Tonight is the premiere of Plan B (aka Ben Drew) directorial debut iLL Manors. The much hyped film tells the story of six interlocking stories all based in the Forest Gate area of London.
Ahead of the films release we caught up with one of the main stars actress, Anouska Mond who plays a Northern girl who escapes an abusive home and ends up living on the streets of London. It isn't long before she is addicted to drugs and has to turn to prostitution in order to fund her habit.
Here Mond tells us about how she prepared for the role, what it was like working with the rapper turned director and why she thinks everyone will learn something from iLL Manors...
How did you land the part of Michelle?
I actually auditioned for the role four years ago after meeting Ben in Camden. At the time I had no idea who he was and had no idea that he was a musician. The audition was for a short film called Michelle which Ben was making in order to try and get funding for the feature film. I got the role, absolutely loved doing it and then a few years later after he had enough money to make it Ben called me and asked me to re-audition for the role.
So you had to re-audition for a role that you'd already played?
Yeh! And not just one interview either, I had to go through six gruelling auditions to get the part.
How much has the character of Michelle changed from the short film to iLL Manors?
The basic morals of the character have remained exactly the same however she goes through way more experiences in iLL Manors so in that respect she's grown quite a lot as her story continues. If anything this time around I wanted to make her stronger and more affected by the environment that she's grown up in.
How did you prepare for playing such a dark role?
I had to do a lot of research in terms of heroine and crack addiction. I actually watched a lot of documentaries and did a lot of research online in order to try and understand people that are in that situation better. I also watched a lot of films and videos on Youtubes where addicts talk about their addictions. Ben actually originally wanted me to spend a night on the streets of King's Cross but luckily the production crew said no due to health and safty reasons.
How much of a challenge was it playing the role?
It was a huge challenge. The character couldn't be more different to me and the environment I grew up in so playing her didn't come easily to me. I had to work hard but I really felt like the role was mine because I knew her so well from the time I spent making the short film.
How did working on iLL Manors compare to other projects you've worked on?
I've been an actress for ten years now on and off but iLL Manors is my first big break. This is my first role in a feature film and obviously working with someone of Ben's caliber was an experience in itself because he's so well known.
How much influence did the cast have over their characters and the way the film turned out?
Ben had a very solid vision of how he wanted the film to turn out but we all had a lot of rehearsal time together when we did a lot of improvisation which helped us all explore our own characters. The whole thing was a very collaborative experience especially as Ben has acted before so he how to get down on our level and he welcomed all of our input.
What was Ben like as a first time director?
He was extremely dedicated and passionate and he's a complete perfectionist and he wont stop until his visions been realised. I think the fact that he's worked as an actor before means he already had a good understanding of how things worked and that definitely helped him make the move into directing.
Did you have any favourite days on set?
We only had about a month to make the film which is no time at all really but the whole experience was just so incredible, I had to keep pinching myself to make me realise I was working on such a big film. All the cast and crew became very good friends.
What sort of people are going to enjoy the film?
I think it'll appear to any generation both young and old. It's a film that covers a lot of different story lines and issues that aren't necessarily widely reported about in the press on a daily basis so it's something people can learn from. I think that it'll trigger emotion in people and as long as it does that then we've done our job.
iLL Manors is released in UK cinemas on 6th June.