UK 2023, 84 mins
Director: Charlotte Regan

The debut feature of Charlotte Regan, best known for her award-winning shorts and music videos, is a triumphant comedy-drama with a lot of heart and a splash of magic. After her beloved mother passes away, 12-year-old Georgie believes she can get by on her own. Scrappy and resourceful, she steals bikes with her best friend Ali. She definitely has no interest in getting to know her absentee father Jason, who drops into her garden one day – and back into her life.

With Scrapper, Regan is firing on all cylinders, presenting a refreshingly upbeat and vibrant spin on the working-class family drama. Charismatic newcomer Lola Campbell brings bounding energy and terrific comic timing as the irrepressible Georgie, while Harris Dickinson delivers an equally fun and empathetic turn as Jason, a man desperately trying to find his feet as a dad. It’s a sweet journey that will leave you wishing you could stay longer in Regan’s world.
Kimberley Sheehan, Film and Events Programmer,

Writer-director Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper is set and shot in the Limes Farm housing estate in Chigwell, Essex, and centres on 12-year-old Georgie, who has lost her mother to an unnamed illness, and whose father appears to be out of the picture. Such location and story fundamentals might lead viewers to expect a Loachian kitchen-sink drama, especially when the film opens with Georgie hoovering and then trying to steal a bike to the stirring sound of ‘Turn the Page’, one of the Streets’ most urgent working-class anthems. But Regan’s preferred realism is magical rather than social.

Georgie, played with remarkable assurance by newcomer Lola Campbell, is happy to spend her summer mooching around the estate with her pal Ali (another impressive street-cast debutant, Alin Uzun). When social services phone to check in, the wily girl plays audio snippets recorded by a friendly shopkeeper pretending to be her uncle. It’s a mark of her resourcefulness; she also imagines spiders conversing in the style of characters from an ‘80s computer game, setting the tone for creative asides throughout, which also include her repeatedly conjuring a mighty tower of scrap (hence the film’s title). She seems to be coping well with the loss of her mother when a young man (Harris Dickinson) leaps over the back fence and strolls into garden with the gait and garb of a burglar, only to introduce himself to her and Ali as Jason, her long-absent father.

The children are initially sceptical of Jason – in one of the film’s lively formal flourishes, Georgie imagines him as a vampire, then a prisoner, then a gangster – and understandably wonder where he has been for years (Spain, apparently). Soon, though, Georgie warms to her father, enlisting him as a sentry when she attempts another bike theft. It turns out that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree: when Jason tries unsuccessfully to pick a lock, it’s clear he’s as inept at crime as his daughter. When the pair run away from police, who’ve spotted them, Georgie loses her phone – which contained precious images of her mother – and, evidently in unresolved grief, beats up another girl while looking for it.

There are echoes of Paper Moon (1973) in the father-daughter criminal partnership and the film’s sheer sense of fun. Scrapper is also reminiscent of Aftersun (2022), especially in scenes where Georgie and her dad adopt silly voices and pretend to be a couple with a failing marriage. This sense of humour and the charm of Georgie’s flights of fantasy elevate this feature debut above many of its peers.
Lou Thomas, Sight and Sound,, 29 January 2023

Charlotte Regan was 15 when she started shooting no-budget music promos for rapper mates in Islington, north London. Back then, she had no interest in becoming a director. ‘I wanted to be in the music industry, but I wasn’t cool enough to rap,’ she remembers laughing. Since then, she’s made over 200 music videos. In 2016, her debut short Standby premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, then went on to win a prize at Sundance, and to be nominated for a BAFTA. Regan followed up Standby with Fry-Up and Dodgy Dave, both nominated at a number of festivals including Sundance and Berlin, and in 2020, was selected as a Screen ‘Star of Tomorrow’.

When she did finally get round to thinking about a feature debut, Regan knew that she wanted to make a different kind of film about working class Britain – one that reflected the truth of her childhood. ‘I wanted it to be joyful and funny. I’ve seen films about working class lives where the characters get one minute of happiness in the whole film, where no one is funny, everyone’s miserable. But that wasn’t my experience.’

Spending part of her childhood living with her gran in a north London tower block, Regan remembers it like a playground or a holiday camp. ‘Hanging out with your mates on the same street every day is magic. Everyone looked out for each other. I wanted that working class community feeling, grannies sitting on balconies drinking cups of tea and watching the kids.’

Scrapper is the story of 12-year-old Georgie, who is secretly living on her own after the death of her mum. The idea of writing a story about a child grieving came to Regan after her own experience of grief, losing family members over the past three years. Scrolling through YouTube she kept coming across videos of kids talking about the loss of their parents. ‘They just had such a beautiful outlook on it. They were so in the moment. I think we adults could improve ourselves by trying to be a bit more like kids during those moments.’

Regan conceived the plot almost like a coming-of-age story in reverse. At the beginning of the film, Georgie is trying her best to be an adult, convincing anyone who’ll listen that she’s doing okay. ‘She almost acts like an old lady,’ observes producer Theo Barrowclough. ‘She knows exactly what laundry liquid to use, how to clean this or that. Then, over the course of the film, she allows herself to be a vulnerable child again.’
Production notes

Directed by: Charlotte Regan
©: Scrapper Films Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, The British Film Institute
a DMC Film production
Developed with the support of : Creative England through the BFI Net.Work
Developed with the assistance of: BBC Film
Made with the support of the: BFI’s Film Fund
Presented by: BFI, BBC Film
in association with: Great Point Media
International Sales: Charades
Executive Producers: Eva Yates, Farhana Bhula, Michael Fassbender, Conor McCaughan, Daniel Emmerson, Jim Reeve
Produced by: Theo Barrowclough
Post-production Supervisor: Nadiya Luthra
First Assistant Director: Joe Starrs
Script Supervisor: Daniella Brandano
Casting Director: Shaheen Baig
Written by: Charlotte Regan
Director of Photography: Molly Manning Walker
Visual Effects: Atomic Arts
Editors: Billy Sneddon, Matteo Bini
Production Designer: Elena Muntoni
Art Director: Gemma Bailey
Costume Designer: Oliver Cronk
Hair and Make-up Designer: Nora Robertson
Main and End Titles by: The Morrison Studio
Colourist: Simone Grattarola
Music by: Patrick Jonsson
Music Supervisor: Phil Canning
Sound Designer: Ben Baird
Production Sound Mixer: Adam Fletcher
Re-recording Mixer: Ben Baird
Stunt Co-ordinator: Jim Dowdall
Publicist: Zoe Flower

Lola Campbell (Georgie)
Alin Uzun (Ali)
Cary Crankson (Mr Barrowclough )
Carys Bowkett (Emily)
Ambreen Razia (Zeph)
Ayokunle Oyesanwo (Kunle)
Ayobami Oyesanwo (Bami)
Ayooluwa Oyesanwo (Luwa)
Freya Bell (Layla)
Jessica Fostekew (Sian)
Asheq Akhtar (Youseff)
Joshua Frater-Loughlin (Josh)
Aysa Uzun, Ezel Uzun (Ali’s little sisters )
Aylin Tezel (Nina)
Tejal Rathore (girl in the street )
Olivia Brady (Vicky)
Harris Dickinson (Jason)
Matt Brewer (suited bloke)
Daniel Burt (young Jason)
Laura Aikman (Kaye)
Harry Sydes (kid 1)
Mitchell Brown (kid 2)
Ramison Bernardo (kid 3)

UK 2023
84 mins

A Picturehouse Entertainment release

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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