Private Project

Samuels Trousers

1860s Sheffield, England. The famous Shakespearian actor Samuel Morgan Smith has just finished rehearsals and takes his daily walk through the City Centre and out into the Yorkshire countryside. As always he encounters many fans but something has changed and Samuel is about to play a role that is all too familiar for a Black Man then and now. This film is inspired by the true story of two Black Actors 150 years apart. Starring Martins Imhangbe (Bridgerton)

  • Dawn Walton
    Director
    Omar, A Blues for Nia, Black Magic, Brown Widow, Music in the Bones, Perfume, Parking Wars, Rage, Two-Tone
  • Leah Chillery
    Writer
    Brown Widow
  • James Barrett
    Producer
    London Recruits, Uncle Art, A Change in the Weather, Muck, Blackbird, When the Song Dies, Listening to the Silences
  • Martins Imhangbe
    Key Cast
    "Samuel Morgan Smith"
    Bridgerton, National Theatre Live: The Tragedy of King Richard the Second, The Last British Execution
  • Catherine Derry
    Cinematographer
    Zebra Girl, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, Been So Long, Shamed, Svengali
  • Anisha Fields
    Production Design
    The Caravan, Muck, Blackbird
  • Deb Milner
    Art Direction
    The Last Mermaid
  • Duramaney Kamara
    Composer
  • Laura Spini
    Editor
    Appetite, No 89, A Disappearance, Dumbboat, Undone
  • Waqar Shah
    Sound Recordist
    Property, Sweet Mother, Dragged Up
  • Benjamin Thapa
    Costume Designer
  • Helena Betts
    Make Up and Hair Artist
    Playhouse, The Hunter's Prayer, Purple Heather, United World, Shaandaar
  • Colin Pons
    Associate Producer
    The Acid House, Fanny and Elvis, Blood, Hush, Still Loved
  • Briony Barnett
    Casting
    Dickensian, Outnumbered, What We Did on Our Holiday, The Borderlands, Inside the Mind of Leonardo, Common People
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Genres:
    Drama
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 38 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 27, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    47,500 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 3.2k, Alexa Mini
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton OBE made her first short film at University and it awakened a love of filmmaking. However an award winning career in theatre including founding ECLIPSE, the UK's principal Black-led national production company meant it was nearly 20 years before she was able to dedicate the time to her passion for film.

After winning a commission from The Space(BBC/ACE) , Dawn developed, produced and Directed ‘10by10’ a series of 10 original short film dramas written by 10 black writers from 10 UK cities giving a unique view of Britain on screen (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/aug/29/10by10-drama-akala-bola-agbaje ). After playing in festivals these are now a featured collection on Digital Theatre Plus.

Samuels Trousers is her most ambitious film to date.

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Director Statement

Samuels Trousers is my most ambitious short film to date in shoot time, size of crew, and storytelling style. The film is inspired by two real incidents separated by 150 years.

The first incident happened in 1863 in the life of Samuel Morgan Smith - the 19th Century Black classical actor based in, Yorkshire, England. He was suddenly accused of the theft of a pair of trousers. He had to take to take his accuser, a tailor, to court to clear his name.

The second incident was in London 2013 when actor Daniel Kaluuya sued the Metropolitan Police for assault and false imprisonment after he was wrongly arrested for being a suspected drug dealer an incident that included the pulling down of his trousers in the street.

The fact that both these of these stories involved actors (albeit from different times) was a metaphor for the odd role of performance that Blackness is always negotiating particularly when in trauma what I call “Fight or Polite” decision that Black People often face. I am as interested in showing the internal journey of the character as the physical one.
In Samuels Trousers the two incidents become one incident moving through time with things that happened in contemporary England now happening in 1860s Britain and vice versa.

It was important for me to show that Samuel was excellent at his job and was famous for what he did. His performance later on in the film is not to lose his temper when held in the confined space of the police cell.
Samuel delivers Shylocks speech (The Merchant of Venice) with its talk of revenge and justice foreshadowing Samuels later internal dilemma. The speech is transformed when he goes back to it at the end.

While all the other shorts I have made have been contemporary and shot in one day this one required an aesthetic that could hold various times and spaces. The design was key to the storytelling Transforming 21st century Sheffield into Samuels world – the warmth of the theatre, the city streets and on into the peak district where he meditated and heals. The coolness of the 21st century police interview room.

I commissioned Leah Chillary to write the film as the final work of ‘Revolution Mix’ – a movement I started to deliver the largest amount of new Black British work in theatre film and radio all inspired by 500+ years of Black British history - The hidden British histories.