Taglines: Live, love and give as good as you get.
Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is in a constant state of war with her family, her school and her neighbors, without any constructive creative outlet for her considerable energies save a secret love of hip-hop dancing. When she meets her party-girl mother’s charming new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender), she is amazed to find him returning her attention, and believes he can help her start to make sense of her life—though his seemingly tender demeanor may hide a much more treacherous interior. A clear-eyed, potent portrait of teenage sexuality and vulnerability.
Fish Tank is the story of 15-year old Mia, whose life is turned on its head when her mother brings home a new boyfriend. Set in the decaying landscape and council estates of Essex, Arnold reinforces her reputation as a British auteur and casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short WASP to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.
A clear-eyed, potent portrait of teenage sexuality and vulnerability, Fish Tank confirms Oscar winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s stature as one of the leading figures of new British cinema.. Filmed over six weeks in the summer of 2008, Fish Tank was produced by Kees Kasander and Nick Laws and was executive produced by Christine Langan of BBC Films and David Thompson. The director of photography was Robbie Ryan (Brick Lane, Red Road), the editor Nicolas Chaudeurge (Red Road) and the production designer, Helen Scott (Red Road, Topsy Turvy).
BBC Films and the UK Film Council in association with Limelight present a Kees Kasander production. Fish Tank stars Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglorious Basterds), Kierston Wareing (It’s A Free World), Katie Jarvis, Rebecca Griffiths and Harry Treadaway (Brothers of the Head), and is written and directed by Andrea Arnold. Andrea Arnold won the Jury Prize at the 2006 Cannes Festival for her debut feature Red Road, for which she also won many other awards including the prestigious Carl Foreman BAFTA Award in 2007.
About the Production
Academy-award winning writer/director Andrea Arnold began the process of turning FISH TANK into a film when she was struck by a single image. “All my films have started with an image,” says Arnold “It’s usually quite a strong image and it seems to come from nowhere. I don’t understand the image at first or what it means, but I want to know more about it so I start exploring it, try and understand it and what it means. This is how I always start writing.”
From the outset of the project Arnold was keen to cast as many non-actors as possible. 17 year old Katie Jarvis who had no previous acting experience was cast as Mia. “I always wanted someone real for Mia,” says Arnold. “I wanted someone who would give me trouble for real. I wanted a girl who would not have to act, could just be herself.” The casting process took some time before Katie was ‘discovered’ on a station platform.
“Originally we went down the more traditional routes as Mia needed to have a passion for dancing,” explains Arnold. “We saw girls from agencies and dance clubs. Then we started looking in Essex, in youth clubs, markets, shopping centres, anywhere teenage girls would hang out. Katie was found on Tilbury Town Station arguing with her boyfriend. When she was approached she didn’t believe it was really for a film and wouldn’t hand over her number. She has a lot of spirit but also a vulnerability and innocence that felt right. She came from where we were going to film and felt very real.”
Katie says “There weren’t a lot of people at the first audition so I wasn’t nervous, but at the second it was a bit more scary as there were a lot of girls. I’d never done any dancing or anything like that and I didn’t think I had a chance. They called me on my birthday and told me I’d got the part. I cried my eyes out, I was well chuffed.”
Even though Katie had no dance experience, which was crucial for the role, Arnold was convinced that she was right for the role. “She had never done any acting or dancing before,” explains Arnold. “She didn’t dance at all in fact, didn’t even like dancing. The first time I asked her to dance she was too shy and so we left the room and left the camera on so she could dance alone.
When I watched the tape back I saw that even though she was not a dancer in any way she was totally herself when she was dancing. There was no mask, no show. She was able to be herself totally even though she didn’t like doing it. I thought I would take the risk. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, Katie had never done any acting but whatever happened I knew she would be herself and I wanted that the most.”
Katie adds “The dancing was hard work as I had to do it over and over again. It wore me out, but it kept me fit.” “She was really brave in so many ways; there was so much for her to get used to. She was in every scene and it was tough for her sometimes,” says Arnold. “I think she really grew over the course of the filming, changed in some way. She did beautifully. I think she wants to do more acting. She has an agent now.”
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Fish Tank (2010)
Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Starring by: Michael Fassbender, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, Charlotte Collins, Jason Maza, Chelsea Chase, Jack Gordon, Sarah Counsell, Brooke Hobby, Sydney Mary Nash
Screenplay by: Andrea Arnold
Production Design by: Helen Scott
Cinematography by: Robbie Ryan
Film Editing by: Nicolas Chaudeurge
Art Direction by: Christopher Wyatt
Music by: Phonso Martin
Costume Design by: Jane Petrie
Art Direction by: Christopher Wyatt
Distributed by: IFC FÝlms
Release Date: January 15, 2010