A time before festivals became commercial and were attended by people who wouldn’t dream of leaving their tents behind.
A modern take on classic English whimsy.
Sample scenes (click to open in a new tab)
WORKING TITLE The kindness of strangers, learners and white van men
FILM GENRE Slice of life dramedy
LENGTH 100 minutes
TARGET AUDIENCE teenagers and upwards
TAGLINE Do you sit still or squat?
Two young squatters take over a deceased vagrant’s camp in the centre of a busy roundabout, initially enjoying the kindness of passing motorists who appreciate the “art” they place on the roadside, but the kindness turns to anger when the couple are blamed for a fatal car crash.
THE ONE PARAGRAPH
Two young squatters are convinced by their wheeler-dealer friend to take over a deceased vagrant’s camp in the centre of a busy roundabout, and as long as they look after his “gear”, they can use what they need. The couple make money by storing some of the gear on the edge of the roundabout and passing it off as art, much to the pleasure of passing motorists, but their island paradise becomes a warzone when heavy traffic jams lead to road rage. A fatal crash is indirectly blamed on the squatters and, after suffering revenge attacks and falling out with everyone they know, the squatters have to choose whether to stay and fight for what they believe in or to head off down the road to an uncertain future.
Two young squatters are convinced by their wheeler-dealer friend to take over a deceased vagrant’s camp in the centre of a busy roundabout, and as long as they look after his “gear”, they can use what they need. The camp is soon converted into an “island paradise” featuring (mostly) all mod cons, even though some of the gear looks suspiciously brand new, and their behaviour attract a warning from the local council and a curse from the local Hindu priest. The couple make money by storing some of the gear on the edge of the roundabout and passing it off as art, much to the pleasure of passing motorists, but their island paradise becomes a warzone when heavy traffic jams lead to several road rage incidents. A fatal crash is indirectly blamed on the squatters, who suffer revenge attacks from the relatives and fall out with everyone they know, including their wheeler-dealer friend. As the couple reluctantly prepare to move on down the road to an uncertain future, the vagrant’s former landlord arrives, assuming they are his next of kin, with unclaimed housing benefit that he wants to pass on to them, but to obtain money by deception goes against all their rather hazy principles…though it’s enough money to mean they’d never have to squat again…
Chadders – an experienced new age traveller with a violent past, trying to mellow in his late 20s using whatever convenient philosophy he can find.
Julie – a bright yet naïve young woman who ran away from her disapproving parents to seek a more artistic way of life with her older boyfriend.
Davey – a wheeler-dealing loose cannon and old friend of Chadders who claims he can “get you anything except for a house”.
Merwan – an elderly tracksuited Hindu who likes to jog and translate everything mundane into spiritual terms.
Alan – an officious council representative who wields his pen and clipboard like a sword and shield.
Quentin – an eccentric local landlord who prefers to see money go to good use than be wasted on the rich.
Geoff [spoken of] – a Czechoslovakian tramp who set up camp on a roundabout, possibly as penance for his time in the SS and for mistreating his wife.
THE ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS
As the English summer of 1995 begins, two squatters are forcibly evicted from a swanky townhouse by over-zealous bailiffs. Chadders is a veteran of the new age lifestyle, but his younger lover Julie is fresh out of her disapproving father’s household. Tired of semi-legally occupying other people’s buildings, they take the advice of Chadder’s wheeler-dealer friend, Davey, who suggests they occupy the camp of a recently-deceased vagrant named Geoff. What they don’t know until they get there is that it’s in the middle of a busy roundabout.
Their initial reluctance is swayed by Davey who offers them as many home comforts as he can fit in his filthy old van. As the days become sunnier and Davey’s visits increase, the happy squatters have everything they need – plenty of patio furniture, a crate of factory-rejected disposable BBQ’s, and various electrical items charged by discarded car batteries. Across the busy roundabout traffic there’s a large supermarket for any serious toilet requirements.
Several weeks into their extended stay, Julie becomes angry at the amount of “junk” Davey has stored around her home. He claims he can get them “anything they want, except for a house”, but Julie wonders how much of it came from other people’s houses, and whether they knew about it. Annoyed she hasn’t enough room to paint, she cracks under the summer sun and throws some of Davey’s gear to the edge of the roundabout. When Chadders returns from his daily visit to the supermarket, he is stunned to see the pile of coins around the collection of wedged-together items – it seems the passing motorists appreciated the junk as a piece of art.
Having found her focus, Julie sculpts fresh works from the debris round the camp, proudly displaying them for the passers-by as Chadders gathers up the takings at the end of the day. It’s not long before Davey starts wondering why his gear keeps getting damaged and Chadders becomes concerned they’ve not hidden their stash of money in a safe enough place. As the weeks pass by, Julie’s sculptures become so popular that motorists deviate from their normal route specifically to use the roundabout, causing traffic jams-a-plenty. After breaking up one road rage incident too many, Chadders spots his girlfriend in her tiny bikini and wonders whether she’s the actual work of art the drivers have turned up to compliment.
Things become more and more heated until late one night several teenage joyriders circle the roundabout at high speed and crash their vehicle. Though Chadders and Julie were asleep at the time, suspicious witnesses claim the art was a distraction, indirectly implicating the squatters in the deaths. After suffering revenge attacks by the friends of the victims, Chadders is forced to barricade the “island paradise” as he returns to the violent ways he thought he’d left behind. Even Davey abandons them and takes back as much of his stuff that is still intact, angry at the exposure the couple’s antics brought him and his “trade”.
As the summer sun fizzles out into the first drizzly days of Autumn, Chadders and Julie make the decision to move on to an unknown future on the road. They pack up to leave, but not before rebuilding their relationship with Davey. Just before they depart, a man claiming to be the beneficiary of Geoff’s old landlord arrives, assuming the couple to be his next of kin, and happy to pass on a large amount of unclaimed housing benefit. Struggling with their consciences, they try to decide whether to stick to their principles and not accept charity, or finally give in to the kindness of strangers.
TEN REASONS WHY THIS COULD BE A SUCCESS
- Besides having to stage a traffic jam, the budget for this film would be minimal.
2. Unique situation – two people living on a roundabout has never been portrayed in film before.
3. Small number of characters with strong sense of individuality, covering a wide ethnic and social spectrum.
4. Taps into the ideals of true freedom and being able to go where you please, which always appeals to young people (and free spirits of more advanced years).
5. Classic romance of the older, more experienced male being over-protective of his naïve-yet-feisty younger girlfriend while constantly on the run from strict parents and a disapproving society.
6. Features a lovable rogue of a traveller (who is never directly referred to as such) and the travelling community is a popular theme on television at the moment.
7. Details the ways and often hazy principles of new age travellers without casting judgement on their behaviour, e.g. the practice of squatting is viewed in a positive and negative light.
8. Harks back to an age in recent memory when mobile technology and the internet were yet to dominate all aspects of society.
9. Includes many cultural references to events of the time that are worked into the more humorous moments of the script.
10. The story ends on an uncertain note where the audience is left to decide the outcome themselves based on the evidence presented along the way.
Use the recent legislation on squatters!