“It’s been brilliant!” Warren Dudley tells me. “The community has made this TV show.” He’s talking about Seaside Town, a new mini-series written and directed by him, in conjunction with the Newhaven Regeneration Group (NRG), which airs from the 18th on Amazon Prime.
This project was, in part, inspired by Warren’s recent experience screen-writing The Bromley Boys – a feel-good feature film that was wonderfully received earlier this year, and boasts an IMDb score of 7.8. “People have really, really liked it”, he says. “We had a star-studded Wembley Stadium premiere that was fabulous. And the film was loved in Bromley and the surrounding Kent. It’s always fun, seeing your town on screen – people like picking up on the local references – and the shopping centre was decked out in the football colours specially. It was a lovely, lovely atmosphere.”
So, what led from this to the Newhaven project? “I wanted to bring some of the same magic to my own, old hometown”, says Warren. Seaside Town, the idea, was born from a chat with NRG’s Mark Beaumont. “We were talking about what we’d each been up to in our work, and hatched this plan to do something here, together.”
Unlike The Bromley Boys, it’s not a feature film – it’s a series of six ten-minute episodes – “but it is, again, all about football!” Warren imagines most people will end up watching them in one clump, over an hour or so. Although the episode length was dictated by budget, he says it’s been a really fun format to work with. “Feature films are quite hard to write. You have that middle forty minutes that sag if you’re not careful. Not so here.”
The series features two professional actors – Roger O’Hara and Hannaj Bang-Bendz (pictured) – while the rest of the cast is drawn from Newhaven. “We put out shouts on Facebook for people to send in film auditions. We got a great response – 170 tapes – and cast from there. So it’s an eighty per cent Newhaven-made product.”
Warren also had fun. “I had complete creative freedom, which was lovely. I was just trusted – to do, well, everything really, charging round Newhaven with my little crew. And the locations are beautiful: the old port is lovely, the views, the sea… Though the weather could be a bit hit and miss at times: it was so changeable, we had a few continuity issues!”
Warren grew up in Newhaven, and attended Tideway School. Today “I’ve moved all the way away to Seaford”. But not much has changed since his childhood days. “There’s a lot of development down by the river, but mostly it’s just the same. These places don’t really change”, he says. “And we weren’t aiming to present a grungy old Newhaven – though the joke is there, when an American soccer star gets sent to Newhaven FC – but we wanted to show the area’s beauty. And it wasn’t hard: it really is beautiful, round here.”
Seaside Town is also available on DVD. seasidetown.tv