INTERVIEW: Ian Puleston-Davies talks all things Liverpool ahead of Bolan’s Shoes release

With one month to go until the cinematic release of Bolan’s Shoes, the Liverpool Film Office sat down with writer/director Ian Puleston-Davies to talk about bringing the production to the Liverpool City Region.

Away from his successful acting career, Ian’s directorial debut for multi–award winning Bolan’s Shoes will forever tie his name to Liverpool.

Starring Timothy Spall (The Sixth Commandment, Harry Potter franchise), Leanne Best (A Town Called Malice, Ted Lasso), Mark Lewis Jones (The Crown, Gangs of London) and Mathew Horne (Gavin and Stacey, Bad Education), Bolan’s Shoes takes audiences through the height of T.Rex mania in 1970s Liverpool.

It captures the experiences of over-excited kids from a local children’s home before a devastating road accident changes their lives forever. Years later, survivor Penny takes best friend and fellow Marc Bolan fan, Steffan, to visit his shrine in London, but a chance encounter there takes her back to the past.

Produced By Buffalo Dragon, the production worked with Liverpool Film Office to film scenes at key locations across the Liverpool City Region including Exchange Street West, the Royal Court, Royal Albert Dock, Pier Head, Lime Street Station, Mathew Street, Falkner Street and Port Sunlight over 21 days in Summer 2021. While some scenes were also filmed at Anglesey.

Ian Puleston-Davies at British Music Experience in front of T.Rex exhibit

According to Ian, there was never any other place to bring the production: “As kids growing up over the border in Wales, we always looked to Liverpool for excitement and inspiration. Liverpool was always about the Beatles and the football teams – it was our mecca.

“So aged around eight or nine, driving through the Mersey tunnel and coming out in Liverpool was like Dorothy waking up in technicolour Oz. I’m not saying that where I grew up was black and white, it certainly wasn’t, but there was just something special and magical about the city.

“And as I got older, I became aware of the city’s incredible history, it’s architecture and of course it’s wonderful nightlife.

“In all these years as an actor, whenever I’ve turned up to shoot something in Liverpool, I’ve had this extra buzz of excitement, more than any other city really, sorry Manchester, but it’s true – the same buzz I had as a kid.”

Before penning Bolan’s Shoes, Ian had recently read the autobiography of friend and Liverpool-born actor Paul Barber (Only Fools and Horses, The Full Monty) which lifts the lid on living in children’s homes in Liverpool in the 60s and 70s.

“It’s a beautiful read and it gave me a purpose, I just knew I had to write something to do with children’s homes in Liverpool. It became a part of the jigsaw, one of the many pieces I needed to write the script”, said Ian.

“All these pieces that I felt had to be under the watchful eyes of the Liver Birds. It was like the stars were beginning to align. I had this lovely backstory, next was the music. As glam rock was very much a part of my own life’s sound track,  I wanted very much wanted something from that era. I chose Marc Bolan because I needed the fans to be extra special fans – eccentric fans, if you like. All bands have their fans but Marc Bolan’s fans, I think, really are totally unique. It’s almost a religion to them, with Marc being their ‘saviour’. So, bit by bit, this patchwork quilt of ideas was slowly being sewn together!”

Facilitated by the Liverpool Film Office, the team worked closely with the production to ensure they had access to facilities, local crew and locations. “To be honest, I don’t believe you can attempt to make a film in Liverpool unless you have the guidance of the Liverpool Film Office. They’re like your big brother. I felt it was essential from the very beginning that we approached them. It all worked out really well and we ended up with some beautiful locations.

“I have to shout out to Kevin, Sharon and Zoe as they were hugely helpful and instrumental in all this. Without the film office we wouldn’t have had the permission we needed.”

And looking forward to the film’s premiere taking place in the city next month, “It couldn’t be anywhere else of course. It’s funny, whenever anyone mentions the word ‘premiere’, I start to tremble. I’m going to be so nervous on the night, as are, Greg and Terri our exec producers.”

“The cast and crew are going to be seeing it for the first time. And, fortunately, Timothy Spall and Leanne Best, our two leads, busy as they are, have been given the night off to attend! I’ve even got a few of me old mates who I grew up with in my hometown of Flint, coming through the tunnel to check the film out… No pressure then!”

Bolan’s Shoes will be in cinemas from 15 September. For more information visit Buffalo Dragon’s website.