us the basics and it
was really fun. It almost gave you an insight into the adrenaline of what they
do. I think physically just doing
that allowed us to understand the release they experience.

Hartley-Miller: You feel powerful having those people
behind you, it is a real adrenaline rush. You feel like you can do anything as
it’s not just you. It was really helpful in terms of understanding these characters.

Bhogal: It was
quite interesting to direct. I
kind of agonised over it because I took a kind of naturalistic approach to how
we all worked, so for those things it had to be really real, really pounding
and they got into it and it showed them how powerful and addictive violence can
be because you do, for that moment, feel really in control.

Were there any other
challenges while filming?

Bhogal: Minus
five degrees in normal clothing, it was ridiculously cold and the challenges
were listening to them complain how cold it was.

Hartley-Miller: I
didn’t complain.

Bhogal: I felt
really bad watching them literally shiver.

Hartley Miller:
For me it was emotionally quite draining and you’re tired and cold and it’s
very difficult to switch off from that. I really wanted to make it realistic so
that was a challenge for me, the pressure to make it as realistic as possible.

Well done on your
London accent by the way:

Hartley-Miller:
Thank you!

Sethu: She had
the accent for the entire time!

Bhogal: I haven’t
understood a single word she’s said since she’s been here talking in her normal
accent.

Finally, Bhogal how
was it completing your first debut feature?

It was great, what I expected and I’m very proud of the end
result – it was a great experience.

Sket is out on Blu-Ray and DVD on Monday 5th of March.

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