No Dog // Film (30')Narrative
No Dog // Film (30')
NO DOG is a short film based on the critically acclaimed autobiography The Lost Boyz — A Dark Side of Graffiti by Justin Rollins. It's due to be released early 2021.
Told through the eyes of a young Justin Rollins, the film sheds light on the squandered youth of a few boys from late 1990s South London. Spanning three days in the boys’ lives, we journey with them as they surround themselves with urban chaos, graffiti, racism, train-tracks, violence and the need for respect.
Where adolescence is hard enough to deal with, add in an unstable home, racism and lack of belonging, and we begin to feel what it is like to be a young Justin Rollins, filled with mental torture.
The film in no way justifies the behaviours of the main protagonists, but goes some way towards explaining the rationale of their actions by subconsciously raising questions about youth violence and its connection to a lack of youth activities. Its relevance today is unquestionable — UK government funding to youth services was cut by 70% in 2019.
This sense of family evolved into gang life, and before too long, Justin and his friends were filling their voids at home with their new family out on the streets of south London.
The London graffiti scene hasn’t been explored in British cinema. It’s a hidden world that to those that don’t know it, is full of intrigue. Visually arresting imagery of train yards and train tracks at night was where Justin and his gang felt most comfortable. Right under the feet of the everyday person, there was a whole world of hedonism taking place. To you and I a tag is simply ugly vandalism, but to these kids, it means so much more. It is their whole world.
Where No Dog is a small window into that world, the feature to follow — The Lost Boyz — will show it in its entirety. Shedding light on the lengths kids go to to get their tag up, and the dangers that go with it…
…What began as something fairly mindless, naturally grew into gang rivalry and turf war.
Fashion is so important when trying to feel like you are part of a scene. And graffiti was no different.
Late 90s fashion was as important to Justin and his gang as the area he was from. Wearing brands like Moschino, Gap, Kickers or Avirex gave them all their sense of identity.
No Dog Films collaborated with Wavey Garms on No Dog to help recreate the styling of the late 90s/early 2000s. Wavey garms are experts in that era, having styled People Just Do Nothing. On reading the script, Wavey Garms — who themselves come from the world of graffiti — jumped straight on board.
HELPING THE YOUTH
What makes No Dog special is the way the production of the film was carried out. We learned at an early stage that this film cannot be cast in the traditional way. To have someone play a kid who lived on the street and led a gang, we were instinctively drawn to street casting.
Director Darius Norowzian had previously built a relationship with the boxing charity Carney’s Community from Battersea, South London through his previous powerful short film Born A Believer — a film about the boxing charity Carney’s Community who help ex-offenders and disaffected youths turn their lives around by breaking the cycle of gang life. Together with producer Todd Von Joel — who also has roots at Carneys Community— it was decided that a call out would be done to offer to the anyone from the charity an opportunity to be part of the film.
What came back was beyond amazing. The true story of the film resonated so much with so many of the kids. Especially the film’s rising star Tyler Brindle.
Not only did we find our main protagonist, opportunities and work experience was given to other Carney’s Community members. If nothing more, as a social enterprise, the project has been a success.
No Dog serves as a preview into the world of the potential feature film The Lost Boyz, a project still in the making.