University staff and students to appear in movie

University staff and students are to appear in a locally produced feature film.

Senior Web Communication Officer Mike Simpson and Multimedia News Officer Nathan Ifill from the University of Leicester's Marketing and Student Recruitment team both appear in upcoming thriller "Do Something, Jake".

Speaking about his role, Mike said that Bob was such a great character that he'd learned all of his lines before even auditioning. "Filming my part in 'Do Something, Jake' was fun. I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t fun. I make no pretensions to be a ‘serious actor’, I just enjoy acting in films," Mike said. "We shot Bob’s scenes on one day, so it was really easy for me to turn up and do my stuff. But that’s not how films are for the key cast and crew. I’ve been on enough film sets over the years to know how tough things can get, but everyone on both sides of the 'Jake' camera seemed to be holding up really well."

Mike has appeared in several films including a horror movie which was partially shot on the university campus. "This is the second local feature that I’ve done. Low-budget indies nowadays tend to be either shot very quickly over a short period or shot intermittently over a few years. Both approaches have their merits, although since I only did one day on 'Jake', in this case it didn’t really make much difference! I can say that the production was well organised and very professional. I think when the film is finished it’s going to look a lot bigger and better than the budget would imply."

Nathan, a former University of Leicester student, said that he was extremely grateful for the opportunity to take part. The former station manager of the university radio station landed himself two roles, one as an on-screen extra and another voice role as a radio presenter. "Although I did some TV and radio whilst at university, 'Do Something, Jake' is the first movie that I've ever appeared in," he said. "The experience was incredible and I can't wait to see the finished result!"

Also starring in the film is fellow Leicester graduate and former Leicester University Theatre (LUT) President, Lily Portman. She says that being a member of LUT gave her the confidence to pursue more ambitious projects after university: "When I came to uni I was fairly quiet, a little shy, but soon after joining LUT I found a host of welcoming, creative, wonderful people, all of whom supported your independent work as well as involvement within the society. I became more and more comfortable up on stage and my work as vice and as president opened me up to the creative community of Leicester."

"Do Something, Jake" is Lily's feature film debut. She says that the whole experience differs greatly from other productions that she's appeared in. "It felt like a much bigger project and, of course, post production has gone on for longer and pushing for publicity too. I'd never had my make up done by a professional either!", she said.

Poster design by Sean Strong.

Directed by James Smith, the film follows the story of Jake (Jamie Alderson), an unemployed introvert, unable to read or write, who draws on brilliant ingenuity when the woman he secretly loves is threatened. "I think people can expect something very different," said Smith. Commenting on the film's links with the university, he added: "It will have a strong connection to Leicester and Leicestershire in general."

Describing the film's plot, scriptwriter Caroline Spence said: "Jake is an introvert, illiterate, and unable to hold down a basic job. Unbeknown to those around him, however, he is intelligent and ingenious - strengths he uses to secretly observe his neighbour, Alice, the woman he loves. But Alice lives with her boyfriend, Guy, a small-time criminal and drug pusher. Events escalate when Jake crosses the line from Alice's voyeur to direct manipulation of Guy's illicit dealings. Things come to a head when Alice is assaulted by Guy and his accomplice. After an unconvincing appeal to the Police, Jake decides to rescue Alice in his own ingenious, yet ultimately dangerous, way."

As well as Alderson, the film also showcases Mia Mills, Tom Loone, Ed Bergtold and John Savage. The latter recently won an award for a different kind of role, receiving a research award for presenting findings from a patient involvement study involving University of Leicester academics which was conducted last year.

Throughout filming, Leicestershire-based filmmaker Michael Mafrici documented the progress of the film, shining a light on what was taking place behind the scenes. You can watch the trailer for his "making of" documentary here:

Now in post-production, independent film company Raya Films who produced the film hope a finished cut will be ready by early September. The film's release date is yet to be confirmed.