The House of Abraham Phillips

  • Format Feature Film
  • Status In Development
  • Genre Drama | Historical
  • Language en | cy
  • Audience Teens | Adults
  • Rating PG-13
  • Total Run Time 99 mins
  • Synopsis

     

    This is the story of John Phillips, the story of a disaster that changes his life for ever.

    The Garth mountain rises above the small Welsh mining village of Gwaelod-y-Garth where John lives with his family. It is in stark contrast to the industry that blackens the valley floor, crowding out birdsong and scarring the countryside. Life is hard in Gwaelod-y-Garth. John and the other miners – men, women and children – lead grim underground lives, seldom seeing the light of day. Their work is physically demanding and dangerous – accidents are inevitable.

    John is a passionate young miner. He drinks, gambles and womanises. He has an on-off relationship with Hannah, but can’t seem to commit to anything – until he sees a child die underground and bonds with Dan, an immigrant from Ireland who bears the brunt of Welsh prejudice. Their relationship lies at the heart of this story. Haunted by the child’s cries of agony and urged on by Dan, John wants to change things, to make a difference.

    He tries to unionise the Lan coal mine. His rousing speeches strike a chord with many of the men. John’s grandfather Shon agrees with him, but he clashes with his father Abraham who believes that direct action and conflict will change nothing. Abraham knows from experience the price paid for opposing the system. When his father is promoted to overman, John sees him as a traitor: he is following Booker’s orders when he should be protecting his men.

    Hannah soon realises that she and John have no future, but with Philip, John’s brother, it’s different. Philip is no miner. He has left Gwaelod to work in Liverpool – and Hannah wants her future to tell a different story. No more coal, no more Lan. When she asks Philip to take her to Liverpool, it’s a new start for them both.

    John has no time for the masters who rule Wales. At the Lan mine, Thomas Booker, the wealthy young pit owner, has no experience of industry. Roof falls are not repaired and he is oblivious to his workers’ safety. He has brought in Seymour, an aggressive English pit manager who hates the Welsh and is hated in return. Days before Christmas, there is a massive explosion in the Lan. Fire tears through the tunnels, roof falls block the way, and screams fill the air as panic-stricken miners try to flee. Men and children lose their lives; Abraham dies saving his men; and Dan dies in John’s arms. The effect on the village is devastating and rumours quickly spread: Abraham knew there was gas at the workface and took his men down knowing the danger. John is angry with his father – he cannot forgive him for leading men to their deaths; he cannot forgive him for Dan’s death. The full story comes out at the inquest and Abraham is charged with negligence. John and his family must find a way to cope with the fallout from this verdict. His mother Jemima faces the loss of her husband, her reputation, her livelihood and her home, but she must bring her warring family back together. It falls to her to tell Booker what she thinks of him. Jemima is a strong woman and she leaves him speechless.

    Time passes. It is autumn, 1910. The streets of Tonypandy are full of striking miners. They walk forward, row after row of determined faces. John heads down a narrow street towards the raised guns of the Metropolitan Police. He is a union man under the banner fighting for a fair wage and safe working conditions. Remembering Dan, John walks forward, his arms raised, open, conciliatory as the guns fire.

Synopsis

Love. Hate. Forgiveness. In a brutal world, none of us can survive alone.

 

This is the story of John Phillips, the story of a disaster that changes his life for ever.

The Garth mountain rises above the small Welsh mining village of Gwaelod-y-Garth where John lives with his family. It is in stark contrast to the industry that blackens the valley floor, crowding out birdsong and scarring the countryside. Life is hard in Gwaelod-y-Garth. John and the other miners – men, women and children – lead grim underground lives, seldom seeing the light of day. Their work is physically demanding and dangerous – accidents are inevitable.

John is a passionate young miner. He drinks, gambles and womanises. He has an on-off relationship with Hannah, but can’t seem to commit to anything – until he sees a child die underground and bonds with Dan, an immigrant from Ireland who bears the brunt of Welsh prejudice. Their relationship lies at the heart of this story. Haunted by the child’s cries of agony and urged on by Dan, John wants to change things, to make a difference.

He tries to unionise the Lan coal mine. His rousing speeches strike a chord with many of the men. John’s grandfather Shon agrees with him, but he clashes with his father Abraham who believes that direct action and conflict will change nothing. Abraham knows from experience the price paid for opposing the system. When his father is promoted to overman, John sees him as a traitor: he is following Booker’s orders when he should be protecting his men.

Hannah soon realises that she and John have no future, but with Philip, John’s brother, it’s different. Philip is no miner. He has left Gwaelod to work in Liverpool – and Hannah wants her future to tell a different story. No more coal, no more Lan. When she asks Philip to take her to Liverpool, it’s a new start for them both.

John has no time for the masters who rule Wales. At the Lan mine, Thomas Booker, the wealthy young pit owner, has no experience of industry. Roof falls are not repaired and he is oblivious to his workers’ safety. He has brought in Seymour, an aggressive English pit manager who hates the Welsh and is hated in return. Days before Christmas, there is a massive explosion in the Lan. Fire tears through the tunnels, roof falls block the way, and screams fill the air as panic-stricken miners try to flee. Men and children lose their lives; Abraham dies saving his men; and Dan dies in John’s arms. The effect on the village is devastating and rumours quickly spread: Abraham knew there was gas at the workface and took his men down knowing the danger. John is angry with his father – he cannot forgive him for leading men to their deaths; he cannot forgive him for Dan’s death. The full story comes out at the inquest and Abraham is charged with negligence. John and his family must find a way to cope with the fallout from this verdict. His mother Jemima faces the loss of her husband, her reputation, her livelihood and her home, but she must bring her warring family back together. It falls to her to tell Booker what she thinks of him. Jemima is a strong woman and she leaves him speechless.

Time passes. It is autumn, 1910. The streets of Tonypandy are full of striking miners. They walk forward, row after row of determined faces. John heads down a narrow street towards the raised guns of the Metropolitan Police. He is a union man under the banner fighting for a fair wage and safe working conditions. Remembering Dan, John walks forward, his arms raised, open, conciliatory as the guns fire.

  • Characters ABRAHAM PHILLIPS

    Abraham is a family man in his mid to late fifties. Promoted to Overman at the Lan mine, he is still a collier at heart, well liked and trusted by his men. His eldest son John and his father Shon, on the other hand, believe he has betrayed his men by working for Booker, the coal master.

    JEMIMA PHILLIPS

    Jemima is a dutiful wife and mother in her late forties. A woman of strong views, she is torn between her first-born son and her husband. Understanding them both, she takes the role of peacemaker.

    JOHN PHILLIPS John, a miner like his father, is the eldest son of the Phillips family. He and his father argue constantly. PHILIP PHILLIPS Philip is the younger son of Abraham. He leaves the village to work in Thomas Booker’s Liverpool offices. SHON O’R LAN (John of the Lan) Shon is Abraham’s father, a bit of a philosopher and a man of strong views. He and his son can’t agree about the promotion Abraham has accepted. Shon believes in progress and argues, like his grandson, for the role of unions as the only way to improve miners’ lives. DAN MALONE Dan is an immigrant from Ireland. He is about the same age as John and they share the same political views.
  • Director Gabriel Beristain

    Gabriel Beristain is an internationally celebrated Feature film and television Cinematographer with a vast resume of well known films and television shows. Recently he has evolved into directing and as a producer he is developing a solid slate of cross over projects mainly through his Company Vedado Films. 

  • Writer Joseph Thorne Joseph Thorne is a published writer on the nineteenth century with a keen interest in film. For him, The House of Abraham Phillips tells a timeless human story – a story that will be brought to life by the big screen.
  • Author Norma Procter

    Following study at London University's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Norma worked in the Voice and Speech faculty at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Her books "Singing your Name", "Daisy", "Love is the Fire", 'Jew Boy" and "The House of Abraham Phillips are available from Amazon.

    She runs Projects to ensure the history of the Lan is part of everyone’s education
  • Producers Ruth Caleb A multi-award-winning producer, Ruth Caleb was the BBC’s first female head of drama and she has a string of high-profile production credits to her name. In the 1990s, she was appointed Head of Drama at BBC Wales, and then became Acting Head of the BBC’s Drama Group, overseeing seven areas of drama. Sacha Rodríguez

    A producer who is passionate about making films, Sacha Rodriguez joins Gabriel Beristain, and together, they lay the foundations for Vedado’s filmed entertainment division, produce a feature length documentary and the feature film "Havana Kyrie" starring Franco Nero and Ron Perlman - and embark on development of a new slate of screen titles including the upcoming feature film "The House of Abraham Phillips", in collaboration with The Lan Film Company in Wales.

  • Co-Producer Sam Odlum A producer with a creative approach, Sam Odlum sees The House of Abraham Phillips as a story that is more relevant than ever in the current day - it’s a story that could help incite change while entertaining and educating audiences about Wales’ past and the passionate Welsh spirit.
  • Line Producer Cheryl Davies Keatley

    Locally based in Wales and with over 30 years’ experience in film and television, Cheryl Davies Keatley has worked on many successful films such as Say My Name (Best Welsh Feature Film, Cardiff International Film Festival 2018) and the award-winning Skellig and Patagonia. Recent credits include line manager on In My Skin (two BAFTA awards, 2019), and producer on Down The Caravan (Accolade Global Film Award; Best Welsh Film, Cardiff International Film Festival, 2019).

  • Executive Producer Christopher Monger An award-winning screenwriter and director, Christopher Monger sees The House of Abraham Phillips engaging new audiences with the story of Wales – recovering the dark history of this doomed mine reinvigorates a past that should not be forgotten.
  • Documents
    The House of Abraham Phillips - Pitch Deck
    23/07/2020
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