Award-winning company Caged Bird present a film about depression, living in a small town, and... cars? This love letter to the North of England sees a young man pushed to make the unsafe choice for the first time in his life - by joining a high-octane race on the country roads. This is a story about growing through mental illness, getting back in the driver's seat, and carrying on.
Hi there! We're Caged Bird, but as individuals, our names are Jasper and Patrick. Pleased to meet you!
We're here to crowdfund for our exciting, ambitious proof of concept short film about mental health, living in a small town and... cars? We'll explain.
The North of England is the backdrop for 'PETROL HEAD'. Specifically, a small country town where you need a car to have any freedom at all.
Then there’s JAKE. He’s moved back here after finishing studying, he’s gone through a breakup, his family recently suffered a tragedy, and he can’t drive.
His world has just gotten a lot smaller, and it has sent his mental health into serious decline. Now he lives with his Dad again, who can’t begin to understand why he's hurting. Jake is in fight or flight, torn between hiding his struggle from his dad and feeling like his head is about to burst into flames.
Until he reconnects with YAS, an old friend from school who has spent years immersing herself in a group of petrolheads. She thinks this community can help pull him out of his depression, but there’s a catch - it means getting him to join a very high-stakes racing event.
In other words, he has to make an unsafe choice.
We've got some pretty incredible people on our team.
Miguel Cármenes is our Director of Photography. He shot the acclaimed Bold is Back film for McLaren, which, if you're familiar with it, is a pretty big deal.
On top of that, he recently shot Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins - the newest entry in a major franchise. So, with a track record of making cars and action look beautiful, he's someone we're very proud to have.
But this driving can't look like a car ad. We’re here to give you a visceral, thrilling experience - the feeling of gravel being spun around you, unnerving velocity and sitting close to the ground, anticipating the next sharp turning. Because that’s what makes our characters grow in this movie.
That's why we've got Jim Topliss on board as our Stunt Cinematographer.
He's shot for Red Bull, and is a master of car rigs, drones and all things action. With him and Miguel, we know we can make the driving feel precarious and edge-of-your-seat immersive. In short - he's going to help us make Tokyo Drift in the countryside.
As for us - we’re Patrick and Jasper! We’re directing this film together. Patrick wrote it.
We’ve been making films, theatre shows and other creative projects since we were at school, and now we run an award-winning film and theatre company. It's called Caged Bird.
Jasper trained in directing at Mountview, Patrick trained in writing at the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama. We’ve sold out theatres across the UK with our work, and gained lovely reviews across the board (not to mention the Audience Favourite Award at Camden Festival in 2018, from Stagedoor). Basically, we’ve been told we know what we’re doing, but what matters more is that we love it more than anything else. It's what we're best at, and we could do it forever.
And so far we’ve done it without crowdfunding. But this project is the biggest we’ve ever done. We can’t make it without your help.
Other crew members - assemble!
PRODUCER - Neal McAndrew
Neal is the Producer of Petrol Head, and a writer from Liverpool. One of the BFI's 2021 Creative Producers, he's our powerhouse secret weapon without whom none of this would be possible. His most recent short film, Beast of Burden is currently on the festival circuit, and he has recently wrapped on a new short, Homecoming that is currently awaiting completion. He is also COO of DLM Media, a company that specialises in film and audio production and distribution.
PRODUCTION DESIGN/SET DRESSING/COSTUME AND PROP-MAKING - Riot Rogers
Riot Rogers is a designer and prop maker from London. A graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, she also has over 10 years of experience in costume making and has worked as a freelance costume maker and seamstress for over 5 years. She now works primarily as an independent creator, producing small batch collections in limited one-off runs. She also produces online content for Twitter, Youtube and Patreon, including prop and clothing tutorials for beginners looking to create for their own enjoyment.
If we raise the money, we’ll of course be expanding this team. Particularly the cast - including some names you may recognise! This is just the start of the journey.
Action movies always take place in cities. The North is always shown as dreary and boring. Let’s kill two birds with one stone.
Of the many films and directors that inspire Petrol Head, these are the Big Five:
- The energetic, frenetic feel of the racing in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. In Tokyo Drift, the cars felt like characters in their own right. Since, Fast and Furious has drifted (ehem) away from pure petrol head culture - we wanted an excuse to drag it back.
- The anxious intensity and claustrophobia of the Safdies’ movies Good Time and Uncut Gems.
- The taut coming-of-age arc and strained parent-child relationship of Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird
- The earthy, wild backdrops of Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin and Green Room.
- The introspective, subtly anxious character of Oliver Tate from Submarine
Sound good to you? It does to us.
These elements are all incredibly close to our hearts - put them together, and we know ‘PETROL HEAD’ will be completely gripping and unlike any other film you’ve seen.
Initial storyboards for the flare race
Good question. We’re asking for £12,000 of our total budget (£20,109).
Here’s a quick breakdown of what that buys:
Camera, lighting and a lowloader for the racing scenes
The acting talent to tell the story
Insurance - there are a fair few cars on our set!
Locations, transport, and feeding the whole team for 4 days
A diverse crew - we've pulled in favours from some friends and colleagues so far, but for the remaining crew, we are committed to paying everybody fairly. And where there's fair pay, there has to be equal opportunities. Period.
Fortunately, we’ve managed to secure a lot of stuff/people’s time with huge discounts, and are fortunate to have some private investment making up the remainder of our budget (£8,109).
This film comes from an incredibly personal place. And we’re running out of time to make it.
There is a hugely prevalent driving culture present in the North of England. Inspired by this, Patrick started writing ‘PETROL HEAD’ in 2017. The issue is, petrol and diesel are getting phased out by 2030. Rightly so - but drivers won’t be able to modify their vehicles anymore. Petrolheads are part of a rapidly dwindling community.
Initial storyboards for the race
Patrick's script sat in a drawer for a while - he felt it was missing that key piece that would make it connect with an audience. Then, we both finished training, ready to go out into the industry... and the pandemic hit. Like many others, we had to move back to our family homes.
This horrible feeling of taking a step back landed on us. We kept thinking: I flew the nest already. I’m an adult now. Why do I feel so anxious taking a step back in time to my childhood bedroom?
Turns out this is a real issue. It’s called ‘The Boomerang Trend’. And it has a huge negative effect on mental health.
There are vast numbers of adults who are forced to keep living with their parents even past their 30s. Suddenly we’d found that missing piece.
Coming-of-age films are always about teens. But growing up is a long process - it goes beyond leaving college, getting that first job, moving out. There are trips and steps back along the way, and sometimes you end up back where you started. What if Lady Bird left college, and ended up living with her mother again?
‘PETROL HEAD’ is about getting back in the driver’s seat, and, by yourself, making the unsafe choice to carry on.
Despite being written as a complete story in its own right, ‘PETROL HEAD’ also serves as a proof of concept for a feature film. Here we experience the massive leap of faith it takes to leave your comfort zone, but there’s a lot more of the story that follows Jake’s difficult path of growth. How his desperation to flee his home leads him into strained relationships with his family, Yas, and himself. How can someone go from rock bottom, to obsessive and fixated on transcending their roots?
All racing scenes will be driven by character and the growing tensions between Yas and Jake.
This feature would unravel Jake’s emotional journey as well as Yas’s parallel journey in the story. Your support would not only help us to make this short film, but would springboard us into exploring a richer story about coming of age, climbing out of mental health lows, and readjusting to life.
And as we said, we’re running out of time to make this story a reality - so there is a real urgency to get the feature made too!
And that’s it! Thank you for your donations! It truly means everything.
Have a great day! :)
PETROL HEAD is so proud to be partnered with TOYO TIRES, official tires of the Fast and Furious films! And we have an incredible NEW REWARD for you as we enter the LAST WEEK of our campaign.
We can't believe it, but 1 of our 5 available Executive Producer credits has been taken! We are completely blown away and over the moon to know that you guys care about this project as much as we do.
Thank you everyone who has donated so far! We're now halfway through our campaign and incredibly close to 40% of our goal! These last two weeks are going to be essential, so please do consider giving whatever you can - anything and everything will help us get our dream film made.