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On the night of one of her biggest fights, amateur boxer Chloe must try to keep her composure after the sudden appearance of her manipulative ex-boyfriend, Lee. His presence seems supportive but does he have ulterior motives?

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Chloe has one last shot to win her make or break fight, in her life she has had ups and downs, her highs come through her boxing, making her feel truly alive. However, Chloe's lows bring her back to reality. Not only fighting her own demons, Chole has had to prop up her ex-boyfriend's addictive lifestyle too. Lee is capable of throwing away everything Chloe has worked so hard for. As a couple they have had a turbulent and toxic ride. When confronted about the lies and manipulation, we find out that Lee has placed a large bet on Chole's boxing match.

This film represents those who are often overlooked. We wanted the film to be as emotionally raw as possible, documenting the struggles of working class people caught in harsh, perilous situations while also brining more film representation to the North East.

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When writing ‘Gut Punch’, I intended to create a film that gave a true representation of the Northeast, dealing with themes of toxic relationships, gender ideals and drug addiction.

On a surface level, the film is a boxing drama however at its core, it is a tragedy of the death of a relationship. Based on what I’ve experienced in past relationships, I wanted to portray the feeling of being trapped with a toxic person and the effect that can have on the other’s psyche. Writing Chloe’s character as a rising boxer, I intended to show that this type of emotional abuse can occur to anyone, no matter how physically strong they may be.

Avoiding a black and white depiction of my characters was instrumental when creating a realistic world for the film. Lee, a character who would be presented as the antagonist in a conventional narrative, was wrote to be a desperate drug addict who is at the end of his rope, drowning in debt. Although this doesn’t redeem his character, it gives a logical reason for why he is willing to betray the one person in his life who still cares about him. Lee is loosely based on the character of Johnny in Mike Leigh’s 1993 film ‘Naked’, a parasitic force who crashes into other people’s lives for his own benefit. Other inspirations for the film include the work of Ken Loach and Shane Meadows, whom each have contributed immensely to working-class British cinema.

The world of ‘Gut Punch’ is purposefully stripped down to reflect the grim reality of the characters’ lives. In another film, Chloe’s climatic fight would be set inside a grand arena, with hundreds of cheering fans. However, growing up in a poor area of Newcastle, I knew that avenue wouldn’t have stayed true to the gritty side of Northern England that I wanted to depict. Instead, Chloe’s bout takes place in a dingy working men’s club, with barely an audience to watch. This was a deliberate choice to show the harsh reality of the world the characters inhabit. Although the bout is smaller in scale compared to other contemporary boxing films, the mental battle Chloe faces when Lee re-enters her life is monumental in comparison.

My aim is to spark discourse on important subjects such as emotional abuse and mental health issues that many young people across the UK deal with on a regular basis. I also intend to give my home city a film that accurately represents living in the underbelly of the Northeast, which residents will not have had the experience seeing on the big screen before. I hope you enjoy our film. -Director, Tom Lawson

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