The man from Threshers, off-licensed to thrill

Cannes Festival: British action film company chooses for its first production a script by an unknown writer who worked in his local wine shop

A film penned by an unknown writer as he worked by day in an off-licence has been chosen as the first production by a new company seeking to reinvent the genre of British action films.

The 51st State, a £20m film starring Samuel L Jackson as a drug dealer, will be filmed on Merseyside and culminate in a gun battle at Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club.

It was written by Stel Pavlou, 29, as he worked stacking bottles and sweeping floors at a branch of Threshers. He would retreat to his flat in Rochester, Kent, to work on manuscripts.

Mr Pavlou wrote the script in two months during 1995 and sent it via an agent to Tim Roth, the British actor who starred with Jackson in Pulp Fiction, who insists on seeing all independent film scripts sent to him.

Within a fortnight Roth telephoned Mr Pavlou, saying he was interested, and helped to get creative and business backing. Mr Pavlou flew to Los Angeles last year to discuss his script with Jackson, who at the time was filming Jackie Brown and Sphere back to back. "He is a really down-to-earth man and wanted to get to the nub of his character," said Mr Pavlou. "As we were talking, George Lucas rang to offer him the part in the new Star Wars films. Then he started practising saying, 'May the force be with you'. That's when I knew I was in the middle of the movie business."

He added: "The whole experience has been nerve-racking, exciting, full of joy but also worry that it would fall through."

Mr Pavlou, whose father is a taxi driver and whose mother works as a home-help, went to university in Liverpool for a course in American studies and served in the Greek army in Cyprus for a year.

He spent five years working at Threshers after applying for about 600 jobs in the media and publishing. Since his film success, he has had a science fiction novel, Decipher, accepted by the publisher Simon & Schuster.

The idea for The 51st State, a phrase used by Americans to described Britain during the Second World War, came to him in 1994. He calls it a black comedy thriller about an American drugs baron who comes to Liverpool to sell a new drug to the highest bidder.

Robert Carlyle, star of Angela's Ashes and Trainspotting, has been approached to play his American-hating minder.

The film, which will be shot later this year, will mark the entry into the British film industry of Momentum Pictures, a new company headed by the former Universal Pictures chairman, David Kosse - an American who lives in Britain. Kosse is to inject £40m into British films over the next year, producing eight films.

Some of Kosse's funding comes from Canada and Germany, so profits are still likely to go abroad, but he said his production and distribution outfit would be shooting action films in Britain - a genre he said Britain was weak on. He said: "I am the only American foolish enough to try and build a film career in London. The demise of Polygram was the low point for the British film industry. We want to promote the industry and build it up again."

He has already struck a deal with Natural Nylon, the film company of the actors Jude Law and Ewan McGregor, to make the film Marlow, the story of the playwright Christopher Marlow, likely to star Jonathan Rees Meyer and Michelle Pfeiffer as Lady Walsingham. It will be the first time she has made a film in Britain. Mr Kosse said: "Our connections with the studios in the United States are unrivalled. We are set up well to access the top talent in the US."

Other projects include White Clouds, an unpublished screenplay by the late Dennis Potter.

Lord Puttnam is to chair the development board of the British Film Institute overseeing a newly launched department to find donors for the new BFI film centre on the South Bank in London, it was announced in Cannes yesterday.

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat