Published on February 28, 2013 | by Rory Moore

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The day Hollywood came to Elephant & Castle

The MA and BA Journalism newsroom was transformed into a police control centre for James McAvoy’s starring turn in Welcome to the Punch [Jackson Jessop]

With its impressive cast, Welcome to the Punch has received a lot of attention from film critics ahead of the productions release.

Quite rightly so: this is the second offering from British-born director Eran Creevy. Prior to his directing debut four years ago, he was working with the likes of Matthew Vaughn, who produced films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking BarrelsSnatch and Layer Cake.

Creevy’s experience in assisting does not stop there: he has also worked with Woody Allen, who many believe to be one of the modern masters of cinema, on Scoop (2006).

Creevy’s production seemingly has all of the necessary pieces in place: a great cast and a strong personal body of previous work. What will really make or break the film is the strength of the storyline and script.

The film has a cast consisting of many familiar faces, including James McAvoy – who is well known for his frequent starring roles in Hollywood films such Wanted and the most recent release from the X-Menfranchise. McAvoy has also starred in many British features such as Atonement and the Last King of Scotland.

Alongside McAvoy is Mark Strong who is equally renowned for his roles on the global film stage. Strong starred in American blockbuster Body of Lies and will be recognised from his more recent part in British BAFTA-award-winning production Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

James McAvoy

The film stars notable Scottish actor James McAvoy [Flickr: gdcgraphics]

About the film

Set in present day London, the film is based around a cat and mouse chase between former criminal Jacob Sternwood – played by Mark Strong – and detective Max Lewinsky played by James McAvoy. Sternwood returns to the UK from his secret Icelandic hideout after a heist involving Sternwood’s son goes wrong.

Sternwood’s return gives detective Lewinsky what might be his only opportunity to catch a man who evaded him the last time they met.

This ongoing rivalry plays out across the duration of the film with the two discovering a deeper conspiracy that they both need to solve in order to survive.

The script certainly does not sound like it will disappoint, with enough twists and turns to keep even the most discerning viewers firmly captivated with its unfolding story threads.

With shots tracking across the London skyline at night, some of the scenes within the film will be familiar to the students of UAL.

There are a number south London landmarks, including the towering Strata building which looms over the London College of Communication campus in Elephant & Castle.

Also, a number of segments from the film were shot within the Media Block of the London College of Communication during the first weeks of August in 2011.

Transforming LCC

The space normally used as the newsroom for the college’s MA and BA Journalism courses was taken over by the films production team and was transformed into a police control centre, while the office of course director Paul Charman was made into a police commander’s office.

The site was selected after the productions location manager Ben Plitz spotted the area while searching for an inner London location. “I contacted the College’s press office after looking at the college through Flickr. The college saw the benefits of letting us film there, as we involved students in the project. Some of these students I have actually worked with later,” says Plitz.

The production team created ten intern positions for students on the college’s BA Film and Television course at the time, which gave them the chance to work on a multi-million pound production, an opportunity which seldom presents itself for many.

One of the students who assisted on set was Joseph Eckworth, and this chance really opened the doors to continuous employment for him. “On days where they needed extra help, they called me in. I was lucky enough to be present while the spectacular ten minute opening sequence was filmed,” says Eckworth.

Having previously only worked on a number of low-budget independent and student productions, working on the set for Welcome to the Punch was a fantastic opportunity for Eckworth to meet the right people within the film business, some of whom had flown straight to London from the set of the 2012 box office smash hit The Dark Knight Rises.

Eckworth went on to say: “A lot of people finish their degree and don’t know what they want to do. The main thing I took away from this experience, besides the finer points of technical working, is that it confirmed how much I wanted to work in film”.

This was the first high budget production to have been filmed within the college’s campus, and following the film’s general release on March 15, it may not be the last.

With the film’s all-star cast and filled storyline being left in the more than capable hands of director Eran Creevy and world-renowned executive producer Ridley Scott, Welcome to the Punch is bound to fill the seats of a cinema near you soon.

 

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