Article by Tanavi Patel
Alongside powerhouses DC and Marvel, new superhero content is currently emerging from all kinds of other outlets. It’s heaven for fans of the genre and the trend it’s inspired a group of British comic book fans to bring superheroes to London in a new online TV series called The Few. BUZZ went along to the set to find out what it’s all about, and whether we should be afraid for our capital city!
The producers had chosen an impressive location for their pilot shoot – outside the houses of Parliament, and as I pitched up showrunner Sam Benjamin was preparing with the crew to shoot the first scene.
Set in modern day London, the show focuses on a trio of vulnerable people: Christian (played by Vincent Jerome), wha homeless ex-soldier; Anna (Rachael Holoway), a university student-turned-lab rat; and mysterious ex-bad girl Jamie (Kyla Frye). After volunteering to take part in a medical trial they discover that they’ve developed special powers.
“It’s set at a time when Britain is facing a whole new kind of challenge,” Benjamin explains. “Our character Christian believes the government is imploding, we’re overpopulated and there’s social unease, because we’ve lost control. He believes they are the chosen ones to take the country forward.”
Benjamin created the show alongside film-maker Sam Bradford. It’s certainly a passion project for the two comic book fans.
“We both saw Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and started talking afterwards about the premise of a British superhero universe. We wanted to make something realistic and grounded in terms of sci-fi realism. Then we thought what if it’s just three people affected by this one thing, but they’re all in different places in their lives and they’re very different people?
“Exactly one year after the medical trial they all start to notice strange things happening to them, and the story picks up just after this point and it’s about what’s going to happen next; how’s the world going to find out about them, are they going to have good intentions or bad intentions?”
Sam describes the tone of the series as similar to Burton’s Batman, dark but with light moments. The show also emphasises its British roots through symbolism, dialogue and some beautiful famous backdrops, including Big Ben. “We wanted to showcase London, and we think that will appeal to an international audience.”
The team has also tried to create a more cosmopolitan show. “All the superhero universes are so full of white men, because they were created in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s; if you’re writing it in today’s London it’s not going to be like that is it? So we wanted to make it inclusive and diverse, and create some powerful roles for women because a) that’s the real world, and b) it’s not done enough.”
There will be six mini-episodes in the first series, ending in a big showdown. Director Phil Thomas explains they were using the same family of cameras that was used to shoot The Revenant, giving high quality realistic images.
Meeting Rachael Holoway on set, it’s clear she’s enjoying the shoot. “Who doesn’t want to be a superhero or super villain right? Anna is completely lost – she ultimately became a lab rat. That’s where her life was going until Christian intervenes and she finds camaraderie with him. She’s vulnerable, easily persuaded and I think it’s safe to say she gets pretty mean!”
BUZZ then meets actor Vincent Jerome, who plays Christian. He is also a comic book nerd and admitted to practising his superhero power move at home. “I had to trim it a little for the shot but it looks good, though I think I may have strained something in my face!”
Surprisingly Jerome didn’t envision himself as a superhero as a kid. “My heroes growing up on TV were white, so subconsciously I never thought about myself being in this genre, but the opportunity to do it is just wonderful.”
The crew all being friends gave the set a warm atmosphere. Benjamin and Jerome have a regular “coffee and comics day”. Benjamin and Holoway reminisced about filming Hewlett Packard ads together, spending a whole day in parallel lifts trying to synchronise their ascent!
“Sam and I hit it off instantly whilst working together on a short film as we’re both big Batman geeks” Bradford explains, “and we found we had lots in common apart from the name an initials. After watching Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice we had an itch to scratch and in the course of a day and night The Few was born.”
He will be directing the finale showdown, which he is a little nervous about. “It will be tricky as it’s the first time all the powers will be in play.”
So what does he love so much about superheroes? “Everyone goes for Batman because he’s technically not a superhero but he’s as cool as one. I’ve got a soft spot for Wolverine; I don’t know if that’s because I’m kind of hairy like the dude? I think he’s interesting because everyone thinks his claws are his power, but it’s not, it’s his power to regenerate and he’s a tortured soul; I’m a sucker for a storyline like that. My opinion changes all the time especially now as so many are in movies and TV. Deadpool is my favourite at the moment.”
Benjamin is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright, but when he’s not creating superheroes he is acting in some fantastic shows like Peaky Blinders, and the upcoming season of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man. He will also feature on The Few as Detective Steve Douglas, a voice of reason trying to enlist Kyla’s Jamie Scott to prevent the others from going rogue.
So how does he compare this project with other British super-powered offerings like Stan Lee’s Lucky Man and Misfits?
“Misfits was an allegory for those who have fallen out of the system, tackling adolescent issues. The tone of Lucky Man is amazing – a really good mix of crime procedural with a splash of comic book. The Few is unapologetically comic-book; without giving too much away they all have different powers, affected by their personalities. You’ll have to watch and find out!”
But will Parliament will still be standing at the end?
Follow @thefewseries and @sambenjaminnow on Twitter for more behind-the-scenes info and series news.