Fast Girls is a 2011 British drama film directed by Regan Hall and written by Jay Basu, Noel Clarke and Roy Williams. It stars Lenora Crichlow, Lily James, Bradley James, Noel Clarke and Rupert Graves. The film follows the story of two women as they become professional sprinters and join the British relay team for a World Championship event. The film was launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, before having its world premiere in London on 7 June 2012. The film was released on 15 June in the United Kingdom.
Athlete Shania Andrews (Lenora Crichlow) competes against Lisa Temple (Lily James) at a local level, and have an ongoing rivalry as they work their way into the British 4×100 metres relay team and compete in the World Championships.
Casting was conducted in Regent's Park in London, where producer Damian Jones and first time movie director Regan Hall chose the four actresses who would become the 4×100 metre relay team in the film. The aim was to find actresses who would be believable on screen as athletes. The athletic extras in the film are from athletic clubs in London, Edinburgh and Loughborough.Lenora Crichlow as Shania Andrews; Crichlow had previously been best known for her main role in the BBC Three television series Being Human.Lily James as Lisa Temple; James wasn't able to participate in the audition in Regent's Park, but instead made a video recording of herself running for the casting.Bradley James as CarlNoel Clarke as TommyRupert Graves as David TempleLashana Lynch as BelleJake Pennington as Leo TemplePhil Davis as BrianLorraine Burroughs as TrixTiana Benjamin as TaraDominique Tipper as Sarah. Tripper had previously appeared in 2008's Adulthood, which was also written by and starring Noel Clarke.Hannah Frankson as Rachel
Discussion took place to decide whether or not to base the athletics competition in the film on the 2012 Summer Olympics. Due to the legal issues around trademark issues, it was instead decided to make the competition a fictional competition whilst working with UK Athletics. However, this decision was made after the International Olympic Committee refused for there to be any affiliation with the film. The script then had to be re-written to remove all traces of the Olympics, including all utterances of that word. Co-writer Noel Clarke took inspiration from Rocky, saying that if you made a sports film you'd want it to be the equivalent film to what Rocky was to boxing.
The actresses portraying athletes completed six weeks of intensive training at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre prior to the beginning of the shooting phase of the film, being trained by sprinters Jeanette Kwakye and Shani Anderson. The training sessions involved up to a thousand sit-ups each day, six days a week.
On the first day of shooting, Lenora Crichlow was diagnosed with stress fractures in her ankles which she attributed to running on track spikes without proper training. Body doubles were employed along with the use of certain camera angles to reduce the need to show Lenora running. By the time the film completed filming, she was keeping her feet on ice most of the time. Special flooring was laid during re-shoots in February 2012 in order to allow her to run more comfortably. Crichlow was pleased that the film features a staple feature of sports movies; a training montage.
The GB Qualifiers scene was filmed in Queen Elizabeth II track, Enfield. The Championships in Barcelona were filmed inside Lea Valley Athletic Centre, also in Enfield. The derelict track where Lenora's character trains is filmed in Feltham, West London.
The film was launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 as Hall's first full-length feature. Members of the film's cast were promoting the film at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival in order to secure an international distributor for the movie, with the rights pre-acquired for the UK distribution by StudioCanal UK at the time of the film's launch.
The premiere of the film took place in London's Leicester Square a few weeks ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics, also to be held in London. The red carpet was not traditionally plain, but instead had track markings on it to simulate an athletics track. Guests attending the premiere included British athlete Dame Kelly Holmes. It went on general release in the UK on 15 June 2012.
Leslie Felperin reviewed the film for Variety when it aired at Cannes. She felt that the portrait of the environments in the film felt credible and while the film was also technically solid, it was quite obvious when stand in athletes were used in long shots. Simon Reynolds saw the film for Digital Spy, saying that while it was entertaining, it was also cheesy and won't be considered a classic in the future. He gave the film three out of five stars. Mark Adams gave the film four out of five stars for the Daily Mirror, saying that it was an uplifting bit of pre-Olympics entertainment.