Introducing... Reggie Yates

"Representation matters and it's a big deal to me to show a different version of the black experience, and also shine a light on a subculture I really care about."

Neil Smith

12 Nov 21


Reggie Yates is the English writer/director of Pirates, a laugh-out-loud comedy set in London about three teenage friends trying to get into an exclusive party on New Year's Eve, 1999. It's the first feature for Yates, who began as a child actor before becoming a well-known presenter on television and radio. Having made documentaries, directed short films and written 2020 drama Make Me Famous, however, he's certainly no stranger to filmmaking.

On his inspiration for Pirates…

"The dream was to tell a story that reflected my version of London. There's lots of different Londons, depending on who you are and who you're around, and traditionally we've always seen a similar version when it comes to young men of colour – the tough, scary, gun-toting version. The version of inner-city London in the film is one that's seldom shown on the big screen, one with kids who don't necessarily have to deal with the bigger things we've seen over and over again. The kids in the film are dealing with what kids should be dealing with: coming of age, friendship and love."

On setting the film on New Year's Eve, 1999…

"It was a flag-in-the-sand moment for so many people: the world was changing, there were a lot of rumours about the Y2K bug and lots of other stuff flying around. I was in my teens so it was a formative time, when the UK garage scene was at its peak. For anybody who was involved in the scene, myself included, it was the most exciting time in the world, ever. So for many reasons it felt like the perfect night to set this story of three teenagers around."

On being shut down by the pandemic…

"We got stopped by Covid 10 days from wrap, which was heartbreaking for everyone. It was a small, independent British film so everybody was worried; we didn't know if we were going to come back. For a first-time writer-director, there's nothing worse than a production being stopped and it not being your fault! But the fact we got to come back and finish the film 10 months later was awesome, and I'm really proud of what we did, regardless of how difficult the circumstances were."

On his hopes for Pirates…

"I just want people to have a good time. It's a great Friday night out, with a soundtrack that will put you in the mood for a garage night straight after! Representation matters and it's a big deal to me to show a different version of the black experience, and also shine a light on a subculture I really care about. More than anything, though, I want people to laugh and have fun."  Neil Smith

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