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Film Director

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'Sofa Surfer' is a drama short film by Michele Olivieri, written by Kim Taylor, and currently distributed by Amazon Prime Video, Filmzie and Indieflix.


A sofa surfer seeks a place to spend the night. As everybody turns him down, he must face the demons of an old addiction.


Rob is a sofa surfer roaming the streets while making phone calls to find somewhere to crash for the night. As everybody turns him down, there is a name he hesitates to call. Carl, an old buddy, welcomes him into his rundown apartment, only to tempt him back into a past addiction.

A Sofa Surfer is a homeless individual who stays temporarily with friends, acquaintances or relatives while attempting to find permanent accommodation. They do not own or rent a property and solely rely on the kindness of others.

Many are sofa surfing (or sleeping on the streets) because of family breakdown, having outgrown children’s homes, domestic abuse, end of tenancy, loss of a job, etc. Many become depressed, at risk, turn to substance abuse and because of their constant moving, they are not often able to get appropriate help. Personal relationships also suffer.


Data suggests sofa surfing is the largest form of homelessness -yet the least visible and understood- and that 35% of all young people, especially men, have experienced sofa surfing at some point in their lives. Key findings of the 2019 Crisis’ report suggest “there are 71,400 homeless families and individuals forced to sofa surf across Great Britain on any given night” and a third of these people have been doing so for more than six months.


Through this picture, we tried to raise awareness of the phenomenon by narrating the story of a fictitious character that reflects a real person's experience. To do so, we asked ourselves questions like, what is it like to have no home? To wander around with all your belongings in one bag? To move from one floor or sofa to another? To never know which friend or family member will put you up next if anyone at all? To have to overstay your welcome? What is it like to attempt to take back control of your life as a homeless person? 



Even though I never experienced drug addiction or homelessness personally, when I first read the script of Sofa Surfer, Rob’s life resonated with me. I know what it means to feel lost and how hard one must fight for one’s own sanity. We often don’t realise how fortunate it is to have your life under control, and how easy it can be to give in to the temptation of letting it all go.

Rob is a sofa surfer and a recovering addict. In the past, he made many wrong choices, but now he tries to get his life back on track. Picking yourself up after addiction is no mean feat and Rob, like anyone who sets this goal for themselves, is a hero.

Rob’s journey takes place mostly outdoors, in a world of blue and green, where we don’t see any face but his. We do sense, however, the presence of insistent cars, trains and aeroplanes, which all seem to have a destination. This is to underline Rob’s condition of being lost and aimless.

Rob’s temptation is conveyed through a dream sequence where the display of contradictory images will pose the question of what is real and what isn’t. The increase in shock and anxiety is dramatised by rotating lights and extreme close-ups, while the editing is meant to heighten the feelings of confusion and dreaminess.

Amongst the many sources of inspiration for this film, worthy of mention are the works of Clouzot, Aronofsky, Wong Kar-Wai and especially Kieślowski.

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From screenwriter Kim Taylor:

«This story has been with me in one form or another since 2015.


First, it was inspired by simply walking the streets of London and seeing the dire state of homelessness, too often among young men. Then, it was inspired by hearing the term sofa surfer, ‘an invisible type of homelessness’ and sadly recognising it through an acquaintance.


On the surface, as a writer, I want to bring attention to the two-fold struggle of an individual not only grappling with pulling themselves out of homelessness but also facing what led them there, from loss of income, mental health, rifts with family, divorce, to alcohol and substance abuse addiction.


Beneath the surface, as a writer at the start of my career, the fear that homelessness could happen to any of us loomed in the background and served as a push through several drafts.»




Tom Dayton is a London based actor. His first film appearance was in the short ‘Knowledge is Power’ in 2018. Before portraying the conflicted character of Rob, Tom has had numerous on-screen roles including ‘Cafe talk’ and the award-winning short ‘Lucky Break’.

In open-air Shakespeare, he portrayed Orlando in ‘As You Like it’ and went on to make his fringe debut in ‘Cockroaches’, at the Cockpit Theatre, with Gamayun Theatre company.

Tom believes in the importance of honing his craft and continues to develop his acting skills at The Actors Centre while preparing for two feature lead roles, a play and a TV pilot.

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James Campbell-Warner is a 24-year-old actor living in London who began his acting career performing theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, appearing in two five star shows with the Young Pleasance Ensemble: John Godber’s ‘Teechers’ in 2012 and Tim Norton’s ‘The Death of Chatterton‘ the following year.

James has acted in a number of short films including ‘Behind Closed Doors’, ‘Mobius: The Shape of Things to Come’ and ‘The Look’.

James’ TV credits include Pick TV’s ‘Britain’s Most Evil Killers’ as Hungerford mass-murderer Michael Ryan.


© 2023 by Michele Olivieri​

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