We Spoke To The Cast Of "Pirates" About How The Film Is Bringing Something New To British Film
"The UK hasn't had a movie like this, not with a cast that looks like us and with a director that looks like the director does"
Pirates is a story that has been overlooked by British cinema for a while. A story that showcases London boys of colour just being happy. No gangs, no hard drug culture – just friendship and playfulness.
We sit down with Reda Elazouar, Elliot Edusah, and Jordan Peters to discuss all of their feature film debut, the impact it has on the community, and what motivates them to keep going.
Firstly, I want to say congratulations on the film, I think it's so fantastic. I can’t wait to take my sisters to see it because it's so wholesome! How do you all feel about your feature debut?
Reda: It feels great man, it’s been a long time coming. It's been nearly two years we’ve been involved in this, so it feels mad. I can’t wait for people to see it, for people to find little bits they relate to, and find the lines that they like.
Elliot: Yeah after COVID and being on lockdown for so long, I think what people need at the end of this year is a laugh. It's a feel-good film and you’ll leave wanting to go to a party. This New Year's we can actually celebrate.
Reda: HARD! We’ll celebrate hard.
Jordan: I was so excited. It’s the first feature film for all of us. I’m so excited that I don’t think I’ve actually processed it. It’s been a really fun journey and a fun experience, 100%.
When production closed because of lockdown, were you on the edge of your seat? How did you guys feel?
Reda: Edge of our seat? We were off our chairs! The chair was on my head.
Elliot: It was a mixture of emotions. It was great because we filmed such great scenes and got so much great stuff done, but at the same time, we had just got into our flow. When you're filming the first week is always the toughest, because it's like, "okay, who is everybody?" I'm learning everybody's names and I’m getting familiar with my cast, I’m getting familiar with my costume, getting familiar with the character and the way Reggie wants things, the direction. I was very scared. Reggie just made us feel comfortable the whole time, we had a group chat room having banter, sending each other gifs and memes. So I don't know how you boys felt but I was on edge and then I kind of felt better.
Jordan: How did I feel? At first, I thought it was going to be three weeks, but seven months later... [shrugs] Yes, it was quite scary because we all wanted to finish the film and it was the first time we were leading a film. So it kind of felt like the opportunity was going to be taken away from us.
Reda: Reggie has now said a couple of times that he was worried this film would never be done but he never said that to us, he never showed us that worry. But by the third week, we were all, “what if this doesn’t come back?” We invested so much in it and all of that kind of stuff, and it's a really important story. It was mad, we were literally thinking every day like, when is it coming? It took seven months, but when it came back, it was an amazing day.
It seems like you created such a family and the time off helped that. You can see that the bond in the film is very natural and it must be the same with Reggie. So what was it like working with Reggie? This is the first feature for all of you, so how was it under his guidance?
Elliot: I think Reggie was collaborative from the jump. From the time we were doing rehearsals, read-throughs, the script was always a work in progress. There were always new renditions of the script, just from us improvising in rehearsal and being like “wouldn’t this be funny?” I think that's what made us feel so comfortable around each other and take risks. We didn't feel like, "oh, if I say this and it doesn't pop off Reggie’s going to be offended." He was always accepting what we said.
Reda: Yeah 100%, I've said it before about the way Reggie knows how to handle a set and stuff. And this being the first feature film that he's directed and written at the same time, it doesn't feel like it – it feels like he's that many many times before. It was really nice. None of us were scared of failing, we took many risks on that set.
Jordan: The environment and energy Reggie brought to the set allowed us to take those risks and allowed us the crew as well to take risks as well. And it's just such a collaborative process. It was amazing.
How did you guys prepare for the role? I think it's such a lived experience and garage music has a huge presence. Was there anything in particular that you were watching or reading?
Reda: For me, I didn’t know anything about garage, I don't know anything. I took a lot of cues from Elliot, who knew way more about garage than I did. So for me, it was just about the first thing I did in the audition process was create a garage playlist. So all of the songs in the movie were in chronological order, I was listening to them and learning about them. Wikipedia was my friend.
Reggie took us away for a couple of days and we went outside of London and went to Suffolk and we got to speak to Lonyo, who wrote “Summer of love”, D.J. Spoony as well. And they were telling us “Yo this is what garage meant to me, meant to us, meant to the scene and meant it to the people”. So we all took that and implemented it in our characters.
Elliot: Can't forget Sun, Sea and UKG.
Reda: Oh my god, shoutout to whoever made that.
Elliot: Yeah it’s a great documentary. For us, what was important was understanding the party scene and exactly what garage music had done for the culture around the world, not just in London, because a lot of what was happening in the garage scene was happening in Ibiza and the party islands. You can’t just type in garage dance moves in Google find it. You have to see the real-life footage, that uncut material.
Jordan: YouTube was my friend, 100%. Just seeing what the vibe was like in the club. But also, I looked at a documentary about pirate radio and how pirate radio started off. And in the nineties, what they had to do in the estates, in the blocks. They had to go up there with the aerial just to get the right frequency. Then the police can come in and lock off the whole thing and take everyone's equipment. It was a risky business.
The film is so great for representation, just showing happy, young London boys. Yes, there are hardships, but the focus is happiness. How do you guys feel about the representation that you're putting out for the younger generations?
Jordan: That is so important, especially for the younger generations to see a movie like this. Showing that feel-good factor in friendships, and like you said, even though there are hardships – as there are with every friendship – but it's how we get past that and the love for the boys. I think it's so important to see that on the big screen, especially in today's world now.
Reda: The UK hasn't had a movie like this, not with a cast that looks like us, and with a director that looks like the director does. It's a happy feel-good movie. When you watch the movie, you want to go and party. It’s just nice to see happiness, joy, friendships, brotherhood in London. It's a nice movie and I think people will appreciate it.
Elliot: I think the reason why it's really important as well is the Cappo’s and the Kidda’s and the Two Tonne’s of this world are the kids too often get forgotten because they might not be risky and daring and into bad things and "cool" things. They represent a lot of young people in London, like 60% of young people are like the boys in the film. I think it's important that we put them on-screen and start normalising seeing three boys from London kind of nerdy, kind of geeky, they all love each other, and they think they're cool, but they're not.
And lastly, again it's your first feature, which is a big step for all of you. What advice do you have for other young actors making their next moves?
Elliot: It's a marathon, not a sprint. So don't be too hard on yourself, but also don't be afraid of change. Don't be afraid of changing and developing. Don't be afraid of not knowing who you are or what you want at the time, just be patient with yourself and be patient with the process, and trust in the long term things will work out. It might not happen overnight, but it will eventually happen if you keep focused and on that path.
Jordan: Yeah, just love what you do. You’ve got to be passionate.
Reda: I get rejected 100 times a year. I've booked Pirates, but I haven't booked a lot of jobs. I've seen a lot of things and I’m like I’ll audition for that but you will lose out on jobs more than you book. That’s normal and it’s part and parcel with the job. We’ve all said this a couple of times but be nice to people man, do not be a prick.