A young girl grows up, leaves home and sets out to follow her dreams… only to see them turn into nightmares, as she is caught up in the dark world of human trafficking.
Writer/Director Mike Peacock chats about the making of ‘Alicija’…
Why did you make this film?
About 3 years ago Becky & I became involved with an anti-trafficking organisation called IJM(UK) and we ended up creating ‘The It’s Not Fair’ – a theatre production highlighting the issue of modern-day slavery. This has toured nationally and it has been brilliant to be able to connect people with both IJM(UK) and ‘Stop the Traffik’.
It’s a something that’s really stirred our hearts and so it seemed natural to make it the subject of our next film project.
Was it a hard subject to deal with?
I think all the time that we were making the film we were aware that our ‘fiction’ was very much an everyday reality for some people. The challenge was to tell a story that was authentic, but without being sensationalised; that was authentic and honest, but without resorting to shock tactics. We’re really grateful to the support of some of the different anti-trafficking organisations here in Manchester for their help and advice throughout the process.
What do you hope to achieve from this project?
We want to raise awareness of the situation. We want people to be informed, to understand what’s going on – the sheer scale of the problem. I guess most of all we would want people to feel outraged, inspired and challenged to do something about it; to get involved and help to make a difference. I guess, ultimately, we’d love audiences to connect with some of the anti-trafficking organisations out there and support the amazing work they’re doing to rescue people.
Why make a drama rather than a documentary?
Story is such a powerful medium and connects sometimes in a way that can be deeper than with purely factual information. People connect with people. We wanted the audience to feel as though they get to know Alicija – see her with her friends and family, understand what she wants from life, what makes her tick – and I think than when something terrible happens to a person you know it registers on an all-together different level.
In some ways the scale of human trafficking can be too big (35.8 million) to get your head around – when you think of the sheer numbers involved.
But we can connect with one human being…
I guess we also wanted to create an immediacy to the situation; that trafficking isn’t just something that happens to ‘other people’ ‘elsewhere’. It can happen anywhere… to anyone…
The film ends on a note of hopelessness – do you think that there is any hope for someone in that sort of situation?
There are people and organisations doing fantastic work, on a number of different levels to bring this crime to an end. The scale of it, internationally, is mind-boggling and can be quite intimidating… but it’s that old adage of ‘better to light a candle than curse the darkness’. People are getting rescued… lives are being restored… My hope is that audiences will be inspired to get involved with the fight and become help make a difference themselves…
How did the production come together?
Some of the budget was crowdfunded through Indiegogo and we’re incredibly grateful to all those who supported this campaign. Everyone involved with the shoot volunteered their time & experience for just expenses. We were so fortunate to get a fantastic cast and crew together because everyone felt strongly about the story. We searched all over the country to find the right actress to play Alicija herself and we’re pleased to have the amazing Scarlett Marshall on board.
So, what’s next for this project?
First step will be to enter the film into a number of different film festivals in order to raise its profile. After that we would like it to be used as widely as possible to help highlight the issue of human trafficking. Currently we are chatting with a couple of organisations about how best it can be used, and are looking to develop an education package that can go alongside it. We also have a sequel in development which we are hoping to complete in 2017.