Film-maker Richard DeDomenici tells EDWIN GILSON about his new 10 minute version of the 1947 film, shot with a cast of local amateur actors

IT BARELY needs pointing out that remakes of classic movies tend to be less successful than the original. Often, the question that surrounds large-scale contemporary revivals is “Why?” Why did the film need to be made, why even try to build on the original’s towering legacy?

Richard DeDomenici’s Brighton Rock: Redux is a very different proposition to the usual Hollywood adaptations, though. For a start, his version will only be ten minutes long – if all goes to plan – and stars local amateur actors. There are some surprising casting decisions, most notably the selection of drag king Richard Reckless (real name Katrina Clifford) as the film’s central character Pinkie – Richard Attenborough in the original. Many of the movie’s considerable squad of gangsters will be played by women, too.

These choices fit in with DeDomenici’s ethos and motivation, to subvert the films he is “reduxing” while at the same time showing his love for them. To date, he has made over 50 shortened versions. Brighton Rock is the oldest. Filming took place over a few days this week and DeDomenici will work feverishly in his studio to turn around the footage for the screening at ACCA next week.

“I don’t have any film-making training and I like to work with people who have no formal experience,” says the director. “We’ve all got the technology in our pockets to shoot a film and with a bit of jiggery pokery you can make it look like it cost a million pounds. The bold intention of the Redux project is to dismantle hierarchies and power structures.”

DeDomenici only intended for the Redux idea to be a one-off, but then a reviewer tweeted that he enjoyed his version more than the original. So he made another, this time shooting science-fiction film Cloud Atlas in Glasgow. National newspaper The Scotsman gave the finished product a four-star review; it had only given the actual movie three stars.

“I’ve done over 50 Redux films since then in attempt to figure out why some people prefer them to the originals,” says DeDomenici. “There is a lot of fatigue from audiences about the amount of prequels and sequels and reboots coming out. The Redux project criticises that but also adds to it, in a way. Without a love for the original film it’s hard to do a remake.”

DeDomenici says he “strives for perfection”, but, in reality, with his limited resources, perfection just isn’t possible. Not that that seems to matter to his cast and audience; far from it, in fact. “Actually, it’s the bits that go wrong that people often like the best.”

As the Redux films last just ten minutes (maximum, many have been shorter) DeDomenici focuses on replicating the original film’s location rather than its plot.

“I’m not the first person to remake this and I won’t be the last,” he says, referring to the 2010 Brighton Rock reboot starring Sam Riley. “But what separates this film from others is its site-specificity. The station, The Lanes and the pier are still intact – there hasn’t been too much gratuitous rebuilding, like in London.”

The story of how Richard Reckless came to take on the role of Pinkie contains a certain amount of coincidence. DeDomenici’s friends noticed the physical similarity between the drag king and the film-maker while watching an event involving Reckless. They’re both from Watford, too.

“I thought someone was reduxing me when I saw the picture,” laughs DeDomenici. “In the film Richard Attenborough has a lot of gravitas for a young guy, and I thought Richard Reckless could pull off that sense of drama.”

What’s next for DeDomenici? He says he intends to continue making Redux films on an ever-increasing scale. He would be wary, though, of pushing the project too far and heading to Hollywood.

“I’m not sure if they’d get the humour in America,” he says. “They might think it’s intellectual copyright theft. That’s how the Redux project will end – I’ll either get sent to prison or be asked to direct the new Transformers movie.”

Brighton Rock: Redux, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, 
University of Sussex, November 24, 8pm. For tickets and more information visit or call 01273 678822