NO DOG is a short film based on the critically acclaimed autobiography The Lost Boyz — A Dark Side of Graffiti by Justin Rollins.
Told through the eyes of a young Justin Rollins, the film sheds light on the squandered youth of a few boys from late 1990s South London. Spanning three days in the boys’ lives, we journey with them as they surround themselves with urban chaos, graffiti, racism, train-tracks, violence and the need for respect.
Where adolescence is hard enough to deal with, add in an unstable home, racism and lack of belonging, and we begin to feel what it is like to be a young Justin Rollins, filled with mental torture.
The film goes some way towards explaining (but not justifying) the rationale of the actions of London’s troubled youth by subtly raising questions about youth violence and its connection to a lack of a male role model at home, the impact of coming from a broken home, and a lack of youth activities.
Justin Rollins is a former South London graffiti gang leader turned critically acclaimed writer.His autobiographical book ‘The Lost Boyz’ is currently studied nationwide within criminology degrees and is recognised and championed by the UK’s leading criminologist Professor David Wilson.A competent speaker, Justin is a guest university lecturer and has appeared on numerous media platforms including Sky News, BBC News and radio, LBC radio, Five News and This Morning (ITV), providing first hand expert knowledge, advise and opinion on the Criminal Justice System and associated social factors.
The late 90s graffiti scene in London is what kept Justin Rollins out on the streets. Its mindless vandalism and associated adrenaline is what brought Justin and his friends together. Their shared love of graffiti gave them a sense of unity, or family, that kept them connected.
This sense of family evolved into gang life, and before too long, Justin and his friends were filling their voids at home with their new family out on the streets of south London.
The London graffiti scene hasn’t been explored in British cinema. It’s a hidden world that to those that don’t know it, is full of intrigue. Visually arresting imagery of train yards and train tracks at night was where Justin and his gang felt most comfortable. Right under the feet of the everyday person, there was a whole world of hedonism taking place. To you and I a tag is simply ugly vandalism, but to these kids, it means so much more. It is their whole world.
Where No Dog is a small window into that world, the feature to follow — The Lost Boyz — will show it in its entirety. Shedding light on the lengths kids go to to get their tag up, and the dangers that go with it…
…What began as something fairly mindless, naturally grew into gang rivalry and turf war.
What makes No Dog special is the way the production of the film was carried out. We learned at an early stage that this film cannot be cast in the traditional way. To have someone play a kid who lived on the street and led a gang, we were instinctively drawn to street casting.
Director Darius Norowzian had previously built a relationship with the boxing charity Carney’s Community from Battersea, South London through his previous powerful short film Born A Believer — a film about the boxing charity Carney’s Community who help ex-offenders and disaffected youths turn their lives around by breaking the cycle of gang life. Together with producer Todd Von Joel — who also has roots at Carneys Community— it was decided that a call out would be done to offer to the anyone from the charity an opportunity to be part of the film.
Not only did we find our main protagonist, opportunities and work experience was given to other Carney’s Community members. If nothing more, to be able to have brought opportunities those that need them most is a success in itself.
The film No Dog serves as a preview into the world of the potential feature film The Lost Boyz, a project still in the making. No Dog Films Ltd are actively looking for funding.