'Cup of Tea Darling?'. A quintessentially British tale of modern day outlaws. This punchy, adrenaline-fuelled documentary lifts the lid on climate activism and the troublemakers who dare to cross the line. It follows a diverse host of characters (including the tea maker) as they blockade factories and glue themselves to trading floors of international banks. Offering unprecedented access to the secretive world of the UK’s environmental activists.
"We're sticking two fingers up at a multinational corporation profiting from climate change", one 'domestic extremist' explains, as the group occupy a roundabout in a makeshift camp. "We need you to leave the site in 5 minutes", announces an official. "Crumpet anyone?" is the defiant response. The atmosphere quickly sours. "I'm not leaving without my belongings. 4 months I've been here", Marina sobs, as she is eventually manhandled off the site. "Ow, ow, get off me!" The camera tumbles to the ground as the arrests begin.
"The papers have published an image of us using petrol bombs. That's ludicrous. We use bio-diesel" a protester smirks. But behind the irreverent humour lies a serious pragmatism. These people are no dippy hippies. With a careful system of codes and safeguards under the omnipresent eye of police surveillance, they meet to discuss their next operation: blockading the entrance to RBS bank's London HQ. "We soon get over getting arrested and get on with the next job".
The next morning they storm into action: "Our money, our bank!" the crew chant as they clamp on their homemade arm locks, tie their necks to makeshift barricades and unroll their banners. Meanwhile, in a Midlands power station, dozens of police in riot gear prepare themselves for an onslaught. "Stand up and defend our future!" comes the battle cry, as hundreds of protesters pour out of a nearby forest and start tearing down the fencing, hurling themselves at the sea of policemen.
Over in Copenhagen, the police are rather less forgiving of the anarchy. Having welded together bicycles as a barricade, a peaceful march quickly turns nasty. "Why do you have guns?" a young girl asks the police. "We're putting you in the chicken coop" is the frosty response. As the group begin to disband in the chaos, they concede, "in direct confrontation there is no win".
For the more experienced Marina, the question of whether all of this really does any good is a difficult one to answer. For her it is all about overcoming the depressing, "roll over and die" feeling of big decisions being beyond the individual's control. Through a dynamic blend of meetings, manoeuvres and marches, this sunny yet uncompromising documentary shows how, with enough solidarity, inventiveness and, of course, tea, the little guy can still come out smiling.
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Official Selection, Sheffield Doc Fest, 2011
Official Selection, Brancharge Jersey International Film Festival , 2011
Nominated for the Sheffield Green Award, Sheffield Doc Fest , 2011
Official Selection, Colorado Environmental Film Festival, 2012
Official Selection, Wild and Scenic Film Festival , 2012
Official Selection, San Francisco Green Festival, 2012
Left Field Films
|Making the film
In 2008 I was asked by some people who were involved with Plane Stupid to play the role of videographer on a couple of the actions that they did that year. One was stopping a train outside Drax power station and the other was Plane Stupid occupying a runway at Stansted Airport. I had been working on The Age Of Stupid and was known as a film maker who shared their concerns. So I did that and I could immediately see that there was a dynamic community of people doing something very different from what you saw out there and it was quite clear that there was a film to be made, possibly quite an important one.
Emily James studied documentary directing at the National Film and Television School, her student films already winning international awards. After her first broadcast commission; The Luckiest Nut in the World (C4, 2002), the Guardian asserted "Emily James is a genius… and will in time be revered as a television innovator." Following the experimental Don't Worry, (C4, 2004) and What Would Jesus Drive?, (C4, 2006) Emily's attention has now shifted to feature documentaries. Her feature debut, Just Do It – a tale of modern day outlaws screened in over 45 independent cinemas across the UK in Summer 2011, alongside a far-reaching community screenings programme.
Lauren Simpson has extensive experience in broadcast and independent documentary production. She has delivered to the BBC, ITV, Sky1, Al Jazeera and has worked with filmmakers Oliver Hodge, Michelle D’Acosta, James Lees as well as a stint for Universal Films on Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Lauren co-directed 2009’s See: The Brighton Documentary Film Festival. Just Do It is Lauren’s first feature film as a producer.