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Alleycats movie of east London sub-culture bike-racing hits the Big Screen

PUBLISHED: 10:32 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:04 08 August 2016

Scene in Alleycats

Scene in Alleycats

UPHE Content Group

Movie makers shooting a murder thriller about the underground sub-culture of alleycat bike racing in London’s East End finally release the film this month after raising the cash to cover production costs from the public.

Movie-maker Ian Bonhôte on location in London's East End for AlleycatsMovie-maker Ian Bonhôte on location in London's East End for Alleycats

It explores the world of ‘alleycats’—real bike racing in a dangerous, underground culture not wholly legal, usually on busy streets at rush hour.

Director Ian Bonhôte, who set up temporary offices off Brick Lane, scanned east London for locations after infiltrating the alleycat scene.

“Cycling is a passion and I got involved in the underground cycling community,” Ian told the East London Advertiser. “I befriended couriers who invited me to join an alleycat race and became exposed to an entire sub-culture.”

Members of the public pledged money online to fund his film and were invited onto the set during the shoot.

Film crew on set oif AlleycatsFilm crew on set oif Alleycats

“It’s an amazingly democratic way to raise money for film-makers,” Ian said. “You already start building an audience from an early stage in the production process.”

Josh Whitehouse plays a bike courier who witnesses a murder by an MP. His curiosity draws him in and he is soon embroiled in a world of corruption, political power and blackmail.

Swiss-born Ian, 38, arrived in Britain in the late 1990s, settling in the Hoxton artists colony and buying “a wrecked mews house” opposite the Jeffrye Museum.

“London itself is a ‘character’ in the film,” he tells you. “It is in all elements of the plot, such as CCTV, couriers, traffic, civilians, police and government, with all the familiar landmarks.”

East London is a popular location for alleycat races, he found, so it provided an authentic setting for filming.

Ian was stalled at first when he started the film project after learning that Hollywood was putting out Premium Rush which also features a courier as the lead character. But he later released it was different—so the project was back on track.

His production team, went on the Kickstarter online crowdfunding platform to raise an extra £50,000 for the fast-paced scenes which were shot around Bethnal Green and Shoreditch. These included a school, car-repair yard, greasy-spoon café and Petticoat Lane with its “contrasting money versus poverty cultures”.

Alleycats is on download on August 22 and DVD August 29.

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