The film premiere of ‘American Assassin: Redux’ took place on May 18 to a small crowd at Croydon’s Matthew’s Yard.
The premiere formed part of Croydonites Festival, an event that started in 2015 to showcase the work of artists all over the UK and provide a platform for theatre and performance makers based in Croydon.
Returning from a walking tour of Croydon’s film spots, the anticipation was high as the audience eagerly awaited film director Richard DeDomenici’s four-and-a-half-minute long remake of Michael Keaton’s 2017 action thriller, ‘American Assassin’.
Croydon is a hub for film locations, and in the recent past scenes of Christian Bale in ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012) were filmed in Croydon, as was a scene from ‘Made In Dagenham’ (2010).
At the time of filming the American Assassin remake, Netflix show Black Mirror had also begun shooting scenes for their latest series in St George’s Walk.
Director Richard DeDomenici revealed why he decided to do a remake of American Assassin.
He said: “Croydon has a broad cinematic heritage but I realised that the first film that I wanted to redux — the New York scenes from Velvet Goldmine — would have been a bit boring.
“American Assassin involves much more action and a bigger cast. Also, I kinda fell in love with the brutalist emptiness of St George’s Walk.
“I hope they don’t knock it down!”
There were also some challenges the cast faced when filming the Redux project.
Richard said: “There were a lot of buses to contend with – some of which made it into the final cut.
“Also, those pedestrian barriers by the zebra crossing weren’t there in the original film and made some of the camera moves impossible!”
Director and creator of Croydonites Festival, Anna Arthur, revealed the inspiration behind the festival was to help make Croydon a destination for high quality theatre and performance. She emphasised that London is great for theatre, but none of it was visible in Croydon.
Anna said: “I think every town needs an experimental festival.
“It’s important because theatre and live arts are a great way to bring people together and offer them unifying experiences.”
She added: “Theatre is such a strong part of our culture and now more than ever, when people spend half their life staring into their phones, it’s vital for them to have ‘real’ experiences.
“I hope it’s having a positive impact on Croydon, it’s certainly being noted in theatre circles around London that we are up to something!”
Anna also took part in the remake of American Assassin Redux project and admitted to being quite apprehensive about seeing herself on screen.
She said: “I guess I’m looking forward to seeing how Richard brings it altogether, it doesn’t seem quite possible somehow.”
She added: “I loved doing the Redux, it was a great chance to be silly and meet new people.”
Behind the scenes of American Assassin: Redux
I was a part of the Redux project with 13 castmates for the remake of the four-minute clip.
The original big budget thriller, American Assassin was set in Istanbul but a major scene of the film (that we remade) was filmed in St George’s Walk, Croydon, with the town centre being transformed into a Turkish quarter.
I play the role of the American Assassin’s accomplice.
I was not sure how much of my acting skills would be required as I have never taken part in a production like this before. Would I have to rehearse any lines? Fortunately, for me, there were no lines that I needed to remember, I simply had to take direction from Richard which made the process run smoothly and was able to pull off not being a complete bag of nerves.
Behind the scenes of Redux, the cast and crew got to work to recapture the essence of the original film. To recreate an atmospheric Istanbul, that could replicate the original work, cast members brought their own costumes and props. Armed with a banana, a bag of ice, hookah and some fake blood, we filmed 67 shots for the short film. We recreated scenes of mayhem with glass smashing using ice, a banana to replicate a hand gun (for safety reasons) and fake blood for a murder scene.
There was a number of passer-bys who were understandably curious about what we were filming. Most notably, was Mustafa Egah who ended up taking part in the production. This definitely added to the spontaneity of our filming.
On the night of the film premiere, as we took our seats in the auditorium for the premiere of the film, I too, couldn’t help but feel a little bit apprehensive.
It was a moment of nerves, my palms slightly clammy as my acting debut was about to be screened to a room full of people. But I must admit, after watching the screening, it was great to see the final cut and how impressive the production came together. It was a great experience and working with everyone involved in the project was truly memorable.