Son of Stratford lines up cocaine-fuelled corruption for screen
- Credit: Archant
Crime thriller Hyena is set to hit theatres on Friday.
The corruption grime-fest, which debuted at Edinburgh Film Festival in June, depicts a police officer selling the spoils of his Notting Hill drug busts.
East London-born director Gerard Johnson hopes it shows the reality of corrupt institutions.
“I was trying to make a British cop film, which we don’t really do here. We do a lot of telly but we don’t do cop thrillers,” he said. “And when we’ve seen corrupt police in the past it’s always focused on a loner – it’s never like that in real life – corruption seeps through organisations, politics, everything.”
His film centres on antihero Michael Logan, played by Peter Ferdinando, who was inspired by a raucous undercover police officer Gerard met at a party.
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Logan’s complicated and grotty existence consists of funding and organising cocaine deals he and his task force are supposed to crush.
But soon a turf war between Albanians and Turks threatens to engulf them.
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And they have to contend with Logan’s ex-partner David Knight, played by Stephen Graham, who is called in for a clampdown that threatens to blow the lid on the station’s coke-coarsened depravity.
“Viewers are going to get the opposite of 50 Shades of Grey,” laughed Gerard. “They’re going to see a side of London they’re not used to.”
Gerard believes early exposure to crime aided his portrayal.
His father owned the Two Puddings in Stratford – a pub so bloodied by brutality it was nicknamed the “Butcher’s Shop”.
“I try to base all of my work on real-life experiences instead of films,” explained Gerard. “Rather than looking at examples of cop films, I did four years of research with corrupt police.”
Gerard also met with victims of human trafficking, a problem explored in the film as Logan struggles to protect the sexually-expoited Ariana.
“With issues like human trafficking, it’s important to get the facts right,” said Gerard. “The girl who became to basis for the Ariana character had such a harrowing story – it was important to represent that properly.”
In his bid for accuracy and realism, Gerard chose not to use any sets in Hyena, which is all shot on location.
“I never use sets in films,” he said. “If you’re filming on a set then it’s already an illusion – with subjects like this it’s important not to remove reality.”