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Interview: Carl Loughlin on new film ‘In From the Side’ the importance of representation

In From the Side‘, a new film from Matt Carter focusing on a gay rugby team and an affair that ripples through it, is released in cinemas this Friday.

Following our interviews with lead actors Alexander Lincoln and Alexander King, I spoke to Liverpool-based actor Carl Loughlin who plays supporting character Gareth in the film. The bully of the group, Gareth relishes causing trouble and Loughlin really sinks his teeth into the character.

In our interview, we spoke about the importance of representation in film, the multi-faceted characters in ‘In From the Side’ and the bond the ensemble formed during filming…

How did the premiere go last week?

It was good. I’m glad that the film is finally coming out. A lot of the cast members are from London and they’ve got friends and family that have all seen the film already. I filmed it three years ago so for three years, all my friends and family have heard all about the film but they haven’t had chance to see it yet. It’s exciting. My friend who lives in Florida, she came back to the UK and she came to watch it, and she was the first friend that I knew outside of the film that watched it. It was nice to hear other people’s views and to see it.

Had you done much rugby before you did this film?

I’d done a little bit. I was in Chester’s gay rugby team, and I left because of the contact business. I (was worried about) damaging my leg or something, and I’d not be able to drive to work. When it did the film, I thought I really miss the whole teamwork thing so I thought I’ll try going back to it. I emailed Liverpool gay rugby team and I’m enjoying that. I’ve been doing the touch team.

‘In From the Side’ started life as a Kickstarter campaign and it’s been in the works for a while. How did you come to play the character of Gareth?

I knew Matt (Carter). I used to make short films myself and I had an idea of making a short film about gay footballers. I contacted (Matt) and said, ‘I’ve got this idea, would you be up filming it?’ and he said, ‘well, actually, I’ve got this idea about a gay rugby team’. At the time, I’d joined Chester’s rugby team and thought, ‘you know what, I’d really like to be involved in that’. I’d seen those kinds of characters and I’ve seen bullies in the rugby team at Chester, and I thought it’s just a really interesting character. When he sent me even just the the audition parts, I thought, ‘oh, this is really fun. It’s something to get my teeth into. It’s a funny script. It’s heartwarming’. I honestly do think it’s a LGBTQ+ film that has not been done before. Normally, a lot of gay films are about homophobia or coming out or AIDS or tragedy. This is a film which is about teamwork. It’s a love story that anyone can identify with whatever sexuality. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, when you watched TV and film, there was only Julian Clary and Dale Winton as representation. It’s really fantastic to be able to have this film out there for future gay people that are looking for representation. It’s important, I really do think it is.

Carl Loughlin
Credit: Mal Stone

You’re right. The majority of gay films I watch and review are about trauma or coming out. It was so nice to watch a film that focused on a group of friends that are gay, without the main focus being on their sexuality…

…and it’s not like, ‘Hey, we’re gay! This is gay!’. It was like, this is life. My friend who came to watch it said to me, ‘I forgot it was a gay film and it was two men because all the journey and the emotions, completely resonated with me’. I think that’s the most important thing about this film is that it isn’t the fact that it’s two men, it’s just the love story and how that love story affects everyone else on the team.

The characters in this film aren’t clear cut and as an audience member, I found myself conflicted in terms of how I felt about them at different times. Your character Gareth likes to stir things up but I feel there’s more to unpack there as to why he gets his retaliation in first. What was it like for you to play him?

I think all the characters have two sides. Even Warren and Mark, they’re living two lives and they’re trying to balance two things. In life, everyone has got (different) parts to them. It’s not you are the nasty person, you’re the funny person, you’re the sad person…. everyone’s got everything. Maybe that’s why it’s so natural and real? With Gareth, I very much took it that he’s the bully of the rugby team but why would you bully someone? Is it cecause you’ve been bullied before? Is it because you fancy someone in the rugby team and you see that they like someone else? I hoped Gareth’s sensitive side came across. You’re the first person I’ve spoken to that’s commented on that. I hope that he isn’t just one level, that he is more multi-faceted. Everyone can be vulnerable. Everyone can be a bitch. Everyone can be a bully. Everyone could lose their temper. Everyone could be jealous (and so on).

Gareth definitely is more than just the bully of the group. His character is fleshed out, as are those of the other supporting characters. By the end of the film I felt like I knew these men…

That’s really good. When Matt did the audition, his idea of Gareth was different than I was doing it. He said that when I came in and did it my way, ‘oh, I didn’t think he wold be like that’. I think he envisaged someone that was completely patronising all the way through or a bully physically. For me to do the character I thought, ‘why would I be saying those lines? What would make me think of that?’ I came from it from a vulnerable point of view that maybe he was bullied before. Maybe he fancied (his team mate) Henry. I’m glad you picked up on that.

The film is very much an ensemble piece. What was it like for you to work with this group of actors?

It was it was very much a team. From the first night everyone was in together. I remember the first time we had to film, it was night and it was absolutely freezing. I thought, ‘ what have I gotten myself into?’ We were in shorts and when we were breathing (we could see) our breath. It was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life. We all became a little family and we all became a team. I don’t know if that’s because we were playing a team? It was just nice to work with a lovely group of people both on and off screen, everyone became family. It was special to me because I’m from Liverpool so I was coming down to film and it was like I was coming to visit a group of friends. I didn’t know anyone in London before that, really. It was nice to come away from the film with a group of friends and having done a really fantastic film.

The film has been on the festival circuit this year and the response has been incredibly positive. You must be feeling good about that?

To be honest, I haven’t been worried about the reviews because I know I love this film. I really, really really do love the film. I’m obviously going to be biased but I love the film. I love the people in it. I love the story. I love what it stands for. I’m just excited for everyone else to see what I was involved in when we filmed it because that’s the next exciting thing for me to show my friends and show my family to see what they say. I went to Manchester Pride last week, and I was in the queue for Mel C, because I’m a massive Spice Girls fan, and I turned around and someone said, ‘excuse me, are you in this rugby film that’s coming out in the cinemas?’ He recognised me from the trailer. I’m in the trailer for like one second. He said, ‘I sent (the trailer) to my friends saying we really need to watch this’. People who aren’t in my life who don’t know me will watch it and hopefully they’ll have the same reaction that I did being a part of the film.

Carl Loughlin
Credit: Mal Stone

Until now gay cinema is either independent and doesn’t get a wide audience or we get a Hollywood version of it that doesn’t feel authentic. Do you think ‘In From the Side’ will pave the way for more stories like this to be told in the mainstream?

I think so and I hope so. I think that there is a need to show real representation. That Hollywood version of gayness is like, ‘hey, this is the big gay film’… and it shouldn’t just be independent films, it should be broadened out. I just hope that this shows other filmmakers and other audiences that these films can be made. It can be a different story than what the narrative has been before.

I don’t know why some major film studios are still scared to back a film like this. There’s clearly an audience out there for it…

I think it’s something new maybe. I don’t know. I feel (the film) is different but I didn’t know if that’s because I was involved in the film.It’ll be interesting to see the reaction when it comes out. I hope after it’s done in the cinemas, it’s done all the screenings, and it’s done all around the world I hope it goes on Netflix. Only because it’s more accessible to wider audiences. I hope that as many people see (it as possible) and it affects them the same as it’s affected me.

Would you be interested in exploring more about this group of characters?

I would love for it to be a big Netflix series. I would love ‘In From the Side 2’ but that’s up to Matt who wrote it and Adam (Silver). I suppose if audiences wanted to see what happens next, hopefully Matt and Adam would get together and come up with it quicker than three years (laughs).

What have you got coming up after this film?

I’m in Shrek in Liverpool in December. I’m hopefully going to be doing some short films and digital film called ‘Electric Love’. I just hope that (‘In From the Side’) opens some doors because acting is something that I’m really passionate about.

‘In From the Side’ is released in cinemas on 16th September 2022. Watch the trailer for the film below:

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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