5 UK Directorial Debuts

Here are some of the best and most promising directorial debuts to come out of the UK in recent years. It is interesting to see that most of these debutants have been in the British entertainment scene in different areas for quite a while before making their move into directing a feature.

1. Ben Wheatley- Down Terrace (2009)-Budget: £6,000

This is an extremely impressive directorial debut in classic Indie style. Shooting mostly in one location with great performances from both actors and non-actors using a great dialogue. This debut shows a huge potential, which was confirmed by his second film Kill List, an instant cult classic. I think that Ben has brought a much-needed boost to British genre film and he has shown he can play with audience expectation. His films show great use of mixing genres with the inclusion of dark humour to create something else entirely.  This reminds me of the South Korean genre film renaissance, which started in the late 90s. Ben Wheatley brings a wealth of comedy and realism to his films that I think makes audiences relate to the characters- Ben has great control in turning scenes on their heads starting them out hugely aggressive then becoming very calm afterwards giving his characters a realistic side as people usually come around to arguments or calm down after having a rant. This film is extremely impressive for the budget they had and goes to show that having a great script is gold dust for the Indie filmmaker.

2. Joe Cornish-Attack the Block (2011)-Budget: £9 Million

Joe Cornish’s directorial debut is Attack the Block is an incredibly well made film both story wise and technically. You can clearly see his influences coming through from the 90s American sci-fi horrors with a mix of comedy. Adam has been around the British entertainment scene for a while with the Adam & Joe Show. The film is incredibly funny but also has a budget to make it look awesome. The main characters in this film are hooded youths from the estate. He cleverly starts the film with them being the baddies but then it is switched as they have to battle aliens. The character depth seen within these characters is very funny, their dialogue is very true to life as this was due to Joe doing a lot of research by visiting London youth centres and talking to the youths about what they would say if they were in the same situation as the characters. This research led to some really genuinely funny lines in the film. The reason it succeeded was because it gave the audience everything they wanted from an Alien invasion film, it had really funny humour, good action and also delves into how these hooded teenagers feel to show why they do these bad things rather than just seeing them as two-dimensional characters. Joe Cornish is another huge genre director to come out of England and his very polished film will no doubt lead him to direct big Hollywood blockbusters.

3.Chris Morris-Four Lions (2010)-Budget: £2.5 Million

British Legend Chris Morris is best known for the controversial Brass Eye. He doesn’t stop the controversy with Four Lions, which is comedy about suicide bombers. Chris Morris did a lot of research over 3 years whilst developing this film interviewing Terrorist Intelligence agents and Muslim communities. The film has a lot of warmth, heart and comedy. It is almost like only fools and horses but with terrorists. As these terrorists are quite hard to take seriously- I think what Chris Morris does that is really great is that he makes them very human to the point that you really like them. It would have been easy to portray them as horrible terrorists. I think that this film was a success because it took an issue that nobody dared make fun of and did exactly that in a smart and insightful way.

4.Paddy Considine- Tyrannosaur (2011)-Budget: £1.2Million

Tyrannosaur is one heck of an emotional rollercoaster. Moving from quaint little scenes with sensitive humour to drink fueled tantrums. This film is a classic man meets woman, woman has bad abusive husband. This film is a very confident directorial debut from Paddy Considine as he creates mesmerizing performances from his two leads. The film could be seen as a British social realist film except for the fact that it’s shot without much use of the handheld camera, which has become a staple of the Social realist movement. The film received very well at Cannes and has turned Paddy Considine from an actor to well reputed feature film director. This film succeeded because of the wonderful performances and the heart wrenching storyline.

5. Richard Ayoade- Submarine (2011)-Budget: £1.2Million

Richard Ayoade has been on the comedy scene for a while being in such programs as the IT Crowd & Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. Submarine is a cute movie, the style of the film reminds me very much of Wes Anderson. The story follows a boy as he falls in love with a girl. But obviously things aren’t that simple as their parents are going through some problems of their own such as one of her parents having cancer. The main protagonist 15 year old Oliver becomes aware that his mother is growing increasingly bored with his father and might be having an affair with a local mystic (Paddy Considine). This was a successful debut as the film has a nice story and has a good cast and characters. The film won’t blow anyone away but it’s still an assured directorial debut.