The Headline. A brand new feature film, starring a group of short statured actors is set to be the cult online streaming sensation that will have whole internet talking in 2023.
Overview. Good things come in small packages... especially when they are in big movies. For over forty years, not since Terry Gilliam released Time Bandits, people have been waiting for a big screen successor which provides a plethora of opportunities for actors who are short of stature but long on talent.
The film. Lion vs The Little People (LVTLP), a low budget UK produced feature film creatively deconstructing one of the greatest internet phenomena of all time. The film is due to be released in the US and UK on digital platforms, starting with Amazon Prime, in early 2023.
Premise. LVTLP is part drama, part documentary. The film explores a viral internet legend originally said to be reported by the BBC as “Lion versus M**gets”, and subsequently reported as fact by a number of mainstream publications.
Origins. Director, Raphael Warner explains “In 2005, a hoax news-post masquerading as a BBC news article, announced a fight had taken place between a lion and an army of 42 fighting dwarfs. The hoax was a quintessential example of viral media, spreading like wildfire online before eventually being accepted to be debunked. While the original BBC article has been shown to be fake, the myth continues to live on”.
Typecasting. Despite a resurgence of Hollywood adventure fantasies decent acting roles for ‘little people’, the term preferred by those who used to be called dwarfs or even by the ‘m word’, are few and far between. While large studio franchises such as Harry Potter and The Witcher have created some opportunities, seldom do LP actors get cast in lead roles in feature films, let alone ones that operate outside the fantasy genre.
Impact. Lion vs The Little People hopes to change all this. Shot on a modest budget and during the painfully slow lockdown of 2020, the film will no doubt attract controversy, but ultimately hopes to be a positive force for change in the industry. If nothing less, LVTLP will also stimulate senior media stakeholders across the industry to recognise and develop opportunities for actors of short stature.
Attitudes. Warner adds ‘The entertainment industry’s attitude to diversity and it’s portrayal of under-represented groups has improved in the last decade. However, while attitudes to LP roles are improving, they are still a woefully under represented group on screen.
Experience. Lead actor Leigh Gill, 4ft 0. notes that it is “rare to get a decent role, let alone a lead in a feature given a prevailing culture of ‘fear and confusion’ around casting LPs in entertainment projects. In an industry where they are now casting tall actors to play The Time Bandits and are too scared to cast ‘real dwarfs’ to play dwarfs, films like this are a great f**k you to that kind of thing!’.
Concluding. For Warner, this film has been a labour of love. “It took me nearly 20 years to make this ‘batsh*t-crazy’ film. While one slightly eccentric British feature won’t change an industry overnight, I hope the film and the debate and energy it will likely generate on Twitter and other social media platforms might at least shine a light on the formidable LP acting talent we have in the UK’.
Release. Lion vs the Little People will be released in the UK & US on digital platforms in early 2023.
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