The Story Behind the Story: Rocks | Production Design

Friday, September 25, 2020


BIFA caught up with Production Designer Alice Normington to explore the look and feel of Rocks’ East London setting with some exclusive images from set.

BIFA: What are your favourite locations or sets in the film, why did you choose them?

This is where the girls meet. This was a key concept I had. We didn’t want the girl’s world to be depressing. The roof gave them a sense of being in the sky, a place they could meet, bond, enjoy their friendship on top of the world (their world ). They had all the different elements of London around them. Rich, poor, everything mixed together. It gives them freedom. We wanted the film to end with the same sense of freedom by the sea… endless sky and water.


This is Rocks’ private world. I spent time with Bukky [Rocks] and Kosar [Sumaya], visited their homes to understand their lives and how they lived. Again, we didn’t want their worlds to be depressing but have life, love, colour, texture and authenticity. We also had very little money so found a flat on the council estate that had been knocked through to give us space to build within, and create Shola’s world.


Kosar’s real family home was full of colour, Somalian magic, really inspiring. Her family had built a wonderful extension draped in pink fabric at the back of the house. I used this as inspiration for the rich colours in Sumaya’s home and the orange fabric draped tent at the back of the house . The preparation for the wedding at Sumaya’s house is a moment to show the vibrant family life she has. We erected a pop up tent at the back of the location, and created this from scratch as well, and completely redecorated a house on the estate.

BIFA: Why did you want to tell this story?
AN: I love working with Sarah [Gavron], and knew how passionate she was about this story. I have a teenage daughter who is a similar age to the girls [at the time of filming]. I am a Londoner, brought up in multi-racial South London and wanted to learn about her generation and their world. I’m excited about her seeing this (and my son too, it’s not just for girls).

BIFA: What are your favourite films about London or about teenagers?
AN: I couldn’t think of a film made about teenage girls in London that I’d seen and my daughter could relate to. That’s another reason I think Rocks is special. It tells a unique story and insight into current London.

Rocks is out now in cinemas. Check out to find a screening near you. 

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