Screen 2011 Star of Tomorrow Rowan Athale makes his feature directorial debut with this story of friendship and a heist, starring Luke Treadaway, Iwan Rheon, Gerard Kearns, Matthew Lewis, Timothy Spall, Vanessa Kirby and Neil Maskell.


Writer/Director: Rowan Athale

Producers: Ed Barratt, Mark Foligno, Gareth Pritchard

Cast: Luke Treadaway, Iwan Rheon, Gerard Kearns, Matthew Lewis, Timothy Spall, Vanessa Kirby, Neil Maskell

DoP: Stuart Bentley

Editor: Kim Gaster

First AD: Pete Manoogian

Line producer: Farah Abushwesha

International Sales: Bankside

Finance: Private investors, tax credit, bankside/headgear, Moli Films, LipSync equity investment against post-production

Delivery: Autumn 2012

Rowan Athale, a 2011 Screen International Star of Tomorrow, is now in post with his debut feature, Wasteland.

The film, pitched as akin to Ocean’s 11 on a Northern Council Estate, is about four best friends who hatch a heist plan to better their lives.

The lads are played by Luke Treadaway, Iwan Rheon, Gerard Kearns, and Matthew Lewis; with Timothy Spall as a police interrogator, Vanessa Kirby as the love interest and Neil Maskell as a local thug.

The project shot for 28 days in and around Leeds (the production office was based at the new Prime Studios in Leeds, and had a crew of under 50.)

The film also includes an appearance by Leeds indie band The Pigeon Detectives.

It has been a passion project for Athale and producing partner Gareth Pritchard for several years (the pair set up Mischief Films together).

All three producers get their first feature producer credits. Barratt, who set up Hook Pictures with Chris Taylor, explains: “We all have different skillsets, Mark has that post expertise with Molinare, I had worked on set and knew about budgets and schedules and development, and Gareth is the one that has been working on it with Rowan for years.”

It won’t be the typical heist film. Pritchard explains: “People are hugely worried about clichés, if it’s a Northern gritty heist film. But this is something different. The humanity up here is fantastic and Rowan knows that better than anyone almost…People that read the script saw that.”

He adds: “You’ll like the characters and that’s vital. Their plan isn’t legal but their reasons are fairly honourable. Also,  there are no guns in the film, which is something we said right from the beginning.

Athale says: “I think that people that come from these places are usually only seen in social realist films. I just wanted to show the characters and their humour and their charisma.”

Athale kept a calm demeanor on set. “You don’t have to remind everyone all the time that you’re the director. You can get everyone on the right page before you start.”

Luke Treadaway was impressed by the first-time fetaure director. “He’s happy and calm and confident, not like in some first-time directors where you can see the panic.”

Treadaway says the four actors at the core of the film have worked extremely well together. “We’re a right little gang.  It’s nice to do a film with guys the same age, and it’s a group of lads that don’t have egos.” Athale agrees: “We’ve been lucky all very different people and all differnet to their characters but they are working very very supportively and there is no ego between them.”

The particularness of the character appealed to Treadaway. “It was so different to something I’d done before. And it was emotionally quite dark. I’m not a kid from an estate in Leeds, I’m from a small village in Devon, so it’s exciting for me to create a person that’s really far from who I am.

Gerard Kearns adds: “I liked the script because I think it was a little bit different. This is an attainable goal. And it’s about the class system and divices which are ever more apparent.”

Matthew Lewis notes that it’s ultimately “a redemption film, about friendship and loyalty. They are good guys, they aren’t thugs.”

Wales-born Iwan Rheon adds that he was also up for the challenge of playing a new kind of character. “The character itself was quite different to what I’ve done. It’s a really different accent, we’ve had dialect coaching and also it’s great to have [local resident] Matthew around.”

Mark Foligno, former MD of post house Molinare, had executive produced films including The King’s Speech and Chatroom and he set up MoliFilms in 2011 with Wasteland being his first feature producing credit. He says: “In Wasteland, I believe we have produced a great British heist movie, based on a terrific script by Rowan with passion, pace and peril at every corner, underpinned by a terrific young British cast, we all are looking forward with relish to its roll out and release.”

UP NEXT: Athale also now has bigger budget scripts he’s like to shoot.