Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Wonderful Assist From Sir Ian McKellen

When London university student Rhys Chapman was getting ready in 2014 to launch a Kickstarter campaign for his short drama Wonderkid, he had a promotional video in the works featuring his own narration. Then he remembered an encounter at the annual Pride in London festival.

Wonderkid is about a fast-rising young soccer player who happens to be gay. When this "wonder kid" joins a Premier league team in London, he encounters behavior in the locker room and beyond that sadly confirms why he must keep his orientation a secret.

Chapman, center, flanked by co-stars Leeshon Alexander and Chris Mason

From Chapman's recent interview with hometown outlet the Cambridge News:

"I met Sir Ian McKellen at Gay Pride in London and I told him what I was doing. He said he’d do anything he could to help and when I filmed a crowd-funding video at Wembley I sent him one of the final versions I had initially narrated. "I asked him if he would do it and he said 'yes'... which was amazing."
"He came in and did a voiceover and it kinda took off after that point, because not only is he world-famous with an immediately recognizable voice but he’s one of the biggest gay actors of all time, so suddenly the project had a huge amount of integrity among the gay community and it became newsworthy and generated a ton of publicity from that campaign and we were able to fund the full version of the film."

Wonderkid premiered at the 2016 Raindance Film Festival, and following an airing on Sky Sports 1 in the U.K., has been made available this month for free viewing online. Chapman hopes to take the basic idea of the short and turn it into the basis for a TV series about a gay soccer player.

Below is the interview Chapman did on Sky Sports to promote the film's broadcast debut in January.

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