Interview: Sex, surveillance and gay royals

Natalie Relph July 13, 2007
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Surveillance is a fast paced sexual and political thriller set in London.

It stars Tom Harper as Adam, a gay teacher who lives in Surrey and comes to London on the weekends to go clubbing and pick up men.

A casual encounter with a handsome stranger, Jake (Sean Brenden Brosnan) brings Adam to the attention of powerful, unseen forces.

They rob him of his job and follow his every move.

Suddenly, Adam’s life is a mess, and he’s in serious danger. But why him?

Then Adam discovers that Jake planted on him the only evidence of an affair with a gay royal.

When Jake is found dead, Adam is forced to go on the run.

Director Paul Oremland shot the film using surveillance media techniques, such as CCTV, web cam, mobile phone cameras and video recorders. spoke to Tom Harper about his role as Adam.

What interested you in this role?

I was interested in the idea of not being able to escape from an unseen enemy, I also enjoyed the script on my first read, although it took a few readings before I fully understood what was going on.

Surveillance is a film about a gay teacher who is monitored by CCTV and via his web use. Do you think that privacy is downgraded at the cost of public safety?

It seems to me there are two trains of thought on this issue; some people say if you aren’t breaking the law why should you worry about constant surveillance. Other’s say it’s offensive to personal liberty and freedom.

I think the very nature of surveillance can potentially breed a subtle sense of paranoia and distrust. In my everyday experience however, I barely register the cameras everywhere, they are certainly not a preoccupation for me.

I guess my choice of occupation, to be an actor, in itself suggests a comfortableness in being in front of the camera.

How much do you think surveillance is changing and will change the nature of society in a democratic nation?

I think out culture is changing enormously, partly as a result of CCTV.

Can democracy function better with CCTV or will it be destroyed? Who is doing the watching and what is their agenda?

We live in a society obsessed with celebrities, Big Brother, Katie and Peter, Brad and Ang, we lap up the latest antics of so and so in and out of rehab, all the while being silently filmed ourselves every second of every day.

How far do you agree with the messages in this film?

Regarding the ‘gay royal’ aspect of the story, I hope we can one day look at society and see that it is able to embrace any aspect of an individual or group identity, that things wouldn’t have to be hidden away for fear of condemnation.

That all people are measured on the quality of their abilities and potential and are not degraded or diminished for their sexuality, race or gender.

Regarding the message about surveillance there is something quite cyclical about the overall message, that the very medium which threatens the protagonist’s life and reputation also ends up being his saving grace.

Do you have a favourite genre of film that you like to work in?

I love period pieces!

What is next for you?

I am currently working on a film called Telstar, written and directed by Nick Moran and starring Kevin Spacer. It is the story of 1960s producer Joe Meek.

I’m also doing some telly for ITV. I am at a point in my career where I hope to have some choice, but have to consider that there are bills to pay.

Surveillance will be available to download from 18th July on Download to rent/stream (£2.99) or own (£9.99) from

Surveillance also stars Simon Callow and Sean Brendan Brosnan.

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