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Rebecca Johnson on her next film ‘Honeytrap’

25 March 2013 | Nicky Charlish

"Honeytrap is a 
difficult story and explores issues without easy solutions, and I hope the film goes some way 
towards giving a voice to young women who are often overlooked in British film"

Gang culture is something we almost take for granted. But in August, film director Rebecca 
Johnson is set to start filming a new British movie - Honeytrap - which should shake-up any 
complacency we might have about this controversial topic. Set in Brixton and based on true 
events, it tells the story of Layla, a 15-year-old girl who, seeking love and status, gets 
involved with Troy, a self-styled gang leader and rapper. Rejected by him, she plans to win 
back his affections by...but that would be spoiling the plot for you.

The directorial demands are tough, but Johnson is up to - and for - the job. With 10 years 
experience of film-making in Brixton through her not-for-profit company Fierce Productions 
under her belt, her work includes Top Girl, which also deals with gang life from a female 
perspective, and which was screened at over 30 film festivals in 2009 including Berlin, 
Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand and Los Angeles. Also in 2009, she was named by leading 
movie magazine Screen International as one of its ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ a title previously 
bestowed on figures such as actors Eddie Redmayne, Gemma Arterton and Robert 
Pattinson. Johnson was also selected for the prestigious 'Guided Lights' programme, where 
she was mentored by Paul Greengrass (director, The Bourne Ultimatum) - indeed, 
Greengrass and his Oscar-winning editor Chris Rouse continue to play mentoring roles in 
her writing work and career. So we can expect her to deliver the creative goods. Working 
with her are Sarah Sulick of Bright Pictures as Producer and Laurie Holden (star of The 
Walking Dead) as Executive Producer. Also, David Raedeker (Best Cinematography, My 
Brother the Devil, Sundance 2012) is Director of Photography, Tracy Granger (Academy 
Award-winning Boys Don't Cry) is Editor, and Amanda Tabak (Kidulthood, She a Chinese) is 
Casting Director. This is a big-time team here.

There is just one hurdle Johnson has to overcome though - financing, the bane of all film-making or, indeed, any artistic undertaking. The funding target is £70,000 and, in order to 
reach it, a Crowdfunding campaign has been set-up to help raise it, with £10,000 already 
collected so far. So there's a lot of effort being exerted here, but the result should be worth 
it. As Holden says: “I am excited about this story. Rarely do girls like Honeytrap's Layla get a 
voice in contemporary film and television, except as the girlfriend or victim. But their 
viewpoint needs to be seen and heard so that we can understand the pressures they face 
and what drives them. I've always loved London and am coming over for an extended visit 
in April. I'm keen to promote the film, and encourage involvement from a variety of 
sources.”

Sulick is upbeat, too. ”We're delighted to have the support of Laurie. She had a 
visceral response to the screenplay and is very passionate about the project. Combined 
with the contributions we're already receiving for the film both from the public pledging 
money through our Crowdfunding campaign, and grants from foundations, we're now in a 
position to drive forward with production.” She adds: “By raising money through 
Crowdfunding, we're able to demonstrate to industry-backers the level of support we have. To have raised so much in just a few days is fantastic, and already we're experiencing a 
tremendous amount of support from Brixton and the wider film industry.”

So Johnson is - rightly - full of zeal: “This is a unique project and one I have immense pride 
in as a Brixton resident myself. We often see the headlines without exploring the social 
pressures that make these incidents happen, and that's what I hope to show. Honeytrap is a 
difficult story and explores issues without easy solutions, and I hope the film goes some way 
towards giving a voice to young women who are often overlooked in British film.”

But Johnson's work doesn't stop with sitting in the director's chair. Using drama workshops, 
she gets material - and performances - which combine authenticity and powerfulness from 
untrained, young actors. During each of its projects, Fierce Productions runs a unique 
Training and Mentoring programme, enabling young people to work alongside film industry 
professionals and then go on to secure paid employment in the film industry, roles in BBC 
dramas or, indeed, make their own films. South London Trust the Walcot Foundation has 
awarded a £20,000 grant towards this programme for Honeytrap, ensuring that young 
people from Brixton can get involved. The film's music will be scored by Brixtonians Skwilla 
(Top Girl), MC Killa P (former member of Roll Deep), and new Polydor artist Russo. Johnson looks unflinchingly at the red meat of dysfunctional society, and those for whom it 
is everyday fare. Prepare to be ensnared - and enlightened - by Honeytrap's power.

For more information about the film please click here

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