Last week, PCN’s Jarv reviewed Paul Tanter’s crime caper The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan, which released in the UK on July 2nd. He got a chance to sit down with director Paul Tanter, producer Jonathan Sothcott, and the film’s stars, Nick Nevern and Simon Philips. The film sounds like a fun slice of Brit crime drama and the gang behind it sound like a jovial and energetic sort. And now, I hand you over to Jarv….
It’s a typically dismal London Summer’s day, the drizzle is coming down, the humidity is off the scale, and I’m waiting outside a plush central London office. Assured, despite my obvious nerves, that they’re all “hugely enthusiastic”, I’m faintly surprised to hear that not only am I interviewing Paul Tanter, director, but also producer Jonathan Sothcott, and Mike and Eddie (Nick Nevern and Simon Phillips respectively). So gathering my nerves, and quickly rethinking my questions, I walk in to possibly the hottest office in London.
And you know what? They are indeed an effervescent and hugely enthusiastic group. Rightly proud of Hooligan, which Jonathan describes as a “really really classy British Crime film”, they’re a refreshingly honest and massively entertaining time, bouncing easily off each other, and justifiably happy with how the pic turned out. There’s a palpable sense that the majority of this group has worked together frequently in the past. Although Jonathan is swift to point out that his and Simon’s careers have been “two ships passing in the night,” with this their first collaboration.
This frankly prolific bunch have been working together on and off (Jonathan excepted) for the last three or four years and Rise is the zenith of their achievement to date. Telling the story of a working class football fanatic’s involvement with a credit card scam, White Collar Hooligan is a tight and pacey romp through London’s underworld. Featuring warm performances, some decent laughs, and surprisingly little violence, it adds up to an enjoyable, albeit not groundbreaking, caper film.
I’ve seen a lot of British films, particularly those involving hooliganism in its various forms, and I noted at the time that White Collar Hooligan isn’t massively violent and not particularly about the thuggishness of Hooliganism. Nick points out, happily, that the characters aren’t hooligans, rather they’re football fans first and foremost, and this is a far cry from the 80’s: “They just love football, him and Eddie just flit off to wherever to do these credit card things, and every time they’re in a new country they’ll go to a game”.
This is, they’re clear to emphasise, not a traditional misery porn and working class violence fest, with the crime being first and foremost the focus. As Paul says “It’s kind of a backdrop to the main theme, which is the credit card fraud”. He goes on further to explain that “while there are violent actions, we don’t tend to linger on them, we move on very quickly, and this was in many ways a conscious thing. In terms of football violence, if we’d started with a lot of violence, then people would have lost Mike, and also Eddie, really early on.” Although he does admit that he’d was hoping for a bit more of pickup from England fans (to much hilarity from Nick: “I could have told you that in the group stage”), so it’s nice and totally unsurprising to see the National side letting cinema down as well.
The crime here is fascinating, and I can’t believe that I’ve never seen Credit Card cloning done on the big screen. As Simon says “The beauty of this is that it’s a true story, not that long ago. That’s what makes it so great, it’s such a powerful story and these guys took millions and millions of pounds.” Jonathan expands with “The fictional bit is that he wasn’t a hooligan, that’s Paul’s addition”. Paul takes up the theme and when asked if it’s a banking analogy, says it’s not intentional, although it’s almost impossible in this day and age to avoid it- but credit card fraud is a victimless crime, “no-one gets a shotgun poked in their face” with it.
Expanding on the White Collar theme, Paul happily corrects me with “White Collar refers to the crime”, as I press talking about Mike being essentially blue collar, Paul again points out that the early scenes work to humanise the character, they’re intentionally funny scenes, and were selected to earn him sympathy with the viewer”. There are, I’m told, much that ended up on the cutting room floor, as these weren’t as interesting and comical as the scenes that made it to the final cut.
Nick is a relatively unknown actor, and Jonathan points out that they cast Nick as they worked with him on another film, and they “really liked Nick, we saw him as being a next generation movie star. He doesn’t come with all that baggage of Brit gangster films”. However, they’re equally warm about other cast members. Paul talks about Rita Ramani (Kate in the film) being as much of a focus as Nick, and that they worked hard to avoid making her into “a sort of beaten housewife, nagging all the time when he comes home, but everyone found her very warm and engaging”.
As well as a certain fizz, White Collar Hooligan has a fair dash of visual panache, despite the essentially mundane nature of the central crime. When asked about the style, Paul acknowledges that standing at a cash machine isn’t the most “visually exciting” act ever filmed. He enthusiastically talks about the fact they supplemented this by including true-to-life montages in of “wine women and song”. The real-life perpetrator regularly went through over a grand a night on coke, booze and expensive women.
They’ve always been a stylish group, though. Paul’s background is primarily film, but in their past, Paul and Simon worked on the Jack trilogy (as yet unseen by me), that has hugely stylised, almost “Sin City esque,” visuals and came complete with Graphic Novels that bridged the story. Yet, they feel that the Jack films were about “cutting their teeth”, and that White Collar Hooligan is, according to Jonathan, the “product of that learning curve. “ Nick agrees, stating “Every time we’ve got better”.
So, where to next for them? Jonathan is hugely prolific and has recently had Strippers vs Werewolves released on DVD, which I’ve been wanting to see because I can’t resist that kind of film. Chata actually turns out 6 films a year, all proudly without Lottery assistance. They’ve just wrapped on Once Upon a Time in Essex, Simon has Riot coming out soon, but despite other projects the four of them promise to return to Mike and Eddy “The idea is to push ahead and make White Collar Hooligan 2” to tie up the loose ends left in the first film.
To be honest, if their learning curve keeps going at the same rate, then count me in.
Read PCN’s take here: ‘Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan’ Review
Read Jarv’s other articles for PCN here:
Check out Jarv’s writing over at Werewolves on the Moon, where he covers everything from schlock to classic literature and video games