‘Orange Peel’ is a short film about a 17-year-old footballer called Josh and the relationship he has with his dad; co-writers Jordan Diver and Alex Rolph, also producer and director respectively, explain why they’re so passionate about the project and make an appeal for your help…
The team behind a new short film drama offering a fresh take on the challenges facing gay footballers in the men’s game are appealing for support as their Crowdfunder approaches the final whistle.
Arts University Bournemouth under-graduates Jordan Diver and Alex Rolph are the co-writers of ‘Orange Peel’, with Diver also serving as producer and Rolph as director.
The short film is about a 17-year-old called Josh who’s at a football academy.
‘Orange Peel’ follows the dynamic between Josh and his dad Andy and the pressure put on their relationship when the teenager comes out as gay.
The film highlights the ongoing issue of homophobia in football whilst also capturing how difficult it can be for men to express their feelings on and off the pitch.
Rolph aims to create an authentic, social-realist drama that encapsulates what it’s like to lose your dream for reasons out of your control and the damaging effect that can have on your identity as a young person.
The conflict of this story lies within the protagonists’ seemingly conflicting concerns – sexuality, and the dream of playing professional football. While Josh believes he must choose between the two, Andy has to go through his own journey of acceptance as his son makes him realise his true priorities in life.
A new narrative – Jordan Diver writes…
As we all witnessed with the disgusting reaction to the Euros finale in the UK last summer, it’s become very clear that men’s football isn’t as inclusive as it might seem. With some fans responsible for racist abuse, the worst side of the game revealed itself.
Watching those events unfold left an awful taste in my mouth. I couldn’t understand how the most popular sport in the world, with all of Europe watching, could result in people acting in such horrific ways. I thought more about this over the summer. It occurred to me that football was all about ‘tribes’.
These ‘tribes’ give, most generally, heterosexual men a sense of community and belonging. You might think it’s just their teams, but it goes beyond the badge on their football kit.
Caught up in the love for their ‘tribe’, some fans will direct hate at their opponents in the hope it makes them look tough and better than the rest.
This hate is normally drawn from differences between the teams, which can be light-hearted banter much of the time, but can also manifest in sexist, racist, xenophobic or homophobic comments that are not related to football at all.
These comments all contribute towards an atmosphere that can be damaging to minorities that want to be involved in the sport.
As a gay man, I was always conscious about how hetero-exclusive the sport was. Currently, there are no out gay footballers at a professional level in the men’s game in the UK, from a pool of over 5,000.
Meanwhile, 7 in 10 football fans have experienced or witnessed homophobia at a game, which many think could be the reason for its lack of out LGBTQ+ male players.
Whether players are hiding in the closet to save themselves abuse from the ‘fans’, or whether the pro men’s game in Britain is in fact exclusively populated by heterosexual players, we can’t be sure.
However, times are beginning to change, with Australia’s Josh Cavallo coming out and becoming the only current out gay male professional football player in a top-tier league in the world.
A story like this would be welcome in the UK. ‘Orange Peel’ intends to personalise this topic, enabling the audience to sympathise with a victim of homophobia and see the injustice it causes within football and within their personal life.
‘Orange Peel’ is an intersection between two unlikely themes of football and homosexuality, with the purpose of changing attitudes to make football a more inclusive environment.Jordan Diver, co-writer/producer
The director’s vision – Alex Rolph writes…
‘Orange Peel’ sets out to bridge the gap between differences in sexuality and the male professional football world.
On that journey, we encounter a relationship between a father and son – a social-realistic slice of life and a relationship that embodies the film. As a director, I’m striving for authenticity and deep emotional understanding. Navigating such a new and therefore difficult subject is equally exciting and challenging.
With a raw and gritty style, the film captures the everyday, with relatable costume and characters we all feel we have met before.
The setting is familiar and that of a working-class area of the UK. The camera is fluid and free to move, which allows you to follow the journey of the characters as if it was your own. Blue and beige dominate the colour palette, isolating the characters with wide-angle lenses to support this feeling.
The sound is dialogue-heavy, yet awkward silences creep up on the characters when their communication issues emerge
Editing is clean and the cuts match what you want to see, when you want to see it – again, almost like you are living through the characters. Drawing inspiration from films like ‘Billy Elliot’ (2000, Daldry, S) and ‘Wonderkid’ (2016, Chapman, R) and visual inspiration from ‘Moonlight’ (2016, Jenkins, B) and ‘Normal People’ (2020, Abrahamson, L & Macdonald, H), we hope to achieve this.
As the Director, it’s my job to tell you this film is going to change the world. But first, let’s tell this story with the sole purpose of revealing a completely hidden side of football – something we haven’t seen before. And secondly, let’s open the door for change when it comes to how we communicate with those who love us most.Alex Rolph, Director
How you can help…
The ‘Orange Peel’ team is currently fundraising money to get the film into production. Access the Crowdfunder at: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/orangepeel where you can find lots more information about the film and the crew.
Your donation will help get the message to as many audiences as possible to help shift attitudes about being gay in sports, specifically men’s football.
Every donation, big or small, will bring ‘Orange Peel’ one step further to the big screen. Please share to spread the word!
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