In a career spanning over 50 years, British director Ken Loach has always resisted the call of Hollywood and its bigger budgets, opting instead for UK made films shining a light on social issues. He won the Palme D’Or and a BAFTA for I, Daniel Blake, an examination of this country’s welfare system as seen through the eyes of one job-hunter in Newcastle.
Now he returns to the North East for his latest film, Sorry We Missed You, but with the gig economy in his sights. This time the focus is on a family: the father has recently taken on freelance work delivering parcels, while the mother has a zero hours contract in the care service. It’s a way of life that impacts seriously not just on their pay packets, but on family life as a whole.
Of the actors playing the family, only Kris Hitchen, who plays the father, has trained as an actor. But, as he explains to The People’s Movies Freda Cooper, he didn’t do a great deal of research for the role as he spent 17 years of his life as a gas engineer and that gave him all the insight he needed. Playing his daughter is Katie Proctor, whose performing arts teacher at school suggested she try for the role – something she resisted for some time as she didn’t feel it was right for her.
Debbie Honeywood, who plays the mother, had been working as a teaching assistant and, as she’d joined an extras agency, didn’t believe she’d landed the lead role until she arrived for her first day on set. She recalls how what she describes as “imposter syndrome” set in and how it was Kris Hitchen who persuaded her to get back in front of the camera. Rhys Stone, who plays the family’s teenage son, found himself taking lessons in graffiti for his role, something he took to naturally – although when he saw himself on screen in the film for the first time, he describes it as “weird.”
Sorry We Missed You is released in UK cinemas on 1 November