Home

Turner prize nominated artist Richard Billingham shoots first feature Ray & Liz

Production is underway on Turner-prize nominated and Deutsche Börse Prize winning artist Richard Billingham’s first feature film, Ray & Liz.

 

Filming commenced on the three week shoot on 30 January, with a variety of Black Country locations in and around Cradley Heath and Dudley.

The project has been developed over five years with Producer Jacqui Davies. Working with cinematographer Daniel Landin (Under The Skin), Richard Billingham returns to the striking series of photographs that he captured of his family during Thatcher-era Britain to tell a universal story of everyday conflicts, loneliness, love and loss.

Scenes incorporating the older Ray and Liz, played by Patrick Romer and Deirdre Kelly (UK reality star of Benefits Street and Big Brother) were shot in Cradley Heath, on the estate where Richard Billingham lived, in 2015.

The cast includes Justin Salinger (Everest, Humans) and Ella Smith (The Voices, Kill Your Friends) as the younger Ray and Liz, Tony Way as Uncle Lol. (High-Rise, Sightseers) plus a number of young newcomers playing earlier incarnations of Billingham and his brother Jason as children.

Ray & Liz is a Jacqui Davies Production in association with Rapid Eye Movies. The BFI backed producer Jacqui Davies in making her first theatrical feature, The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers and through its BFI Producer Vision Awards, part of its strategy for supporting emerging producers and filmmaking talent.

Ray & Liz is financed by the BFI and Ffilm Cymru Wales with National Lottery funding, in association with Severn Screen.

Synopsis:

On the outskirts of Birmingham and the margins of society the Billingham family perform extreme rituals and break cultural taboos as they muddle through a life decided by factors beyond their control. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, three-interlinking episodes unfold as a powerful evocation of the artist’s personal experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat.

In 1990, alcohol makes Richard's father Ray a prisoner in his own bedroom. Ray’s estranged wife Liz and neighbour Sid battle for control of Ray, who remains hopeful that Liz will return to him if he manipulates her through his self-destruction.
 
A decade or so earlier, Richard’s younger brother Jason – then three years old – is left alone with his hapless Uncle Lol. The lodger tricks Lol into drinking the stash of alcohol hidden in the house and neglecting Jason. Liz violently punishes him upon her return.
 
In the mid-‘80s Jason, now 10 years old, goes out with a friend on Bonfire Night but can’t find his way home and ends up sleeping in a shed. He is finally taken into care. When a social worker breaks the news to Ray and Liz, Liz cries a little, but quickly forgets…