What would you get if you combined hit E4 shows Skins and Glee? The result would probably be very similar to FIT, a feature film produced by the charity Stonewall. The film revolves around the lives of a group of six young people in London. They are all part of a sixth form college and cross paths when they join a dance and drama group in order to gain credits for school. The film focuses on the issues that each of these young people face in turn: the main focus is on their awakening sexuality and their attitudes towards each other. The content of the film is very gritty and deals head on with many of the problems surrounding homophobia.
Rikki Beadle-Blair, of Channel 4 fame, is the creative mind behind the film. He is the writer, director and producer of FIT. The project originally began as a play which travelled around schools in the UK and ran workshops for the young people involved. 20,000 secondary school pupils saw it across the UK. The demand was so high for the play that it was difficult for the cast to keep up. This led to the launch of the FIT DVD in March of last year. The popularity of the film is not limited to school-goers and their teachers. The DVD is used to train nurses how to deal with mental health issues. It is also used as a training tool for the RAF, as a basis for their induction sessions.
In November 2010, FIT was released as a feature film by Peccadillo Pictures. It was shown in selected cinemas across the UK before it was released on DVD on 29 November. The film has received critical acclaim worldwide, including places as widespread as Boston, Germany and Hong Kong. Testimonials from younger people who have seen the film add to the praise it has already received from other quarters. One 15-year old said of the DVD: “I absolutely loved it!” The Times has described FIT as “a kind of gritty take on the shiny E4 drama, Glee.”
Despite the strong London accents of the characters, young people all across the UK still find it easy to relate to. It has gotten a lot of positive reactions from areas such as inner city Glasgow, Aberdeenshire and Dumfries. It is not really seen as London-centric, and the questions addressed in the film are common issues that kept cropping up among students during the play workshops. Laura Ferguson, Education Officer for Stonewall Scotland, has had positive feedback regarding the DVD. She also mentions her own reaction to the film. “It has so many messages. The first time I saw it I learned a couple of things.”
Despite being geared towards teenagers, the gritty nature of the film appeals to the older viewer as well as younger students. Beadle-Blair tackles the prejudice surrounding homophobia in a format that young adults can relate to.