Junior Doctor Jai Singh and his wife Nishaa, struggling with life as immigrants in 1960’s England, keep life-altering secrets from each other but sooner or later the truth will reveal itself.
Set in the West Midlands, Great Britain is a social realist drama that follows the endeavours of a young Punjabi couple as they struggle to settle in a hostile environment. Secrets formed out of love are kept from each other. But, sooner or later the truth will reveal itself.
Originally, this collaboration came from both Mason Treen and Sandeep Pall reminiscing about home, the West-Midlands.
"Having moved to Bournemouth, I found myself more and more disconnected from my culture and where I come from. Despite the time away, home would become something I would draw upon as a source of inspiration and ideas. Mason and I went into the development process with ‘home’ in mind. Through looking at various aspects, we had to decide on the focus by asking what really makes where we come from special? The answer. Multiculturalism. Taking this aspect and having previously looked at legacy and how our Grandparents had laid the foundations for us to have more life opportunities, we wanted to create a period piece representing the immigrants who had come to the West Midlands.
For me, this film is about my own personal ‘immigrants guilt’ and a thank you for the hardships endured by first-generation immigrants who laid the foundation. Although the film looks at the issues in a South Asian household and any taboos that come within the community, it's never from a judgmental or arbitrary perspective. All the opportunities that I have had or will have, come from the sacrifices that my parents and grandparents have made. To honour that legacy, I wanted to explore this in Great Britain. ‘’ — Sandeep Pall (Co-Writer of Great Britain)
Sandeep's Grandfather (left) and Father (right)
"Sandeep and I came up with this story over lockdown. We were also inspired by the work ethic of the NHS, more specifically those health care workers who left their home countries to travel to the UK in order to help an overwhelmed NHS. Social media erupted with support for these foreign health care workers, most of whom decided to leave their families for the foreseeable future in order to aid those in severe conditions due to COVID-19. However, I also saw a sickening amount of racism towards the foreign health care workers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The horrific comments I was seeing online lit a fire within me. I felt embarrassed to be from the same country as those expressing their racist views.
Sandeep and I discussed what I’d seen online and became inspired to create a story from the perspective of the health care workers that not only showed their point of view today, but also depicted what these people have been facing since foreign health care workers first moved to the UK. We wanted to also create a story Sandeep and myself could relate to, hence the choice to set the story within the area we’re both from. Taking inspiration from the stories that both mine and Sid's grandparents have told as well as informing the idea through our personal experiences of being from the west midlands, we felt inspired to delve into the cultural history of the area and more specifically the stories of those who immigrated to the county in seek of a better life."- Mason Treen (Co-Writer of Great Britain)
Mason's Grandparents (left) and Great Grandparents (right)
"Great Britain is a social realist drama that peeks into the harsh, sharp-edged world of mid 1960’s Birmingham from the perspective of South Asian immigrants. Now a multi-cultural hub, the city was once divided by skin tone. Smethwick in the mid 1960’s was home to a large number of immigrants, more so than any other area of The West Midlands. Many of the white inhabitants of the area were outwardly racist and opposed immigrants moving into Smethwick. A great deal of white owned businesses refused to serve any people of colour. Great Britain aims to depict this high-tension location and time period as the backdrop for Jai and Nishaa's story, with this further adding to the pressure cooker environment we intend to capture.
The underlying themes of the film will consist of poverty, culture and racism. By depicting the stark reality of issues surrounding these themes, we hope to inform viewers about experiences similar to this that people endured in the 1960s as well as similar matters that immigrants still face today. The film intends to subtly show the positive impact of immigration, through the depiction of Jai and his role within the NHS. We believe the film will resonate with mature audiences and hopes to represent the early struggles of the British Asian community accurately."-Mason Treen (Director)
"The narrative of the film demands raw visuals that represent the relationship between the couple and the society they lived in during the 1960’s. This will be represented by using warm tones while the couple are in their home in a space of comfort and trust, whereas the exterior visuals will carry a cold tone which symbolises isolation and a sense of uneasiness. Shots of the warm interiors with the cold tones of the exterior entering through the window will provide some depth and show the dichotomy.
The recently released Hindi film Sardar Udham is the main inspiration for how this film will be lit. The camera movement will further the dynamic of the characters in relation to their surroundings. Steady shots in the house would reiterate the feeling of comfort and peacefulness. In contrast outdoor shots will be handheld to give a sense of urgency and discomfort. The lighting used will be naturalistic which will be created by maintaining the right balance between ambient light and artificial lights. As our film revolves around an Indian couple, it is crucial that research is conducted to represent the characters’ skin tones accurately.
The colour palette for Great Britain will focus on shades of orange and brown for the interior shots and shades of blue for the exterior shots. The blue tones will be recreated in camera, lighting and during the colour grade. To reproduce the feeling of being in the 1960’s, the colours will be somewhat desaturated. A key detail during the pre-production and production will be the communication between the cinematographer and the production designer. This is due to the fact that every element of the film needs to be historically accurate. Along with this, cultural accuracy is also vital."- Sharang Natarajan (Director of Photography)
My vision for the design of this film is to give the interior of the couple’s home a very warm color palette, with rich colours and wood tones. Basing the house on British post-war architecture and bringing in their Indian heritage through furniture and props. My intention is also to make the flat feel lived in, to show it as the safe space it is for these two people, a place where they can be themselves without criticism. As opposed to the world outside which is cold and judgmental towards them. A lot of my inspirations comes from old photography as well as other depictions of the 60s on film, such as Small Axe (McQueen, 2020), Call the Midwife (Thomas, 2012) and Ridley Road (Mulcahy, 2021) - Ida Af Klercker (Production Designer)
As this is a period piece, the majority of donations will be going into making sure that the time period is represented authentically. As Jai and Nishaa's flat will be a set build, a large sum of the budget will go into the look and feel of the flat, hopefully transporting the audience to 1960's Birmingham.
Casting is also crucial to the film, we hope to hire high quality professional actors to bring the characters of Jai and Nishaa to life, a lot of time, effort and budget will go into casting the right actors for the parts.
Mason Treen- Co-Writer/Director- Born in Birmingham, Mason, now in his final year of university, has been directing music videos and shorts for years. Having started out in editing at the age of 14, he has acquired the skills, understanding and foresight required to tell an emotional story. Alongside Sandeep, Mason wanted to create something that is relevant to today and the past, by telling a story that would explore abject racism that imprisons a character with good intentions - to emphasise that although things have changed - things haven’t changed enough.
Sid Pall- Co-Writer- Sandeep "Sid" Pall is one half of the screenwriters of Great Britain. Growing up in a working-class area in Wolverhampton has shown him a life of multiculturalism, and he celebrates that. Having been able to experience the beauty of difference from the very start of his upbringing, it has had a heavy influence Sandeep’s work. Beginning his artistic journey at a young age as a Fine Artist, then learning to investigate the significant meaning behind his work, Sandeep first started to see the clear potency of the medium of film aged 16. Soon after, through the process of exploring this need for creativity, he found an outlet through cinema.
Sharang Natarajan- Director of Photography- Sharang is the Director of Photography for Great Britain. Having grown up in India which produces over 1600 films a year, the movie and theatre bug bit him early in life. At age 14, an opportunity to be part of the cast of a Bollywood film gave him an insight into what went into the making of a film. After acting in various other short films, he decided to follow his passion behind the camera and join Arts University Bournemouth to study film production. Sharang has a clear vision for the film and has a great understanding of the characters and the situations they are in. Hailing from India and having faced similar issues in his own life, he has a deep and personal connect with the narrative of the film.
Matt Hodges- Producer- Matt Hodges is a filmmaker from London with a particular interest in creating films that tackle important social issues. When approached by Sid and Mason to come on board "Great Britain" as Producer, he jumped at the opportunity. Having been making films all his life, he now specialises in Producing at Bournemouth film school where he has worked on many short films in various Production department roles.
Ida Af Klercker- Production Designer- Ida is the lead production designer for ’Great Britain’. Her previous work on the short film ’The Fourth Monkey’, has cemented her studio build talent and made her an essential asset to the team. The period piece setting, along with the merging of cultures, will be a challenge, but one that she is more than capable of. As an international student herself, she has experience in what it is like to move countries and the difficulty in assimilating into a new culture whilst holding true to your heritage
Isabella Caprera- Co-Producer- Isabella is the co-producer on Great Britain and is working closely with Matt to bring Mason and Sid's vision to life. Isabella's biggest draw to the film was the story of these two characters trying to thrive in an environment that is new to them whilst staying true to themselves and their beliefs. Isabella has successfully produced multiple short films during her time at university, using her organisational skills and creativity to find solutions to problems that may arise during production. With these skills, Isabella hopes to navigate her team to create a film that everyone involved in is proud of
In Hei Cheong- Camera Operator- In Hei Cheong is the camera operator for Great Britain. He is passionate about cinematography and for the past 3 years has worked on many different short films as a Cam Op. In Hei also works as a freelance photographer and videographer, and thus has a good command over the camera. His ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions on set make him a valuable asset to the Great Britain crew.
Anna Krinitcina- Editor- Anna is an aspiring film editor and has been fascinated with making films and practicing her editing skills from a young age. Over the past 4 years in university, Anna has become an experienced editor, actively participating in university and personal projects. She considers her strengths to be a strong attention to detail, the time and care she puts into her work and the drive to make the best cut she possibly can. Some films she took as inspirations are ‘Marriage Story’ (2019, Noah Baumbach) and the ‘Small Axe’ series (2020, Steve McQueen). These are films that portray a raw and real look at immigrants and marriage and bring a unique and authentic perspective.
Dan Hearn- Sound Designer- Dan is responsible for both production sound and sound design on ‘Great Britain’. He chose to work on the project on account of the storyline and the strength of the crew, in particular the opportunity to work alongside Mason in a directorial position. Dan is particularly excited about the challenge that editing in a foreign language will present, and believes that he and Anna are more than equipped for what should be a stimulating and rewarding experience.
Helix Green- Costume Designer- Helix Green is the costume designer for Great Britain. Having had a fascination with stories and bringing stories to life for most of their life, it wasn’t till half-way through secondary school that they became impassioned for the craft of Costume Design and the artistry behind the stage and screen. With a growing enthusiasm for colour and texture, alongside a passion for dressing people who's voices aren't always heard, Helix hopes to bring a spirit and a drive for authenticity to the costumes of Great Britain.