What’s it all about, Elfie?
Could the next-door neighbors be cannibals?
That’s what rising star Jaime Winstone sets out to prove as the title character Elfie Hopkins in a tasty shocker she hopes you’ll just want to eat up.
Currently filming on location in West Wales, the stylish independent horror toplines the Donkey Punch and Dead Set actress as a grungy wannabe detective who attempts to uncover the human flesh-eating truth about the close-knit Gammon family.
“Its Twin Peaks meets Miss Marple, with a Tim Burton-esque look and X-Files tone,” says Jaime in her Elfie costume of old Hawaiian shirt, ripped jeans, Dr. Marten boots and beanie hat covering green-tinged bleached blonde hair. “Elfie is literally the offshoot of a game director Ryan Andrews and I played â if you could be any type of superhero who would you be? My alter ego always has been a kick-ass chick dying to investigate crimes who invents this imaginary world where she’s this higher power with a honed intellect.”
Jaime became firm friends with 29-year-old Andrews when he was part of the camera crew on Daddy’s Girl, a Welsh thriller she made in 2006. “We instantly bonded,” she continues. “We got each other the moment we met. Our tastes are similar in everything from films to music, what we liked and didn’t, our shared attitudesâ¦ It was a collision of minds, a love affair between our brains. We inspired each other and when he showed me his short films and videos I knew he had massive potential and that we were destined to work together.”
One of those shorts was titled The Gammons and it was this concept that Andrews, with co-writer Riyad Barmania, turned into a feature film script. “The Elfie character played a minor role in the short,” explains Andrews. “But after meeting Jaime I knew she could become the main focus and make it something really special and unique in British horror fantasy terms. Elfie is a finely tuned representation of my own childhood memories growing up in rural Wales. I often used to imagine myself as a vampire hunter let loose on a community of surreal country folk. Riyad and I have taken those already magnified experiences and transformed them further into a combination of British twee and American grunge â a weird mash-up of two worlds with a heightened reality comic-strip feel informed by everything between author Roald Dahl and The Lost Boys to Brit photographer Tim Walker and The Shining.”
Elfie Hopkins is a co-production between Black and Blue Films (Dead Cert, Devil’s Playground) and Size 9 Productions, set up by Jaime’s world famous father Ray Winstone (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and their agent, Michael Wiggs. It was Jaime who steered them all towards the script knowing it was a signature role and a good franchise opportunity. Black and Blue producer Jonathan Sothcott remarks, “It’s a quality script and so many British genre ones aren’t. Ryan is a visionary director who knows exactly what he wants to do, the world he wants to create and the characters he wants to populate that world. When he first mentioned it to me he described it as ‘The ‘Burbs in Wales’ starring Jaime and a homicidal family of cannibal nutters who move into her sleepy neighborhood. I was sold. I believed in Ryan, love Jaime and once Ray was in the mix acting a crucial cameo, I knew we’d be mad not to do it.”
Winstone senior plays Butcher Bryn, Elfie’s guardian angel of sorts. “It’s important to support your family,” points out The Departed and Beowulf star. “I’ve had faith in Ryan’s script for a long time now and when the chance came to appear in it too, I agreed because it’s a bloody good role. I have acted with Jamie before [the TV series ‘Vincent’] but here I felt more protective of her, watching in case she made a mistake instead of looking out for my performance. Once I realized she actually was my professional equal, I stopped that to hold my own end up. Plus I loved my white butcher’s costume, I look like a Crusader covered in blood after being on the battlefield!”
Size 9 producer Michael Wiggs thinks he knows another reason why Ray Winstone decided to take on Butcher Bryn. “He sees a lot of Ryan in himself. I’ve known Ray for over 20 years and when we met he told me he never accepted there was a right way of doing anything and that he always intended to follow his instincts no matter what. He recognized that quality in Ryan, someone also not afraid to break all the rules. Ray has kept that independent spirit, passed it on to Jaime, and Ryan resonated with both because of it. Anyone who meets Ryan from crew to actors immediately gets fired up by his ideas, enthusiasm and vision; it’s why Size 9 decided to make Elfie Hopkins its first theatrical feature.”
Starring alongside Jaime Winstone is Aneurin Barnard (Ironclad) as Elfie’s best friend, Kimberley Nixon (Black Death), her romantic nemesis, and Steven Mackintosh (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans).
The Gammon family consists of husband and wife Rupert Evans (Hellboy) and Kate Magowan (Primeval), with teenage kids Gwyneth Keyworth and Will Payne. Cast very late in the day Rupert Evans hotfooted it from the Belgian locations of his just completed horror film Incident at Sans Asylum to the Welsh village of Ceredigion where the Gammons’ house is director Andrews own family home dressed in Texas Chainsaw art deco chic. “I just thought the script was so different,” says Evans. “It was so odd, twisted and strange yet rooted in an askew reality I recognized. The Gammons are sophisticated aesthetes in glamorous Vivienne Westwood influenced designer creations who run an exotic holiday travel agency, the way they explain the disappearance of their victims, and each family member represents one of the four main aspects of cannibalism. I’m the spiritual one; the others reflect the sexual, control and nutritional sides. I’ve had no problems with the gore scenes. I played a chef in Incident and cut up loads of meat there too. Hey, I’m a farmer’s boy, and never get squeamish over that stuff.”
“I still can’t believe we’re actually filming,” says Jaime Winstone, watching Evans go through his mouthwateringly murderous paces off-camera. “We’ve been discussing these scenes for over four years now and we’re finally acting them out. I keep looking at Ryan and laughing as we both pinch ourselves it’s actually happening. This is exactly the sort of film I want to be in and because no one else was writing it, we did it ourselves. We never gave up, ever, even when we dallied with filming it in 3D last year. I would loved to have seen something like Elfie Hopkins when I was growing up; independent, inspiring, scary and providing the best fantasy option to believe in yourself. It’s way too premature but who knows what might come next, Elfie Hopkins and the Sorcerer’s Stone perhaps!”
Source: Alan Jones