A Luton lad who left town with a burning ambition to succeed in the film and theatre business has returned in triumph.
Former Leagrave High student Paul Vitty, 33, has made his directorial debut to critical acclaim. His first feature film, Romeo and Juliet, was shown to industry professionals at the prestigious Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and received high praise for its humour, tension and powerful performances.
It’s a modern take on the Shakespeare classic, edited down to just under two hours and set in 1950s Britain.
Paul says: “I wanted to create something that engages an audience. I wanted them to forget about the Bard and instead be gripped by the action.
“Shakespeare didn’t write for wealthy audiences, he wrote about real people with complex and conflicting emotions we can all recognise in ourselves.
“I wanted to show how a movie, with its intimacy of the lens, could give us a unique understanding of characters we’ve all heard of but that never fully felt were real.
“Romeo and Juliet are played by actors who are not teenagers but who embody that spirit. We watch their innocence, then their desperate attempts to assert themselves and take control over their destiny.”
Paul – who founded The Luton Youth Festival, chairs local arts charity LYWAG and plays Mercutio in the film – believes Daisy Watts and James Paul Taylor as the star-crossed lovers bring a contemporary edge to the traditional story.
He says: “Their tragedy lies in the same naive impetuous emotions we all feel when we’re young and in love for the first time.”
Paul made his directorial debut at primary school. He recalls: “It was a play about a cat and a mouse and it made me believe it was something I could do.”
Fast forward a couple of decades and that prospect has become a reality.
> Visit www.romeoandjulietmovie.co.uk