Film based around the life of Wolverhampton author Caitlin Moran to debut

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

A film based around the life of renowned Wolverhampton author Caitlin Moran is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival today.

Filming How to Build a Girl in Wolverhampton with Beanie. Picture: Kirstin Hogg

The movie, which shares its title with the 2014 best selling novel How to Build a Girl, dives into the journalist's auto-biographical story of growing up on a council estate.

Produced by Film4 and Lionsgate, it is set to arrive in the UK in the New Year – featuring stars including Emma Thompson, Chris O'Dowd, Paddy Considine, Alfie Allen, Jameela Jamil and US actress Beanie Feldstein.

Ms Feldstein will take up the lead role of Johanna Morrigan, a Wolverhampton teenager in the 1990s who has an urge to reinvent herself by moving to London.

The character answers the call from a music magazine for new writers, and despite knowing nothing about contemporary music, starts reviewing concerts and records.

But sensing that sarcasm earns her more favour with her editors, Johanna reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – who soon becomes renowned for her take-downs of people.

Filming started in July last year, with the glitz and glam of Hollywood descending on the city in September.

Caitlin Moran

The cast and crew of the film were on location on the Warstones estate – near to where the Wolverhampton writer grew up.


And filming for the Monumental Pictures movie also took place in the city centre, near to the Civic buildings, and the city's train station.

Ms Feldstein, sister of Jonah Hill, even spent a number of days working in a shop in the city centre to perfect her Black Country accent.

The American actress said: "The women making this movie are the most warm, bright, powerful, passionate women ever to exist. I've never been more honored than to join them on this journey to Wolverhampton, England.

Thank you for creating the girl I get to build. You're astonishing."


The film, which runs for one hour and 42 minutes, has been directed by BAFTA-nominated Coky Giedroyc who has been involved with a number of short films.

And Emma Thompson, known for her roles in Nanny McPhee and Love Actually, will be playing Johanna's editor in the movie.

Beanie Feldstein is starring in the movie version of Caitlin Moran's novel. Picture: Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstoc

Alison Owen, a producer of the film, said: “We are excited that Caitlin’s brilliant literary heroine is finally making it to the big screen, and can’t think of anybody more inspiring than Beanie to bring Caitlin’s exquisitely funny character to life.”

Fellow producer Debra Hayward added: “We’ve been incredibly lucky to add Paddy Considine and Sarah Solemani, as Johanna’s ‘unconventional parents’, to our already stellar cast. And there are more surprises to come.”

And author Caitlin Moran even tweeted last week to inform people of the world premiere.

She posted: "See you there for Beanie Feldstein being a teenage me far, far better than I ever was."

Wolverhampton band Looking Back will perform the theme song for the movie, with their self-penned song "Can Anybody Hear Me" chosen.

Band member Derek Ridgway

The band, having been together, recorded the song in 2015 and soon came to the attention of film editor Gareth Scales.

Singer an guitarist Derek Ridgeway and keyboard player and singer Darron Hickey spoke with Mr Scales, a longtime friend of the guitarist.

Derek said: "It was totally unexpected and a reaI surprise. It was a strange coincidence really, as the song and its lyrics fit the theme of the film perfectly,"

"It always gets a fantastic response when we play it live, and I'm absolutely thrilled to get some recognition after writing songs and playing since the 1970s. We can now say we are professional songwriters, which is a tremendous feeling."

The guitarist met Gareth during a trip to Vancouver, Canada, with the editor emailing him to ask if they had any songs for the film.

"We sent him everything we had and it turned out that 'Can Anybody Hear Me' was exactly what the film was looking for. Me and the other guys are absolutely over the moon about them using it and hopefully we'll get to go to the UK premiere – and even perform the song live there if they want us to. That would be brilliant to do," he said.

Wolverhampton band Looking Back, who have been together since 2013, have now had their self-penned song 'Can Anybody Hear Me' chosen to be the theme song for the film.

The song, which can be heard on CD Baby, Spotify and Deezer along with both of Looking Back's original albums, was recorded in Shrewsbury and mixed by the band's sound engineer Nick Whitehurst. It can be found under Looking Back UK.

As well as Derek and Darron, the record also features Ian Nicholls on lead guitar, Henry Bradley on bass and Pete Hoggins on drums, who are all from Wolverhampton. The whole band added backing vocals after recording the initial track.

Looking Back, who gig extensively across the region and have headlined a number of top festivals, have put touring on the backburner for the moment to make way for promotional work to publicise the song.

They recently toured with the addition of new bass guitarist James Robinson after Henry Bradley departed, and then again later as a three-piece.

Derek added: "We've had some fantastic feedback from everyone who has heard the song and they all say it has hit single written all over it. So hopefully the next move for us is to get it released as a single," he said.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at


Top Stories


More from the Express & Star

UK & International News