Wheel success: James Lucas. Photograph:
New script: James Lucas

Having notched up some serious critical acclaim with his first venture, The Phone Call, local screenwriter James Lucas has turned to the streets of Hackney for his latest work in progress. Thus far, the script for the intriguingly titled Bohemian Motorcycle Club is just about finished and makes for a riveting read.

“Its about a disillusioned young advertising exec called Ed,” explains Lucas. “He gets drawn into an exciting world of choppers, liquor and women via a fledgling motorcycle club, The Bohemians. He sees an opportunity, applies some of his skillset to the club and helps them to make money.

“Unfortunately, hard partying, a forbidden love affair and the entrance of an outlaw biker gang precipitate a descent into criminality and violence.”

A passionate motorcycle enthusiast himself, Lucas took inspiration from two of his friends who founded the refreshingly inclusive East London-based biker brand Black Skulls.

“I love motorbikes so I was immediately drawn in by the rumble of engines and the line up of bikes outside their garage. My imagination began racing and I thought a biker gang based in Hackney was a very original basis for a film.”

The script suggests something of a Spaghetti Western set in amongst the trendy, creative terrain of the modern-day East End – still rough and endearingly ragged round the edges. It presents a clutch of brand new Hackney characters that haven’t previously seen the light of day on screen, and is laced with local insight and profound authenticity.

Perhaps also demonstrating a sense of tiredness with the tedium of the day-to-day corporate world, it seems in part to be about taking a risk, branching out and trying something brave and a little bit wild.

“I look at the burgeoning custom bike scene here in Hackney and across the globe and I see it as an interesting way to view London – almost like looking at it through an oil-smudged pair of eyes. It’s this fresh approach I’m excited about and I’d like to produce a film that’s all at once stylish, unflinching, slightly feral and entertaining.”

On first impressions, it would appear to mark quite a departure from the stark and glorious simplicity of The Phone Call – an engrossing short that focuses entirely on a single phone conversation between Sally Hawkins and a troubled Jim Broadbent. But for Lucas there are definite similarities.

The Phone Call is a very soulful tale and if you peel back the Screaming Eagle mufflers and tattoos in Bohemian Motorcycle Club, underneath you’ll find it’s similarly a story about human connection and drama. Empathy seems to be a common thread in my writing.”

With his first short standing a good chance of an Oscar nomination early next year and plans to start making Bohemian Motorcycle Club in 2015, it’s an exciting time for this talented Hackney writer. He’s also working on a psychosexual thriller TV series, The Chameleon, and he’s some way into a Paul Gascoigne biopic that’s now in official development. With his plate stacked high and heavy, how’s he coping with the pressure?

“I think the success of The Phone Call has galvanised me to continue writing and producing compelling film. In terms of pressure, come back to me when Bohemian Motorcycle Club goes into pre-production. I’ll probably be on serious meds by then.”

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