Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: provided/Robert Timothy
It was the talk of the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival when it debuted there this spring - and now, dramatically intense gay rugby film In From the Side is getting a wider release in UK cinemas.
Ahead of its release on 16 September 2022, Attitude asked director Matt Carter to share some of his favourite visuals from the movie; a tale of infidelity that reverberates through an entire South London gay rugby team.
Here, in a mixture of moody film stills and candid behind-the-scenes shots, Matt reveals all about the "challenging" but "exciting" film shoot, while highlighting "the unique value that inclusive sports can bring in providing that sense of belonging to gay men."
"The fairground sequence was awesome to shoot. The location and practical lights from the rides and stalls made it a real visual feast, a perfect backdrop to show the blossoming feelings between Mark and Warren, the two main characters of the film."
"I wanted the film to have a grounded sense place with London as its location, and nothing is more London than being crammed together in an Underground train carriage. It puts the two characters in an almost intimate close space without being too claustrophobic."
"The characters refer a lot to 'family' and it's really the core of what the film is about. You put this large group of men together from very different walks of life, and much like a real family, not everyone gets along. It was really exciting to explore this complex dynamic."
"We were so lucky with our cast that so many had existing rugby experience or were able to be brought up to speed with a few training sessions prior to filming. We had a boot camp to refresh everyone's skills so everyone could be confident portraying the sport faithfully on screen. We also had a lot of real rugby players as extras from many of the clubs I've spent time with over the years, so there was always lots of convincing rugby happening in front of the camera."
"It was a joy but also a challenge carrying out all of the cinematography and camerawork for the film. As I have a long background in photography, it really gave me the chance to express visually exactly what I had in mind to tell the story. Despite destroying my back, I would often go handheld to get the exact shots and coverage I needed. This made it very personal."
"A number of sequences take place on winter evenings on rugby training pitched under the flood lights. It was really great for helping set the mood and tone for the film. Although the film is set in South London, most of the rugby club locations we used were filmed in North London, particularly at Finchley RFC for the night training scenes."
"We also used Finchley RFC for the main interior changing room scenes. It became somewhat of a second home for us on the shoot."
"The cast and crew really became like a real rugby team and family by the end of the shoot. We'd all been through the ringer together with cold and wet shoot days, but the camaraderie was absolutely amazing."
"Will Hearle and Alexander Lincoln [as 'Mark' and 'Henry', respectively] were such fun to work with, they are both such sensational actors. Their storyline was also fascinating and something we can all relate to as gay men. I'm sure we've all had a best friend who we secretly have the hots for who perhaps doesn't reciprocate the feeling."
"The team spirit on set was so intense that filming the scenes of celebration felt really authentic. It was so exciting to portray and bring to the screen a healthy and non-toxic form of masculine expression and male bonding."
"The film explores a lot of deep themes relating to 'belonging'. Equally the unique value that inclusive sports can bring in providing that sense of belonging to gay men."
"There are a number of nightclub scenes in the film which presented a challenge, as we were always short on the number of available extras, as is often the way on any independent film. We had to be very economical in filling the frame and building the illusion of a packed room.
"In this scene we were filming in XXL during the day before the club opened. We had the lighting engineer re-create the same lighting setup he would later use when the club would be opened and we 'faked' the room being full with extras, all dancing in silence. This allowed us to record clean dialogue from the actors without background noise or music. We then came back in the evening when the club was open and full to shoot the wider shots. Everything cut together seamlessly."
In From the Side is coming to UK cinemas on 16 September.
The Attitude September/October issue is out now.