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Some films are fun to make, some seem momentarily important, still others demand to be made, and Just A Boy is one of those.
Style Note – This story is about triumph. It’s Britain’s believable Rocky parable. It’s the gritty reality of This is England meets Kes meets Trainspotting.
What Will Make This Film Stand Out – Just A Boy is a film that has layers of truth, sincerity, despair and hope coming out blinking into the sunshine.
Scale – This is, in an international film with a big heart and universal ambition. What makes a film big isn’t how much it costs; it’s how big its scope is. This film, with its gut wrenching trauma and journey through the darker sides of life through to a glorious self-enlightenment makes it huge.
Audience – The film, like the book will appeal to a wide demographic and across national boundaries. Naturally it will attract a very wide audience in the UK where the stories surrounding the Yorkshire Ripper still resonate. Remembering the books have sold approximately 500,000 copies there is a proven pool of people who will want to see what they read come to life on screen. Additionally there will be a wide-ranging audience across the world.
Based on the books Just a Boy & The Boy Grows Up by Richard McCann
The triumphant story of a young man overcoming impossible odds to create a meaningful life out of chaos.
Imagine: another man, this one evil, rips out your heart and stamps on it. How long does it take to put you back together? Could you ever be whole again when your childhood is stolen?
This is the true, sad, but inspirational story of Richard McCann, the son of Wilma McCann, the first victim of The Yorkshire Ripper.
Just a Boy is the story of triumph over impossible odds as Richard comes to terms with a childhood bereft of an alcoholic father’s love and the absence of his adored mother.
2014: In a smart conference room, an immaculately dressed young man addresses an audience. He’s fluent and impressive as he tells them, over rapturous applause: “The two most important words in the English language are ‘I Can”‘. These words are from his heart; and he should know.
Wind back to 1975. Aged 5, a small boy wakes in the early hours and discovers his mother is not home; very slowly, he realizes she will never be home again. As if the loss of their mother is not enough, together with his sisters, the boy’s life is torn apart time and again. Beaten, abused, deprived, and with only each other for warmth, comfort and love, they do well to survive at all.
Permanently haunting the shadows of Richard’s life lurks the monster that is Peter Sutcliffe. Roaming West Yorkshire undetected and murderous, Sutcliffe is killing other women, 13 in all, constantly terrorizing the small boy’s nightmare life.
Motherless, Richard and his sisters are shunted between relatives in a latter day Cinderella type existence; no one to fight for them except each other. Bullied at school, often neglected at home, their life is shiftless and miserable. But despite this the young boy continues to show glimpses of his charm, natural intelligence and ability to communicate as he becomes an adolescent.
We know that if only he can get a chance to shine, he will.
It’s no surprise that Richard and his sisters walk on the wild, seedy side of their tough Northern British home town, Leeds. Unsuccessfully, they try to keep clear of the traps of crime, drugs and drink, but they’re young and vulnerable.
As a young adult and desperate, suicide enters his mind; he comes close but some inner strength pulls him back from the brink.
Richard enlists in the British Army and is posted to Germany where he soon finds more trouble. He runs wild in a carnival of self-destruction. He is dismissed and returns to the UK but his life continues to spiral downhill; unable to maintain long-term relationships with women or hold down a job that can take his life forward.
Almost inevitably he ends up dealing drugs, is caught after what looks like a set-up and is sent to prison.
After serving his time he is released, re-joining society with nothing more than hope and dreams. His life can go either way, but he begins to fight back. Instead of sinking further toward oblivion, he discovers the wisdom to be found in reading and learns that there are other ways forward.
He chooses to survive.
Against the background of Sutcliffe being caught, tried and imprisoned, Richard reshapes his life. He battles his way into university, where he discovers that he’s bright and able. His life finally appears to be working out; but while he prospers his older sister, Sonia, descends into her own hell. He tries to pull her back from the abyss he himself has seen into, but her slide is steep. He walks away from their suicide pact; he’s made his choice to live.
Richard rediscovers his Scottish family and realizes that there is love for him. He gets work and enjoys a stable relationship with a woman who he will one day marry. But never far from the surface is Sonia, her life now disintegrating. He wants to do something to stop her descent into an oblivion that he no longer wants to share but there comes a time when you just have to let go.
Wind forward to 2014.
A hotel conference room, Richard strides the stage addressing another rapt audience; animated, he tells them “Once you find the courage, it will often take you to a place you never even thought existed.” And he should know. Despite the deaths of his mother, father and sister, he finds the strength and courage to put his life back together. More than that, he dedicates his life to sharing his extraordinary experiences to help others find their way with inspirational talks and his books selling hundreds of thousands of copies, his journey destined to ultimately inspire millions of others.