Director of feature film 'Scarborough' says he "fell in love with the place" during filming

Actors Jessica Barden and Edward Hogg.
Actors Jessica Barden and Edward Hogg.

The director of a film set in and named after Scarborough has described it as a "love letter" to the North Yorkshire coastal town.

Barnaby Southcombe's feature had its UK premiere followed by a Q&A on Friday night at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Jordan Bolger and Jodhi May.

Jordan Bolger and Jodhi May.

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Not to be confused with the BBC comedy of the same name - which coincidentally had its premiere at the same venue the day before and hits televisions screens on Friday - Southcombe's Scarborough is based on a Fiona Evans play and follows two teacher-pupil relationships.

It stars Jodhi May (Gentleman Jack, Netflix’s The Witcher), Jordan Bolger (Peaky Blinders), Edward Hogg (Jupiter Ascending) and Jessica Barden (The Lobster).

Southcombe told our sister title The Yorkshire Post how after taking on Scarborough, he "fell in love with the place itself".

Jodhi May and Jordan Bolger.

Jodhi May and Jordan Bolger.

"We looked at other locations closed to London but there's something so special about Scarborough that can't be replicated anywhere else."

He mentions the town's "vestige of Victorian greatness," adding of the film: "It's a bit of a love letter to Scarborough."

The subject matter itself, though, is somewhat controversial - which Southcombe acknowledges, noting how sexual harassment is a prevalent issue.

But he says the play took a controversial subject and "looked at it through gentle eyes".

"It's people who, rightly or wrongly, fall in love with each other in the wrong context."

Asked whether he is expecting criticism, he said: "When people see it, they will understand that it's really about human frailty. It's certainly not a justification and endorsement of the relationships.

"These are people who get into these situations, they're not monsters."

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Southcombe talks of the support he and his crew had when preparing and shooting the film over two months in 2017.

He said: "Very little had been filmed there, so we were kind of a novelty. Certain places refused to take a fee for letting us film. It's so the polar opposite of London, [where] you point a camera and they go, 'how much?'."

The director, 46, was jocular about the timing of Benidorm creator Derren Litten's BBC series, adding: "It may be the beginning of a renaissance of film and TV in Scarborough."

Indeed television is where Southcombe himself first tasted success in the screen industries - though his connection with the world of entertainment goes way back.

He is the son of esteemed actress Charlotte Rampling, a veteran who has been in the business since the mid-1960s, whose more recent credits include Never Let Me Go, Melancholia, Southcombe's own first film in 2012, I, Anna and ITV's Broadchurch.

The late Bryan Southcombe, an actor from New Zealand known for The Man with Two Heads (1972), was his father.

After studying French and History of Art at University College London, where he became involved in theatre, Southcombe went on to land a directing break in TV drama with cult teen show As If for Channel 4.

He subsequently directed the comedy Teachers in 2004 for the same broadcaster and two years later made episodes for Waterloo Road.

Speaking about his background, he said: "It's a very familiar environment for me. I grew up being around films sets so I've always felt very comfortable. It was not necessarily something I was going to do until I went to university."

He is also planning to shoot a film called Butterfingers, a dark comedy which he says Russell Brand had to drop out of for personal reasons, and that will hopefully shoot in Gibraltar.

Southcombe said: "It's very rarely seen on screen. I'm drawn, obviously, to environments that have and interesting and novel approach on screen."