London-based filmmaker Suzie Halewood’s latest movie might sound far-fetched – ‘’Division 19’’ fixes on a reality series in which the media and the audience dictate the outcome – but as the amiable artist frightens admits, this is our reality.

On March 12, 2019, Suzie granted an exclusive interview where she discussed her new film and more.

Movies, ideas, and actors

Meagan Meehan (MM): So, Suzie, aren’t you UK based and how did you get into making Movies?

Suzie Halewood (SH): I am currently living on a boat in London. I lived in LA for three years and come back each year for a few months. Would love to do a sting in New York. I worked on the film “Clockwork Mice” and got to know Paul Brooks and Vadim Jean. I pitched them an idea ‘One More Kiss’ which they liked, and it became a feature film starring Gerry Butler. I used the short ends from the Clockwork Mice shoot to make my first short ‘Rocket Man,’ which starred the fabulous Sean Hughes (RIP) and miraculously got selected for Venice.

MM: Where did the idea for “Division 19” come from?

SH: At the time of writing when Tony Blair was in power (and still thinks he is) the UK was the third most watched country on earth after Russia and China. Civil liberties were about to be eroded further with the introduction of bio-passports and a dubious company VeriCool was offering RFID chips for your school kids under the auspices that this way, all kids would appear equal (financially) as credits for school dinners would be via RFID chip and no keep would need to pay with vouchers.

Schools were ‘informed’ this was the direction they were going in, and many parents liked the idea of having their kids chipped so they could be monitored in case of disappearance. The problem was that these kids would be monitored for other things – behavior etc. – mainly for marketing purposes but also for criminal tendencies. The aim of the film was to show two options of the future; one where we do nothing and end up being scrutinized in what would effectively be a gargantuan jail (of our making) as per the Hardin Jones story and two; fight back and change The System as per the Parkour Kids.

Both options are possible. The latter takes sacrifice.

MM: Was it necessary to cast name actors in the film, like Linus Roache and Alison Doody, to hard sell the film to US distributors?

SH: I just picked the actors I liked. It was great they all came on board. I didn’t really expect a US release, but they Keith at Uncork’d came on board, for which I am very grateful.

Films, audiences, and the future

MM: While definitely an original, Division 19 seems to share some elements with the classic book and film the "Running Man." So, were you a fan and was it an intentional homage?

SH: I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen “Running Man” but I will now!

MM: Do you envision the realities in this film will be our future?

SH: This is our present. Tax-payers own the world, but it’s as though they’re waiting for the starting gun. We are the starting gun. The establishment is very good at disappearing those who stick their head above the parapet – alone. So, it has to be a joint effort – if autonomous.

If a man out shopping can stand in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, and the tank driver can simply stop and refuse to drive over him – imagine what must have gone through their minds after initially acting on simple human instinct. They had to know this would effectively mean life over. With such heroism, anything is possible.

MM: How do you think the movie will translate with American audiences and what advice can you offer to budding filmmakers?

SH: With the NSA, the CIA and a litany of shadowy operators – you are in the same situation as the UK, China, Russia – in fact, most countries possibly with the exception of New Zealand. My advice is to do six things a day that carries you towards your goal. You’ll get there in the end – if only because others give up. The trick is going from ‘who is going to help me?’ to ‘who is going to stop me?’

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