The Chase is the directorial debut of Black Country actor Sam Malley, who has starred in an array of theatre shows and films, including Jonathan Hodgson’s BAFTA-winning short Roughhouse.
Featuring a cast and crew from across the West Midlands, Sam’s fast-paced 37-minute pilot has already attracted five-star reviews.
“Expect twists and turns. If you like action then this is for you. The Chase focuses on hitmen-like characters. But with the work they do, comes the consequences in their personal lives,” the 24-year-old tells Weekend.
The inspiration for The Chase came from two of his favourite action film franchises – The Matrix and John Wick.
“I have always admired the way those films created characters that feel so real to the audience and that you can feel the emotion they are expressing and the choices they make.
“I wanted to make The Chase like that. Make it something where the audience feels the rush of the chasing and fighting, but also relate to the characters and feel immersed in their journey. Just like they do in watching John Wick. You’re rooting for the guy because you connect with him and his narrative.
“Then with The Matrix, I used the inspiration of two worlds, just like the red and blue pill situation. But with my project, it is choosing a job that serves underneath normal society and acts in the shadows.
“The idea for the concept itself came after I had the opportunity to perform a devised piece of stage combat for Birmingham Weekender.
“It was an event called Culture Catwalk and was produced by my girlfriend, Grace Smith. I used the story I made for that performance to inspire the narrative for The Chase,” says Sam, who also works as a binman in Sandwell. His acting career first began in 2013 when he was part of The Crescent Theatre’s Christmas production; Fantastic Mr Fox.
He went on to perform in the following season at The Crescent in productions; Lord of the flies and The Witches, which was his first lead role.
“I knew after performing these shows that acting was the career path I wanted to take. Following my stint at The Crescent, I ventured into the Birmingham film scene.
“Starting with a small extra role in a web-series I have then gone onto playing lead roles, being part of a BAFTA-winning film and also moving into the production and creative side too as a writer and director,” explains Sam, who lives in Smethwick.
It has taken two years to bring The Chase to life and it was filmed at a variety of different locations around the region.
“I produced it with no budget, it is a passion project so paying for locations was not an option for me. I sought to use locations that were convenient and easily accessible. The project was mainly filmed around Birmingham.
“We filmed in Snow Hill train station, above the Five Ways Island in an apartment, behind Cannon Hill park, my own house in Smethwick and some of the cast members also. But the biggest location was the requirement of a warehouse. I was fortunate enough that one of the actors’ dads allowed us the use of the warehouse he operates in. The use of networks was key for this project to allow us to have locations that would serve the purpose of the story,” says Sam. He worked with Nisaro Karim and Idriss Assoumanou, who are based in the Birmingham area, to produce the pilot.
“This was essential for me, having my cast and crew from the West Midlands, as I wanted to represent the talent of my home. I had a fantastic music composer in Yunus Khan and a brilliant, diverse cast. Angus Villiers-Stuart plays the antagonist with Liam Wadsworth being his henchman. I also have Andre Pierre, who plays a character that you question where his loyalty lies. I also have myself and Nisaro who plays the two leads, followed by Tamsin Hunt, Ben Thorne, Savannah Gallo, Jacob Wright and Susannah May. As well as the cast, I had great make up artists, an additional editor, an animator, sound designer etc. I had so much support on this pilot and I can’t thank everyone enough for their patience and hard work over the past two years,” says Sam.
The project has been a labour of love for the actor who says the writing process and directing the action gave him the most enjoyment.
“It was the first time that I had written a screenplay and it was amazing to see it being acted out in front of me. I went through many scripts, which challenged my creativity and ways to write a story, but in the end it was all worthwhile. To top it off, being able to direct for the first time and learn whilst on the go was a great experience. It was thrilling being on the other end of the camera and use my skills to shape a scene and make it better,” Sam tells Weekend.
He has been overwhelmed by the response to The Chase which has also received rave reviews from the world of film.
“We have had great reactions so far. We had previews with the cast and crew which went down a treat, which for me was key. To have your cast and crew like the project means it will get shared much more and also, their time and energy were well spent evidently. The Chase has received 5* reviews, praise from some of Birmingham’s big film-makers and also been selected for two festivals. That is just to start. We still have more to come,” says Sam.
Now he is keeping his fingers crossed that the project attracts enough attention from the industry for a full series to be commissioned. “My hopes are that we can get this into a room with executives and pitch it to be made into a fully-fledged series. This is a concept pilot which is to show that there is room for growth and hopefully producers will see that.
“We are building up a marketing pack which will show reactions our pilot has been making. My ultimate goal is to have The Chase televised on national TV. Of course, the name will change. I don’t want Bradley Walsh coming after me,” he tells Weekend.
To view the trailer go to https://bit.ly/TheChaseTrailer and to find out more out more about the project see https://www.instagram.com/fightclub_production.
Anyone wanting to watch the full pilot can contact Sam @Sam_Malley96 on Instagram or Twitter