My pitch to James and Bob

Adam Rolston recently stepped into the spotlight when he successfully pitched for the film rights to A STREETCAT NAMED BOB, the best-selling story of two lost souls on the streets of London who saved one another from a dismal fate.

Ginger tom Bob may be the poster boy, but the core of the story is James Bowen’s recovery from drug addiction. “The key was to not shy away from this, while keeping the story accessible to a wider audience,” says Rolston. ” It was difficult to convince them that I could get a feature film off the ground, as this is my first film, but thankfully James and Team Bob felt I was the right producer to entrust with their story.”

Biopics are usually about historical figures and dead celebrities. Rolston and his director Roger Spottiswoode were in the unusual position of shooting with their real subjects live on location – Bob even portraying himself (assisted by stunt doubles where necessary). “I hadn’t envisaged James and Bob being on set everyday,”, says Rolston. “However, I always felt it was so unique that the subjects of the film would be around to engage with their audience come the release of the film. It’s such a feel good piece, and James and Bob continue to remain inseparable friends.”

Unlike most animal focussed films, A STREETCAT NAMED BOB doesn’t fridge the cat for sentimentality. “There’s no animal peril,” Rolston assures me. This comes as a great relief – to this day, the only scenes in AMERICAN PSYCHO I can’t handle are the dog stomping and the feeding of the stray cat to the ATM. “Bob is still alive and an extremely healthy cat,” says Rolston. “Audiences are moved at the end because of the journey that James goes through. It’s a story of redemption and second chances, and hope.” When researching the story, the director and cast spoke to Dr Arun Dhandayudham and his team at the Westminster Drug Project. Lead actors Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas and Joanne Froggatt spent a day at one of their clinics talking with real addicts and key workers. In preparation for his role, Luke Treadaway spent a lot of time with James Bowen. “James even showed Luke various spots around London where he used to sleep rough,” says Rolston. “Luke then decided that he should also experience sleeping rough, and he spent one night doing so in Covent Garden – with security nearby just in case!”

The screenplay was co-written by Tim John, known for DR JEKYLL AND MS HYDE and TV’s Max Headroom, and veteran writer Maria Nation who found worldwide success with her screenplay for the TV biopic THE GABBY DOUGLAS STORY. (Matthew Toffolo has published a great interview with Maria, with tons of advice which would-be screenwriters will find invaluable.)

On bookshelves the story continues – there are now about seven Bob-related books. On screen, a sequel is already in early discussions. I haven’t been able to preview the film but I’ve watched the trailer and my only criticism is: the stunt cats’ noses are too big. Bob’s is cuter. However, the film contains traces of Anthony Head (playing James’ dad) which makes up for this entirely.

The release date for A STREETCAT NAMED BOB is Friday 4th November.


Leave A Comment