I recently got the chance to talk to Todd Von Joel about his small role in ‘Offender’. Here, Todd talks about how he got involved in the project and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Todd. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Offender’.
I must state from the start that I only had a small role in Offender, however I was involved behind the scenes in pre production and also advised on set during my shoot days.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The film is about the search for street level justice set against the backdrop of a notorious London young offenders prison.
Tell us a bit about your character and involvement in the movie…
My character is called Jailer Joel and features at the very beginning of the film. He gives Tommy (Joe Cole) his first taste of prison brutality; a punch in the mouth!
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Director Ron Scalpello and writer Paul Van Carter used my short story ‘TW13 4ND’ as part of their pre production research for the film; they also interviewed me about my experiences whilst incarcerated in HMP Feltham – (NB. The prison Tommy gets sent to – HMP Gravesmere, is loosely based on HMP Feltham in West London.)
How would you say this film is different and unique?
‘Offender’ is unique in that it’s the first film to address the London riots and with the exception on Alan Clarkes’s ‘Scum’ (1979), is the only film to be set in a British young offenders prison.
The film stars Joe Cole, English Frank, Kimberley Nixon, Shaun Dooley, Tyson Oba, G. Frsh, Scorcher and Ruth Gemmell – with Ron Scalpello onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
Joe Cole is a hugely exciting new British talent; as charming, genuine and real off the screen as he is on it, I believe he has a long and successful career ahead of him. For me, Ron Scalpello represents the new wave of exciting British directors following the likes of Andrea Arnold – (‘Fish Tank’, 2009), Shane Meadows – (‘This Is England’, 2006) and Nick Love – (‘Football Factory’, 2004). Ron is not afraid to take a chance on new/unknown acting talent and is comfortable approaching difficult/taboo subject matters head on. His cinematography in ‘Offender’ is at points stunning; Tommy’s initial entry through the snow and burning toilet paper missiles into the prison and Elise’s (Kimberly Nixon) miscarriage are two scenes that really stood out for me.
Let’s talk a bit about you Todd. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
It’s just in me! I’ve tried to suppress it and at times forgotten about it, but now that I’ve accepted, embraced and exercised it – I’m proud to call myself an ‘actor’!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Anyone that’s serious will already have found out how to get involved so I don’t want to appear in any way patronising or condescending with clichéd advice, however in my experience I’ve found it important to be patient, polite, punctual, professional and most importantly – positive.
You’ve had a number of roles in different films and TV series – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
I met Nick Love and Ray Winstone on ‘The Sweeney’ (2012). They are two of my idols and exactly what I thought they’d be like – top blokes!
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
I like to think I’ve got a tune for every situation however I’m mainly into House. I have a pirate radio background so am more about underground beats than the commercial scene. Three random albums on my I-Pod: The Jam – The Very Best Of, Audio Bullys – Higher Than The Eiffel and Alicia Keys – Songs in A Minor.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Wilfred Owen, I’m obsessed with his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est.
- My Gran, to find out what happens when you die!
- My younger self, to give him a big slap!
You’re stuck on a desert island, you’re only allowed three personal things with you – what would you choose and why?
- Wet wipes, I’m a very clean person!
- A satellite phone to arrange my rescue.
- A pen and paper to write about it all!
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’m the lead in a brand new stage show called ‘You Ain’t Football’ and have been cast in two films, ‘Doorways’ and ‘Fakers’, both due to be shot in late 2012/early 2013.
Thanks for the interview!