Charlotte Regan is the director of Sundance darling Scrapper, a lovely indie film about a strong-willed young girl Georgie (Lola Campbell), who is dealing poorly with the grief of losing her mother until her estranged father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), returns. Regan spent last night at the Tyneside Cinema, a cinema she cannot praise highly enough. Today she’s doing Edinburgh International Film Festival junkets. Tomorrow, Glasgow. It’s no surprise then that she’s feeling a little faint. Sat in her Kate Herron GirlsOnTops tee, she takes a small pinprick of blood from her finger to check her sugar levels. It’s not anyone’s business to know the medical reasoning as to why she did but the act mirrors one of the film’s most interesting ideas, which is the hearing aid that Lola Campbell’s Georgie wears. “It is her own hearing aid, and we try not to talk about it much because it’s her choice to discuss it. So yeah, it is her hearing aid, and we’re very keen not to make a thing of it.” She echoes the sentiment made about inclusivity, likening the disability to normalising glasses. “She used it to her advantage on set. When she was sick of notes, she would say (Regan cups her ear), ‘So sorry I don’t think the levels were quite right’.”
“I think other actors of [Harris Dickinson’s] calibre would have seen it as their film, whereas he was so aware that it was Lola’s film and he has to support her. Not many actors that I’ve met go into a scene thinking about how they can make the scene better for everyone as a whole as well as those he’s involved in”.
Georgie’s father, Jason (Harris Dickinson), turns up, upending her self-sufficient life. “He [Harris] gave so much of himself to the production.”, says Regan. “He was around so often, and he just knew what people needed. I think other actors of his calibre would have seen it as their film, whereas he was so aware that it was Lola’s film and he has to support her. Not many actors that I’ve met go into a scene thinking about how they can make the scene better for everyone as a whole as well as those he’s involved in”. Having met Harris on the set of a previous short film – one that she doesn’t think of fondly – she’s grateful for the experience of meeting him there. “He’s just so incredibly selfless. Like obviously he’s an amazing actor, and his performances are sick, but he also would turn up when he didn’t have scenes, to support the kids.”
Finding the right Georgie was vital for Regan, who describes the casting process. “Shaheen Baig was our casting director, who was incredible and the best at street casting, in particular. Lola sent in a tape talking about how great Home Bargains the discount store is, just like rambling away about it and didn’t answer any of the questions that we had given her.” Regan says she fell in love with Lola at that point but to be careful when mentioning rival discount store B&M. “Oh, Lola has big beef with B&M. She hates people who mention B&M in the same sentence as Home Bargains.” Why Lola has this opinion is niche, and juvenile, but Regan perks up, channelling Lola’s youthful vibrancy “Her reasoning was that they don’t have slush puppies in B&M. She loves the Home Bargains pick ’n’ mix confectionery and their homeware for some reason. She’s a child, so she’s allowed to be juvenile. We can let her get away with it”. That juvenility is captured brilliantly with the child-like perspectives that Regan employs, such as the use of talking spiders as Pokémon. I was curious if using a Pokémon aesthetic for those scenes required permission from Nintendo “Oh well we didn’t, not yet anyway. But it was just me with Photoshop, recreating them with shapes, so hopefully I haven’t broken copyright law!”. The film is shot just outside London, with a specific train station used as the backdrop for major scenes. “It was mostly the Rainham/Dagenham area. We meant to film at Tilbury because I picked it to look the most cinematic, but the sound techy was like “it’s loud as fuck, you selfish bastard” so we had to change it.”
“It was mostly [filmed in] the Rainham/Dagenham area. We meant to film at Tilbury because I picked it to look the most cinematic, but the sound techy was like “it’s loud as fuck, you selfish bastard” so we had to change it.”
The father-daughter dynamic was one Regan wanted to pursue, with her directorial influences being both apt and ‘out-there’. “Our DP Molly [Manning-Walker] kept saying The Bourne Ultimatum? Which is mad, and obviously doesn’t feel or look like Scrapper at all. It’s a bit of a stretch innit? Matt Damon on the run from the big bad government facility, nothing like Scrapper.” The main influences for Regan are Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas and Peter Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon, the latter of which we tangentially wax lyrical about to each other for too long. She says the ending gets her every time.
The SCRAPPER tour has a few dates remaining and Regan’s enthusiasm for the film (which has charmed audiences nationwide), her cast and crew doesn’t seem to be waning, even when presented with feeling faint.