Offender - out in cinemas August 8 - features a mixture of both actors and musicians, in Ron Scalpello's compelling urban drama. And one of the musicians who decided to turn his head to the acting world is rapper English Frank - and The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape caught up with the performer ahead of the films release.
Playing the leading antagonist Jake, English Frank turns in an impressive performance as the intimidating criminal - and he discusses the difficulties in getting into character, citing road-rage as his key inspiration.
The musician also tells us of his own musical offerings within the film, as well as his pleasure with working with first-time film maker Scalpello. He also discusses his future plans, as he hopes for a potential move into Hollywood...
Firstly, the film's release isn't far away now - you must be quite proud of what you've achieved?
Yeah man. When I was doing it I was just thinking about the release date, and now that it's come it's just here, excitement has kind of gone, but at the same time that's probably just because I want another project. The exciting part is making it, but look, I'm not gonna lie, I'm excited, I just can't wait to see the reaction from how people feel about it and how well it does.
How have you found the transition from music to film - and is this something you've always wanted to do?
I've always wanted to make like an epic picture, or music or anything, it's all entertainment. If I could do ten back flips now I'd do it just to entertain, do you know what I'm saying? I've always just wanted to entertain, not as an attention seeker but I wanted to produce art in any way, music, film... And this is my first opportunity because obviously it's a lot harder due to budgets, this is a few million pounds and that's only a small budget for a film, so yeah I've always wanted to - just had to wait for the right opportunity.
What's it like playing the bad guy - I've always imagined that's the most fun part to play?
Kind of, but it's hard. You know, my character is constantly angry - the director was like, you gotta pump it up more, and I was just like, bruv I'm just angry all the time and it's gonna be boring, but he told me that was just my character. So I just had to pump up the anger, and it's fake anger as well, or it is anger and you've got to build it and then contain it because there is no-one who you can take it out on, you're just angry because you've got to be an angry actor and it's tough bruv, a lot tougher than you think. The fun part is probably watching yourself, but doing it is tough.
So how did you motive yourself in that respect - if you know you've got to really angry in a scene, how did you get yourself in that frame of mind?
A lot of the time it's just fake, it's just a look and you're not even really angry. That's what started happening when I became so tired, it was quite hard I'm not going to lie. When I first had to put on the angry face I was just thinking of road rage - it just brought back that anger I had a few hours ago.
What was it like working alongside such a young and talented cast?
It was fun man, everyone that had a specific lead job was talented, the director is super talented, the team he had working with him worked very well, of all of the actors that played main parts there were no weak links they were all good actors, it was good man, it was good. I don't like working around weak links so it was a good feeling. I mean there were a few weak links here and there and I had to put my word in but apart from that it was great.
When you were first approached did you have any hesitation or were you on board right from the word go?
When I read the script I was happy, I knew it would be a good film. You know, I don't like reading but when I read the script I was proper into it, I finished it in one night and I'm slow at reading as well - but it took me five hours. I was on it, and it's come out as good, if not better than I thought it would.
What was the atmosphere like on set, because you've got some quite big personalities around the place?
It's work, innit, it's work. If we were chilling in a bar and it was sunny it would have been fun, but it was a great experience and being with G-FrSH is fun, he's got this aura about him, he was probably the most fun to be around but the set wasn't fun, it was cold trust me.
From a musical point of view, am I right in thinking you supplied a few pieces to the film's soundtrack?
Yeah I offered a few, I just wanted to be more involved, as a musician people just think, oh English Frank, grime, rap... but trust me if I was show you a catalogue of what I've got in my gallery, of music with no lyrics to it just sounds and film scores, everything, I'm really into music, not just rapping but every type of music, I love good music. So yeah I've got two tracks on there, giving it that dub step feel, the feel that the film kind of wanted.
So having seen the film how important do you think the music is to Offender?
It works. There's a motorbike chase and they play my track Animal, the instrumental, and it works because it's up tempo and it's proper. That's why I make certain tunes to get to different markets but I'm always going to have that firm base in hip hop. The music in this makes a big difference because it's like 20, or 30 per cent of the film. If there was no music you'd think the film is rubbish, that it's missing an atmosphere or an aura or whatever, so the music plays a big part definitely.
So what's coming up for you next? Any other film projects lined up?I'm waiting for something bigger, I'm writing something at the moment. I don't want to take on anything less than this, I don't want to be classed as an actor, I want to be classed as an artist. So I'm not going to do anything lower than this, I want to climb from this if it's acting. Other than that I'll be back to music which I naturally always climb by myself anyway because I always get more links, more connection, more understanding of the music industry and I always get better as a musician. So I'm focusing on music until someone comes to me and say, "Yo Frank, wanna come to Hollywood?"
If you were to get into behind-the-camera stuff, such as writing, will you be taking any pointers from Ron having worked with him on this project?
Definitely, yeah. Directing, definitely. I learnt a lot. I learnt a lot. I directed my first five music videos myself so I am a director and I've learnt a lot from Ron, definitely. The best thing is being efficient, sharp and on it - getting the job done right, because otherwise you lose the buzz. If everything goes dead and quiet on set for a minute, it's not about that. I've never worked with anyone else so I can't compare him but Ron did a very good job. A very good job.
Offender Film Page | Offender Review
OFFENDER IS OUT WEDNESDAY AUGUST 8