Bryan Elsley’s (Skins, Dates) Kiss Me First, an innovative, state-of-the-art thriller and co-production from Kindle Entertainment and Balloon Entertainment for E4 and Netflix has begun filming with a cast of rising stars.
Tallulah Haddon (The Living and The Dead) will play the central role of Leila, a lonely, reserved 19-year-old who becomes addicted to a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) called Azana. While on the site, Leila meets Tess, played by Simona Brown (The Night Manager), a cool, confident party girl who harbours a dark secret.
Tess invites Leila into Red Pill, a secretive, invite-only part of Azana’s virtual world led by charming and manipulative, Adrian. Although the young adult members of Red Pill have never, in the real world, met Adrian – whose avatar is voiced by Matthew Beard (And When Did You Last See Your Father?, The Riot Club) – they all instinctively trust in his leadership. Unbeknownst to them, Red Pill members have been cherry-picked; They all feel isolated in their home lives, preferring to congregate online, hiding behind their avatars. Red Pill consists of Calumny (George Jovanovic), Force (Freddie Stewart), Jocasta (Misha Butler), Tippi (Haruka Abe) and Denier (Samuel Bottomley) – all have been personally selected by Adrian – but to what end?
Offline, Leila and Tess soon become close, but after Tess disappears, Leila is drawn into unravelling the mystery behind her disappearance. Completing the cast is Matthew Aubrey (The Passing Bells) who plays Jonty, a wannabe actor and Leila’s jovial housemate, who has no clue as to Leila’s online life.
The 6 x 60’ E4 thriller will combine live action with stunning state-of-the-art computer-generated virtual world sequences to create the parallel worlds of Leila and Tess’ real life and that of their online alter-egos, Shadowfax and Mania.
Kiss Me First continues filming until mid-2017 shooting on location in London and Croatia. It will premiere on E4 in the UK with Netflix premiering the series globally outside the UK. The directors are Misha Manson-Smith and Tom Green.
Bryan Elsley, writer and Executive Producer said: “I’m delighted to be involved in such an innovative project. I’m looking forward to sharing this beautiful marriage between animation and live action in drama.”
Simon Maxwell Channel 4’s Head of International Drama said: “With Kiss Me First, Bryan Elsley offers us a uniquely authored thriller for the digital age, exploring the fragmentation of identity and reality that’s become a phenomenon of the gaming generation. What do we become when we can be whatever we want?
Our story tackles this question from every angle – in its most positive, empowering sense and at its darkest and most terrifying. Bryan’s vision has been vividly brought to life by the talents of our young cast, the direction of Misha Manson-Smith and Tom Green and the ground-breaking animation of Axis, into a show unlike any seen before on E4. “
Melanie Stokes Joint Managing Director, Kindle Entertainment and Executive Producer said: “I have wanted to create a drama that captures the way the net has impacted young people’s lives and identities for some time. And the combination of Lottie Moggach’’s brilliant debut novel and Bryan’s utterly original response to that proposition delivers far more than I could have ever have hoped for.”
Kiss Me First (6 x 60’) is adapted from Lottie Moggach’s best-selling novel by Bryan Elsley (Skins, Dates). The series will be produced by BAFTA-winning, Kindle Entertainment (Treasure Island, Some Dogs Bite) and Balloon Entertainment (the production company co-owned by Bryan Elsley and Harry Enfield) for E4 and Netflix. Bryan Elsley and Melanie Stokes (Treasure Island, Some Dogs Bite) are Executive Producers on the project and Bradley Adams (The Crow Road, Dates, Harry and Paul’s History of the Two’s) is the Producer. Kiss Me First was commissioned for E4 by Head of Drama Beth Willis and Simon Maxwell Channel 4’s Head of International Drama.