John Boyega (Attack The Block, Da Brick) starred in a BBC3 docu-drama production based on the on the 2008 murder of teenager Shakilus Townsend titled My Murder.
And now, an independent film production based on that real-life story is in development, and unlike the BBC3 docu-drama (mixed documentary and scripted elements), this new project will be entirely scripted, and will be based on the story, but, as the filmmakers state, will tell it from a different POV.
First, a quick recap…
Also known as the “Honeytrap murder,” the docu-drama (which I posted on Friday for you to watch) tells the true story of how then 16-year-old Shakilus Townsend was lured to his death by a girl he really liked (Samantha Joseph, also 16), and whom he apparently thought felt the same way about him, but clearly didn’t.
The disturbing act by Samantha Joseph was all in an attempt to get back with her older ex boyfriend, Danny McLean. The story goes that she was dating both Townsend and McLean simultaneously, McLean eventually found out and dumped her. She wanted him back, and essentially made a pact with McLean that she’d bring Townsend to him for what was to be a thrashing.
Joseph led Townsend to McLean, his brothers and friends (members of a South London gang), where he was beaten with a baseball bat. and stabbed in the chest five times; he later died from huge amounts of blood loss.
The group responsible for his death, including the young lady who willingly lead him to it, were all convicted of murder in 2009.
In the BBC3 project, John Boyega played Shakilus Townsend, Simona Zivkovska was Samantha Joseph, and Malachi Kirby as the older Danny McLean; it aired last spring.
In the indie film project, the story will unfold via the POV of the girl, Samantha Joseph. Here’s their description of it:
Yearning for love and status, fifteen-year-old Layla is swept into a whirlwind romance with self-styled gang leader/rapper Troy – and then spat out the other side. Desperate to win Troy back, Layla offers to set up the boy who’s in love with her to be killed… When the forces she sets in motion start to collide, Layla must choose: between two boys, between desire and friendship, between power and connection to another human being. We have not seen a character like Layla take centre stage before and it is time her story was told.
So it sounds like it might be more of an “inspired by” production than a direct translation.
Currently titled Honeytrap: Layla’s Story, the film is written and will be directed by Rebecca Johnson, a 10-year filmmaking veteran, who has directed several short films that have played the international film festival circuit, winning acclaim and awards along the way.
Her “trademark style” includes utilizing drama workshops with talents from the communities in which her films are set, to generate material and pull out incredibly naturalistic performances from usually young, untrained actors.
And it looks like she and her production team are planning to make Honeytrap in very much the same way, adding the following:
We know HONEYTRAP is a contentious story. It not only tackles difficult issues without easy solutions but it is very different from other recent UK films set in gang culture. HONEYTRAP will feel more like independent US films such as Sin Nombre, Monster or Boys Don’t Cry. It will be cinematic and beautiful, capturing the yearning and obsessive fantasies that drive the story. We want to make it now. HONEYTRAP is a story with contemporary resonance that needs to be made and seen NOW! After three years of writing, we now have a story that is tight, heart-wrenching and extremely powerful. We are ready and we don’t want to wait!
An IndieGoGo campaign with a $75,000 goal, was launched to help fund the film. Thus far, they’ve raised almost half of that figure, with 10 days to go. But the good thing about IndieGoGo is that they let you keep whatever you raise (minus IndieGoGo’s own 7-9% percentage of course), whether or not you reach your objective, unlike Kickstarter.
So even if they don’t raise the entire $75,000, they’ll have come up with enough to do some starter damage, and then maybe try to raise the rest in smaller chunks from here on.
For a sample of her work, in 2009, Rebecca’s short film Top Girl screened at over 30 film festivals, winning numerous prizes and awards and selling to Canal+ and other broadcasters.
You can watch it below. And if you’d like to contribute to their campaign, visit the project’s IndieGoGo page HERE, or within the widget underneath. But first, here’s their sales pitch: