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SOHO, 1959. Harry Preston (Owen Drake) a young writer from the provinces arrives at a surreal neighbourhood in London inhabited by unconventional characters loitering with intent.

As he dissects and analyses an unusual world divorced from the rest of the city, he becomes Soho's resident philosopher of sorts.

In the pubs, cafes and dark foggy streets of the area Harry meets some of the locals. Among them, actor James Compton-Street (Chris Wellington) with whom he strikes a friendship. He also comes across two young Bolex-clutiching filmmakers shooting a Free Cinema-style documentary of Soho and environs.

In the process of discovery, ADRIFT IN SOHO starts as a fiction of a documentary and ends as a documentary of a fiction - the film itself becomes part of an existential question about society.

The characters Harry meets are not preoccupied by the usual concerns. Are they trying to understand the world that surrounds them or are they just trying to survive it?

In the Soho of ADRIFT IN SOHO
Jazz dictates the rules of engagement.
Music commands the streets.
Booze is the currency of choice.
Drugs is the business of the future.
Love is what everybody is looking for.
Words end up in the gutter.

"The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments. Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim. An attitude means a style. A style an attitude." ~ Free Cinema Manifesto, 1956.

The Free Cinema documentaries re-created for ADRIFT IN SOHO are 'Nice Time', 'Momma Don't Allow' and the anti-nuclear 'March To Aldermaston'. ADRIFT IN SOHO was filmed as a homage to this style of filmmaking by using its ethos, techniques and subject matter.

Messina High | Burning Films

ADRIFT IN SOHO is based on the novel of the same name written by Colin Wilson and published in 1961, shortly after his more recognised work, the philosophical treatise 'The Outsider'. Through the eyes and mind of his alter-ego, Harry Preston, the novel follows the experiences and existential analysis of Wilson during his stay in Soho as well as other places in the Britain of the 1950s.

The film version on the other hand exists in a place of the imagination and condenses the novel into a timeless Soho where Wilson's interest in philosophical questions about existentialism and the role of the individual in urban societies are discussed with subtle dark humour.

Like a Bolex camera of the 1950s the film ADRIFT IN SOHO has three switchable camera lenses each pointing towards a different part of the story. One lens points towards the reality of what we see (the fictional and documentary formats), another one points to the surreal world of our thoughts while the third one points into the future of society and humanity as a whole. The story of ADRIFT IN SOHO happens in the mind of the viewer. What we see on the screen are only the clues.

Time does not seem to exist. Events occur, situations take place, people talk but we don't know exaclty why, when and for what. We assume the period is in the past. It's possibly 1959 if we look at the clock. Makes sense. But time doesn't seem to pass or passes very quickly. All we know is that we are definitely in Soho.

"The film is set in Soho in the year before the 1960s revolution in London but it could be anytime and anyplace: societies need an escape hatch from conventionality all the time. Never like Soho in the 1950s when all sorts of rebels, bums, beatniks, artists and bohemians bunched up there over ten years until their lifestyles provided the critical mass for social change everywhere." ~ Pablo Behrens, director of Adrift in Soho.

ADRIFT IN SOHO follows a documentary crew to tell its own story of Soho but then gets caught up in the format itself. Is the story true? Yes. Are the characters true? Yes. It all happened long ago. Inspired by the Dziga Vertov 'lens-eye' montage, the Bolex camera in the film manages to record the last throws of a vanishing world.

Starring Owen Drake and Chris Wellington who together with a group of amazing young actors and seasoned performers bring London's Soho of the 1950s alive in body and spirit.

ADRIFT IN SOHO - THE MOVIE is directed by Pablo Behrens in the style of a 1950s Free Cinema documentary. The script is also written by Pablo Behrens who met Colin Wilson and studied his work. After discovering that Wilson had participated in Free Cinema documentaries himself, elements of the movement were added to the movie version.

ADRIFT IN SOHO - THE MOVIE is produced by Pablo Behrens and Owen Drake. To be released in 2017.