The night we filmed No Way Home – Stop the Traffick on the streets of London was a very interesting and illuminating one. I’d brought along a retired Scotland Yard police officer. He wishes to remain anonymous, but was basically our point man during every stage of pre-shoot and filming. We ran all our decisions via him to make sure that the film was believable and that we were hitting the right tone with the characters we were playing. I wanted to ensure nothing felt forced or contrived in either the dialogue or performances.We also had an ex-prostitute advising us. She guided us and explained how the victims of human trafficking usually get caught up in this situation: through sheer desperation and being mislead and manipulated by the traffickers. She told us the story of when she was kidnapped by traffickers and this put Rosa, our lead actress who plays a trafficked girl, in the right emotional state even before we started filming: she was scared.
But the harrowing drama didn’t just unfold on camera. The main dramatic event happened while we were filming. Our actresses were standing on the side of the road. They were all in costume and in character. Immediately, a group of youths accosted one of our actresses in a highly aggressive manner. The youths clearly felt they had the reprehensible right to say what they wanted to do to her, just because of the suggestive clothes she was wearing for her character.Our police rep quickly stepped in, but this almost excited the youths more. I jumped out of the car and got the actresses out of harm’s way. The youths walked away, but then returned a second time with their hoods pulled up, clearly intent on looking for trouble. We held our ground and eventually, I think the youths became concerned we were part of an undercover police operation, so they backed off.
After our nerves settled, we continued with the shoot. That energy/ fear transferred well on camera. But the experience also left all cast and crew members feeling vulnerable and unsafe. The girls, in particular, felt violated.Paradoxically, I think this gave us a genuine perspective on what the victims of human trafficking, who are being enslaved against their will, feel like. That was the moment I made the decision to continue filming. I wanted to honour the harrowing plight of the victims of human trafficking by understanding – and helping others understand – their horrific journey in life. We must all do what we can to help them.
Everybody involved in the cast & crew came together to make this short film for no money – because we hoped we might be able to help in some way. I am so grateful to all involved and to the United Nations, PSA and CNN for giving me this opportunity to highlight the plight of victims.
Raffaello DeGruttola is a filmmaker, writer, director, actor and Mental Ideas Ambassador from London. Want your film to be featured on Mental Ideas? Drop us an email introducing yourself and your work!
Mental Ideas Ambassador & Filmmaker Raff DeGruttola Makes a Speech at the UN
Filmmaker Raffaello DeGruttola at the UN with PSA’s Tony Schiena