Wharfer opts for Ian McKellen's Limehouse pub for new film's backdrop


Limehouse's Narrow Street boasts a long-standing reputation as a hotbed for creatives.

Literary references to the east London area have spanned the generations, scattered through the works of Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and George Orwell.

More recently, its charm captured the attention of acting stalwart Sir Ian McKellen who now co-owns The Grapes pub.

Matthew Butler - actor, director, scriptwriter and part-time Wharfer - is the latest artistic talent to add to the Narrow Street mythology.

The 33-year-old co-founder of Fizz And Ginger Films has juggled various theatrical roles, as well as seasonal positions at Cabot Place Mall's Charbonnel et Walker, with compiling scripts and undertaking filming for his company's latest project, Two Down.

The film, which was restricted to a tight budget of £38,000, was shot this autumn and a trailer will be released on December 11.

While the bulk of the scenes were shot in Crouch End, former Westferry man Matthew returned to his east London stomping ground - and the familiarity of friend Sir Ian's watering hole - for a handful of scenes.

"It was filmed in three weeks so there were a lot of favours and it was all very crazy," said Matthew.

"We had spent a lot of time writing for places we knew, so we got in touch with Ian ages before and we wrote around The Grapes.

"He has always been amazingly supportive of all our films so he was more than happy for us to be there."

Matthew and his crew spent an intense day filming at the pub for scenes mostly involving protagonist Harry Montague, played by Game Of Thrones' Conleth Hill.


Other well known faces include Felicity Montagu from Alan Partridge and Matthew Cottle from Game On.

Matthew said: "I worked with Conleth and Felicity in a play at the beginning of the year and they knew about all our short films.

"At the end of the run, they said they would love to work with me but I don't know if they realised I was going to phone them up about it."

Now focussed on raising £10,000 for post production costs Matthew said this project made a nice change.

He said: "After those years plodding away making short films, putting every bit of money we had into them, people have seen it is going to be a good film.

"Four years ago, we would have been banging on doors to get noticed, and it is getting easier."

Two Down is currently in post production and is set to be released after stints at next summer's film festivals.

Go to fizzandgingerfilms.co.uk for more information.

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