Lone: an in-depth look at our short film about homelessness

On Friday 6th November, Emmanuel House Support Centre released Lone, a short film based on the lived experiences of homeless people in Nottingham. From the directors of BBC One’s Soul Boy, Luke Radford and Toby Curson, Lone stars award-winning Television Workshop actor Justine Emma Moore, as well as Emmanuel House staff and beneficiaries. The first-person narration was written by playwright Sophie Ellerby.

The film was commissioned to launch our winter appeal and to raise awareness of the work we do to help those who are homeless, rough sleeping, in crisis or at risk of homelessness. It tells the story of Gemma, a young woman who becomes homeless when the relationships with the people closest to her break down. Whilst living on the streets Gemma is told about Emmanuel House from where she is able to take her first steps out of homelessness.

To write the story, the filmmakers interviewed Emmanuel House’s rough sleeping navigator Hannah Byrne, who has worked with over 40 female rough sleepers across the city. Gemma’s story is based on several of Hannah’s clients and it is one story out of many.

Lone aims to break down stereotypes of rough sleeping and how people think homeless people look and act.

“We’re trying to help people to understand the subtleties that can be involved in someone becoming homelessness. It isn’t simply about making poor decisions or being lazy or about about drugs and alcohol – it is often a result of a collection of different circumstances that may be complex.”

Denis Tully, CEO

Emmanuel House beneficiary Lisa Terry stars as Stacey, who tells Gemma about Emmanuel House when she first becomes homeless.

Denis added: “It was really important for the film’s authenticity that our beneficiaries were involved in the project. It’s important that our beneficiaries are seen and heard and that their story is told. What they have to say is always more powerful than what we could say on their behalf. Too often they are not listened to, despite wanting to be heard.”

In order to maintain an authentic voice, the filmmakers encouraged improvisation and many of the actors were comfortable with improvisation due to their training.

“The majority of the cast were TV Workshop alumni. We wanted to have an idea of what the story was, what the narrative was… but in terms of what happened in each scene we wanted the actors to be able to play with it a little bit, and one amazing strength of TV Workshop is their ability to improv.”

Luke Radford, film maker

“We have to give credit to Will, the Director of Photography for being on his toes and being able to capture those moments.”

Toby Curson, film maker

Speaking of their experience of working with Emmanuel House:

“The people that work at Emmanuel House don’t get enough credit. It was amazing for us to come in and witness a very small glimpse into what’s happening. There are a lot of unsung heroes in that building. There’s not enough noise made about how amazing the service is.

Luke Radford, film maker

“You would know if Emmanuel House wasn’t there. You’d see the difference around the city. It’s one of those places that stays quiet until it’s not there – the work that it does for all these people is incredible.”

Toby Curson, film maker

Thank you so much to everyone that was involved in this incredible local project.

Renowned Nottingham actor Vicky McClure said of the film:

“Thank you for all you do Emmanuel House and a huge well done to all involved in this film, incredibly powerful. It’s an incredible film, so subtle and effective. I hope it makes a huge difference.”

Vicky McClure

Interview links:

Left Lion interview with Luke, Toby and Emmanuel House marketing officer Rosie

Creative Quarter interview with Luke, Toby and Emmanuel House marketing officer Rosie

Watch the webinar and panel event with Emmanuel House CEO Denis Tully, navigator Hannah Byrne, actor Justine Emma Moore and filmmakers Luke and Toby:

Full film credits

Produced, Directed and Edited by
Toby Curson and Luke Radford

Written by
Luke Radford
Toby Curson

Narration Written by
Sophie Ellerby

Director of Photography
Will Price

Original Music by
Fergus Brignall

Gemma – Justine Emma Moore
Darren – Nick Preston
Dad – Joel Morris
Mum – Micaiah Dring
Stacey – Lisa Terry
Security Guard – Macs Mclean
Shop Manager – Aman Toor
Lad in Pub – Rudi Mulvaney
Shopkeeper – Daseplate

Teenagers in Park:
Alissia Di Cosmo;
Eve Greensmith;
Ella May;
Omari Stez;
Ashley Goodger;
Jahdiyah David;
Sonny Cross
Soup Kitchen Worker – Sue Curson
Emmanuel House Support Worker – Hannah Byrne

Thanks to:
Rosie Needham-Smith
Hannah Byrne
Nick Sterrett
Curtis Powell
Royal Children Pub
King Billy Pub
Kandola News
Avarni Bilan
Lukas Cole