Argy films are adapting John F. McDonald’s novel Tribe at locations across the South East.
TRIBE is a tale of conflict between the world of the Gypsy and the world of the Gorgio (settled people), as seen through the eyes of Owen McBride (Billy Cook) – a half‐breed with a Gypsy father and a Gorgio mother – and Ann (Kerrie Hayes), an ambitious policewoman. This ground breaking production offers a sympathetic take on the traveller community and the prejudices they face, whilst giving audiences a rollercoaster ride of forbidden love, violence, corruption and greed.
Torn between two ways of life, Owen (Billy Cook) finds that saving the life of a stranger ensnares him in a deadly adventure. Pursued by a gang of violent criminals, Owen goes into hiding with his father’s gypsy tribe on their camp, where he earns the respect of his peers by mastering the time honoured trade of taming wild horses.
With traveller roots himself and incredible screen presence, Billy Cook was born to play Owen. In this, Billy’s debut feature, his performance as Owen MacBride as a charming, impulsive bad-boy with his own sense of pride and honour is set to put him on the map with movie audiences.
Rising star Kerrie Hayes plays Ann – a young policewoman whose pursuit of Owen turns out to be more than professional. Kerrie’s performances have dazzled audiences since her debut in BBC TV’s LILLIES, and her performance in KICKS was BAFTA nominated. Kerrie will soon be seen in the eagerly-anticipated big screen version of BRIGHTON ROCK and industry observers expect her career to go the same way as that of Carey Mulligan.
At the heart of the film, David Essex plays Blackberry – a Gypsy horse trainer who befriends Owen, taking him in when he has nowhere else to go. David needs no introduction – his enduring appeal has included an extraordinary musical career, a series of West End successes and the role of romantic lead in a primetime BBC TV series.
Despite his success (Mr Essex’s previous films such as THAT’LL BE THE DAY and STARDUST were box office smashes) the star has always been very selective when taking on big screen projects, choosing only those that have a particular appeal to him. David’s involvement with Tribe is a tribute to Argy Films commitment not only to the important messages of the film, but outstanding production values and a unique style which sets the film apart. Part of the attraction is undoubtedly that David’s mother is of Romany descent, giving him a particular interest in the project.
The film is currently being shot on location in Dorset. Among other locations, principal sets include a 200 acre farm on which the gypsy camp and Mongolian yurt are sited, and where wild horses roam in the background; the dramatic banger racing at Matcham’s race track is the scene of the opening fight scene; and out of town warehouses are home to a series of explosions. The gypsy camp itself is the temporary home of a number of travellers, who are enjoying living on a film set during production.
Behind the camera, BAFTA-nominated award winning film-maker Benjamin Johns has been chosen to helm the project. While TRIBE makes Benjamin’s debut as a feature film director, his background in tackling controversial subjects with sensitivity and style enables him to handle not only the emotionally charged drama that the story requires but also the complex action set pieces that pepper Owen and Ann’s journey. On his right hand, Mikolaj Jaroszewicz, OSCAR winning DOP, creates magic with a unique, gritty, 80’s style which is set to wow audiences of the big screen.
Audiences watching the bare-knuckle fights, horse stunts and violent confrontations in which Ann and Owen become entangled will be amazed to discover that they were overseen by petite and beautiful River George who plays Litzy, supported by stunt coordinator Chris Manger. The seductive actress is a principal of Argy Films and has combined acting and stunt-work in such popular TV series as PRIMAEVAL, HUSTLE and the Harry Potter films. River previously starred in Argy Films supernatural thriller THE NEPHILIM which will be released when TRIBE is in post production.
John McDonald’s Tribe originally found a legion of fans of both genders and all age groups, who responded to its original and thrilling take on a very topical story. In order to ensure a feature film of the highest quality John F. McDonald (the recipient of a prestigious screenwriting award in the United States) was invited to adapt his own work for the screen, and his screenplay- which was at once contemporary and timeless – allowed Argy Films to assemble an outstanding list of British talent both in front of and behind the camera.