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Faye Butler is an actor, writer and producer from Blackpool now based in London and working in film and TV. After returning from a stint acting in Tokyo, she spent two years developing Keep The Faith, a film shot in Blackpool in February this year. This is a film about resilience and hope with the help of a little Northern Soul.

Northern Soul was part of Butler’s upbringing. It’s a subculture created by working-class youth in ‘70s Britain, based on a particular style of Black American soul music. The teens created their own style of dance, with spins and kicks and claps, which is totally mesmerising to watch.

Set in Blackpool, the film’s protagonist uses Northern Soul dance as a process for healing. Northern Soul is not very well known by youth today, but Butler hopes her film shines a light on a joyful and inclusive culture for a new generation to enjoy.

Tell us a bit about you, your background and career.
I’m an actor, writer and producer from Blackpool, now living in London. I studied acting at Arts University Bournemouth and after graduating had a stint acting in Japan, which was wild! My creative work is now evolving to focus on film and screen. It feels empowering to make my own work.

What’s it like being a working-class female filmmaker today and do you think it is easier now than it has been in the past?
I’m sure it is easier now than previously… but it still feels incredibly competitive! I think it will just take a lot of graft. A lot of this industry is having the stamina to stick out the rough patches. Coming from a working-class background, aside from having no money, also often means no connections. So finding our own industry contacts and working on those relationships is key.

I missed so much about the North, particularly the community spirit. Also missed a Sunday roast, but I did manage to cook some dodgy versions in one pan…

Do you draw inspiration from any other working-class women in the industry?
Andrea Arnold. Fish Tank is a great example of showing a working-class environment but finding beauty and artistry at the same time. Charlotte Wells’a feature debut Aftersun was just stunning. Massively inspiring.

Tell us more about living and acting in Tokyo.
Tokyo was wacky and wonderful. It’s alive and full of magic. My acting jobs there varied drastically, from kids TV to a HBO show. I was super lucky to be part of a small pool of trained actors there during Covid, so there were plenty of jobs going around.

Do you think your time away was what drew you to making something so distinctly Northern on your return?
Absolutely. Being away from home gave me so much time to reflect and I found myself comparing the two places a lot. I missed so much about the North, particularly the community spirit. Also missed a Sunday roast, but I did manage to cook some dodgy versions in one pan…

Tell us about Blackpool’s place in Northern Soul history and tell us about making the film here.
Blackpool Mecca was a popular hotspot in the early days of Northern Soul (this is now the bingo hall!). Making the film in Blackpool felt pretty emotional at times, but it was also hilarious. We had quite a few curious locals. It gets a lot of stick as a place, but there are so many iconic things there. I love spotting Blackpool tower in the back of a shot. I had the help of loads of my family, they lent us props and gave their time as extras which was very wholesome.

What’s your connection to Northern Soul – being too young to have been around when it was at its height – and why were you drawn to make a film about it?
I think it’s mesmerising to watch and I just wanted to share the joy of it. When I began writing the piece I kept showing my friends videos on YouTube of Wigan Casino in the ‘70s. It’s just a very cool way to move and the outfits were so full of individuality.

The ‘70s are having a bit of a revival at the moment, why do you think that is and can you see Northern Soul becoming popular again with a new generation?
There are still hotspots around the UK and the Northern Soul community are amazing and so passionate. They helped to point me in the right direction many times during pre-production with help on music and dancers on the scene. There are also definitely still young people going to Northern Soul events. There’s a duo that run Deptford Northern Soul Club, their nights are more targeted to the younger crowd. I love seeing pics of young people in the Northern Soul getup getting down on the dance floor.

How is Northern Soul used as a process for healing in the film?
The word that first comes to mind when I think of Northern Soul is joy. In our film, our central character is struggling and in a rocky place. Picking up Northern Soul dancing again is something that brings him joy.

Where can we see the film?
We’re currently in the edit room. Hopefully we’ll be on the film festival circuit from the end of summer…

Photos by @giselaszlatoszlavek/

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    Antonia Charlesworth Stack is a journalist and editor from Blackpool. She was deputy editor of Big Issue North magazine and is editor of Blackpool Social Club. Antonia is also the founder of Reclaim Blackpool, a women's safety campaign that began life as an article she wrote for Blackpool Social Club. She's a contributing author to the Lancashire Stories anthology with her story about a Blackpool performer, The Call of The Sea. The book is available for free in libraries across the county.

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