Production Notes

Press Notes on Tiger Raid



























TIGER RAID is a visceral and intelligent thriller. A provocative and revelatory journey into the dark hearts of men.


TIGER RAID is the story of two mercenaries, bound together by a job, haunted by demons from their pasts, and unable to face the truth of who they are.


Joe and Paddy are members of a private security crew working in the Middle East. They have been assigned to kidnap the daughter of a powerful man as part of a major robbery – a Tiger Raid.

We meet them as they travel through the inhospitable desert on their way to do the raid. Joe, the older of the two, carries a brutal and unrepentant view of the world, defined by fear and adoration of their invisible but omnipresent boss, Dave. Paddy is younger and recklessly ambitious, hungry to progress through the ranks of the crew. Neither man trusts the other as they tell half truths and stories of previous victories in a battle to determine who controls this increasingly volatile situation.

Both men have lost loves; Joe is haunted by visions of the beautiful Marylyn while Paddy is fixated on the loss of his Arab girlfriend, whose disapproving family took her away from him. As they approach the kidnap site, Paddy gets a call from Dave telling him to kill Joe once the job is done, effectively becoming his executioner-in-waiting. Just as the two men were beginning to trust each other.

The kidnap is orchestrated with cold, hard professionalism, until the true identity of their hostage is discovered and events start to spiral dangerously out of control. Joe and Paddy must each deal with the dark truths of their pasts if they are to escape the raid alive.


TIGER RAID is the first film from DIXON BAXI EVANS, a new production company created to produce the work of Simon Dixon, Aporva Baxi and Gareth Coulam Evans.

TIGER RAID is Director and Co-Writer Simon Dixon’s first feature film. He is also Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director of the International brand agency DixonBaxi, working with leading Media clients including SONY, NBC and Eurosport.

Producer and Co-Writer Gareth Coulam Evans is an experienced Producer of award winning advertisements, television, film and international brand projects. He and Simon Dixon have worked together for many years on commercial projects.

Tiger Raid is adapted from a stage play written by Mick Donnellan, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

Lead actor Brian Gleeson recently played the lead in Irish TV drama REBELLION, and featured in the film adaptation of ASSASSIN’S CREED. He is the son of Irish screen legend Brendan Gleeson, and brother of Domhnall Gleeson.

Damien Molony recently featured in KILL YOUR FRIENDS, and played the lead at the National Theatre in Tom Stoppard’s THE HARD PROBLEM.

Sofia Boutella travelled the world as a dancer with Madonna before beginning her film career. She recently starred in STAR TREK BEYOND is currently playing the lead opposite Tom Cruise in the remake of THE MUMMY.

TIGER RAID is DIXON BAXI EVANS’ first film, and is a UK/IRISH co-production, between DIXON BAXI EVANS and SAMSON FILMS.


TIGER RAID began life as a stage play set in rural Ireland. This gave the film its Irish voice, but we wanted it to have an International heartbeat.

We re-contextualised it to the war torn Middle East, heightening the violent and incendiary themes.

The film explores the dark hearts of men, it is revelatory and emotionally explosive. We sought to embed this unforgiving attitude in our filmmaking process.

We demanded as live an experience as possible on set. Creating the space to move the camera spontaneously, whilst clearly demarcating the emotional beats of the film.

We shot chronologically to allow the actors time to develop character, in long expressive takes to find the moment where the emotion become real.

We filmed in Jordan so that we could immerse ourselves in the reality of the Middle East. We wanted our actors to tread on sand that stretched to Baghdad, to battle 120 degree desert heat and to wake to the sound of the call to prayer. The uncompromising reality of the production fed their performances.


A Tiger Raid, or Tiger Kidnapping, is a criminal activity originated in the troubles in Northern Ireland by paramilitary groups.

The crime involves kidnapping someone important to a person of influence, who is then compelled to commit a crime on behalf of the kidnappers before the victim is released. The crime could be anything from planting a car bomb to making a bank manager rob their own bank.

Since the troubles officially ended, these crimes have still taken place, and have been exported from Northern Ireland to the Republic in the south, and beyond.


For Tiger Raid we created a simple mantra to guide us through:

This is not a genre film; It’s not about guns, trucks, or war. It’s about looking into the dark hearts of men.

It is a simple story; about a man who has to choose between blinding loyalty and destroying everything he has ever loved.

It is a character driven film; the turmoil of repressed sexuality, forced obsolescence, emotional chaos and its dehumanising effect. 

And we won’t flinch; violence seeps from the gaping emotional wounds of our characters.

But we will laugh despite ourselves; the dialogue is spiked with scathing humour, underscoring the absurdity of our world view. 


“Tiger Raid is an Irish film, but it is a film for the World. So whilst harnessing the powerful Irish voice it required the re-setting of our imaginations and cultural references to create something new.

We stare into the darkest parts of our characters and in particular the descent of Joe, a man both immune to and consumed by the casual violence of his life. As a mercenary, he is tormented by the horror of his life, and the sacrifices he’s made.

Never condoning his choices, it is a dark and unflinching exploration of what a violent life and desensitized choices does to a man. We wrestle with stark themes of loyalty and betrayal to the point it can become existential. Is there humanity below the brutality?

Whilst raw and uncompromising the film is charged with absurdity. Partly to toy with the audiences perception of the characters and partly to heighten the impact of Joe’s character.

The film is constructed both physically and conceptually to draw the audience in. Starting wide and open, it teases the ideas of the film but only as the revelations unfold does it tighten its grip. It eventually traps the viewer in the same room as Joe, forcing them to deal with his final decent. You end up inches from him, unable to turn away.

We were always going to be ambitious as we developed the script and taking what was potentially a narrow idea but elevating it was liberating. We wanted to take the raw energy of the Irish voices and place them in a different context. A broader backdrop of casual violence and extenuate the absurdity of their world view.

Hearing the script read for the first time was a huge moment and this only became more powerful when we could rehearse with the actors. This was a seismic shift for me as you only truly understand their craft and willingness to drill deeper and deeper into themselves when you see them building their interpretation of the characters first hand.

Of course shooting is exhilarating and I was keen to create as live and mobile way of shooting as possible. We shot chronologically to create as evolving and experiential a feel as possible to draw out the intensity and drive of the film. We shot long, rolling takes of 5, 6 or 7 minutes to allow the actors the space to prowl and adapt to the shifts in emotion and drama. The dialogue wasn’t improvised but the interactions were and this led to surprising tensions within the script.

What was incredible was the work ethic and passion to achieve incredible work by the cast and the entire crew. The shoot was challenging at best and I wanted as authentic a feel as possible and despite the difficulties the team pushed to deliver this.

Gareth and I made an agreement on the shoot that we’d start the day expecting something horrible to go wrong. Then we’d address it and push on. That way we were ready for anything- despite not knowing what might happen. Our feeling was we can always have an idea to get us out of a hole. If you have an idea, you have a way out, around or over a problem.

During the editing there was a moment after a few weeks of loose cutting that I sat back and realised that we could make the film several ways. That it was a huge, rolling set of elements that we needed to wrestle to create the form we believed best delivered against the vision. Within this though was a moment where I saw scenes and sequences and they matched what I had imagined whilst developing the script. Not literally but the feeling and idea. The vision and effort coalesced into something real. Something tangible.

Music is a longstanding passion, it was incredible to see the profound effect it had. It was thrilling but also delivered the emotional tone and drive we needed.

Watching the film with a crowd for the first time was an incredible experience. A double edge sword of both terror and elation, it finally showed how powerfully the film can connect with people.”


“Joe is a mercenary, he’s been in the middle east for a long time, so in that sense he’s kind of a vagabond. His identity’s been scrubbed away, and he exists in this kind of strange limbo land, so, when we meet him there’s a lot of ghosts in his past that return to haunt him, and you see the toll that life of violence has taken on him. He’s monstrous in some ways and redeeming in others, so it was a challenge to play him.

Joe is a very uncompromising and interesting part. The challenge was to unearth the humanity that’s buried very deep. To do a lot of detective work and find the person there, because in many ways he’s kind of a monster, but you can’t play him like that, you have to find the humanity.

I think Joe sees himself as the senior partner, and as the story unfolds that is challenged and Joe’s place in that relationship and the story is called into question. Seeing that shift in the dynamic between the two of them was the challenge – where to tell the audience that was happening and where not to, and that was a constant dialogue every day on set.

Dave is Joe’s boss and he’s employed Joe for a while and Joe’s had to do some pretty nasty things for him, and because of that he’s kind of hollowed out as a person. So he’s thrown in his lot with Dave, and without Dave, Joe would be more lost than he actually is. Without him I don’t think Joe would be long for this world, so you really see it’s a kind of twisted love.

Joe is a constant talker and talks about these people in his life and as the story goes on you’re kind of unsure what’s real and what’s not and he’s made up this life that he had, and it’s his own point of view on his past. So you’re just trying to dig in and understand what’s real about his past and what’s not. You get a sense that he’s haunted by a lot of ghosts.

Jordan is a very ancient place, very spiritual, and you feel it every day when you wake up. There’s five calls to prayer and the people there are very devout, giving and generous. It was important that we were in the environment, shooting out in the desert, it was really essential, and I’m glad we did it, it was a joy.”


“I’d heard about this script, these two great parts, and it was thrilling to read. You don’t often get to play an Irish mercenary in the desert and get shipped out to Jordan, so I jumped at the opportunity.

My character Paddy is arrogant, naive, and entirely convinced about his superiority in every aspect of life. He is the young pretender in the relationship with Joe, who is much more world weary, much more grizzly. He’s all about the mission, until an Achilles heel emerges, and once Joe spots that he takes full advantage of it.

When I read the script I understood where he was coming from and I understood the rivalry between him and Joe very quickly. It came across immediately and there was a kind of cocksureness to Paddy that I liked, a kind of aggressive arrogance.

I really liked that the script is so bam, bam, bam, bam it’s very witty, and it’s kind of a fight, with dialogue.

There’s such a great rivalry between the two of them, Joe is from the country, Paddy is from the city, so there’s immediately a suspicion on both their parts towards the other. Paddy is very aggressive and very provocative so he’s constantly trying to needle Joe.

I was attracted to Paddy because of this intrigue as to what’s happened before we open in the desert. Where has he come from, why is he the way he is, what has happened to him to make him jumpy and wired?”


“When I first read the script I thought what am I going to do with this, I just found it so violent! Through reading it again and again I understood what Shadha’s place in that was and what her power was, and what you find at the end is after enduring the whole beginning of the movie, which is quite tough, what I think gives it it’s power in the end is having gone through the whole beginning. It’s tough to endure but will be justified well in the end. The length of it gives it it’s power.

Shadha is this kind of girl who went through a moment in her life where she had a thirst for independence, and not wanting to be prisoner of any rules. She went beyond that and you can see from their relationship and their stories what she went through and how she met Paddy and why she did so. 

She found some escape by meeting a westerner, a man who gave her an idea of some sort of freedom, but it turned out not to be quite what she expected. It’s an interesting dynamic because you don’t see it coming whatsoever.

The relationship between Shada and Paddy is quite tormented. They come from quite different worlds, but in a way they were both looking for something quite different when they met. They fell in love, and their relationship wasn’t just love, it was quite a power struggle, and it wasn’t the healthiest relationship at all. Shadha wanting a chance for an alternative found in him an escape, and indulged and embraced that and was easily influenced by his want and need of control.

I’m not entirely sure where Damien pulled everything from, but I know for me to pull why Shadha did that, why did she go as far as she did in this relationship was quite easy to find, and I think that any woman who comes from any sort of repressed background, religious or not, is going to want that at some point. So I wasn’t surprised that she rebelled and went that far.”


“For a first movie it’s quite a long stretch, it’s not a romantic comedy, so I appreciate how ballsy he is!”


“In Tiger Raid we wanted to take the very provocative worldview of Mick’s writing, and turn it back on itself, boring into the tortured masculinity of our two central characters until the forces twisting them apart were laid bare for the audience.

I was very drawn to the darkness of Mick’s voice, and the way in which his characters used storytelling and bluster to both expose and mask their weaknesses. He moves us through conversations and stories with tremendous finesse, and that was something we wanted to preserve throughout the adaptation.

Moving the film to the Middle East gave us an opportunity to see our characters in the powerful glare of a new context. Simon and I were inspired by the opportunity to hold up a lens to the cycles of violence and oppression that forged these men. The historical irony of encountering them doing violence to another country, halfway around the world but still oppressed by the very people their countrymen fought in Ireland a generation ago, was an irresistible opportunity for us to explore the way violence perpetuates itself across borders and generations.

Shooting the film in Jordan was an incredible creative and personal experience. Experiencing the energy of Amman and the warmth of the Jordanian people every day continuously heightened our perspective. Making a provocative film in an incendiary context was a responsibility we relished and one that sharpened us up every day to make sure we delivered against our dual desires – to entertain and challenge our audience.”


“Working with Dixon Baxi Evans was a top class experience for a writer and the characters were brought to life and fleshed out in more varied and creatively brilliant ways than I could ever have imagined or hoped for. It was a unique experience that I’ll carry through my career with a burning bright positive glow.

 I’m very excited about the film. Having it chosen by Tribeca is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m delighted and lucky to be involved with such a fantastic team.”


We wouldn’t compromise on the brutality and invention of our characters language, and in doing so found ourselves making TIGER RAID one of the three most profane films of all time.


Tiger Raid was edited by Nick Esdaile and Dan Roberts. Dan brought a wealth of film experience to the edit, while Nick was a longtime collaborator of the DIXON BAXI EVANS team. His background is in cutting shortform work, and he had never edited drama before. The blend helped deliver a startling and dynamic feel to the edit of the film.


To edit Tiger Raid was a fantastic experience, this film is led by the characters, both real and imagined, and the challenge was around controlling how they reveal their motivations, how they expose their true nature to each other, to the audience, and ultimately to themselves.”



Tiger Raid is cast by Debbie McWilliams, Casting Director of the JAMES BOND films. We asked her to find new talent that would take the audience by surprise.


“Tiger Raid grabbed me from the moment I started reading. The script is gritty, funny and moving. It gave the actors enormous potential for stand out performances, a rare thing these days. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to cast this film.”



The score was composed by Dean Valentine. We wanted to blend modern electronic sounds with the power of an orchestral score. Dean brought in Irish musicians to record traditional instruments including the uilleann pipes and bodhran drum, reinventing them to create a distinct and powerful sound.

Dean composes the scores for many of the biggest Hollywood film trailers, including Prometheus and The Hunger Games.


“With Simon’s vision and guidance on board I composed over fifty tracks as we developed the sound of the Tiger Raid score. To say it was an immersive experience would be an understatement!

Although this is a dark electronic score, it’s some of the most intense, involved and intricate scoring I’ve done. The music literally weaves, bends, twists and rises under every nuance of the characters and story as it unfolds.”


The Film Titles were created by DIXON BAXI EVANS’ sister company, DixonBaxi. They were shot, edited and composited in London in their studio on the banks of the thames.



Brian’s most recent screen credits include the feature film Assassin’s Creed directed by Justin Kurzel and the forthcoming feature film Tiger Raid directed by Simon Dixon.

Other recent screen credits include the role of Jimmy Mahon in the RTÉ series Rebellion, the BBC’s adaptation of Iain Banks’ novel Stonemouth, Stay directed by Wiebke Von Carolsfeld, starring Aidan Quinn and Taylor Schilling, Darkness On the Edge of Town directed by Patrick Ryan, Serious Swimmers (a short film directed by Andy Taylor Smith for Rankin’s Collabor8 programme), Ronan and Rob Burke’s feature film Standby, co-starring Jessica Paré, in which he plays the lead role of Alan, the role of Gus opposite Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman, the role of Sinclair in the BBC adaptation of Benjamin Black’s Quirke series, starring Gabriel Byrne, and the lead role in How To be Happy, a feature directed by Mark Gaster, Michael Rob Costine & Brian O’Neill.

On stage Brian most recently appeared in The Weir directed by Amanda Gaughan at The Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Prior to that he appeared alongside Brendan Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson and Leona Allen in The Walworth Farce, written by Enda Walsh and directed by Seán Foley and in the Donmar Warehouse’s acclaimed production of Conor McPherson’s The Night Alive, which also ran at the Atlantic Theatre in New York and was named Best Play of 2013/2014 by the New York Drama Critics Circle.


Damien Molony is an Irish actor, mostly known for his television roles as Hal in BBC ‘Being Human’, DC Albert Flight in BBC ‘Ripper Street’ and DS Jack Weston in ‘Suspects’. He grew up in Johnstown Bridge in Kildare, Ireland, but now lives in London, UK.

Damien attended Drama Centre London 2008-2011, graduating with a BA in acting. While at drama school he performed in several theatre productions and played the male lead in award winning film short ‘When The Hurlburly’s Done’.

Molony also recently appeared on the big screen when the National Theatre play ‘The Hard Problem’ was broadcast to cinemas across the world with National Theatre Live in April. He also appeared playing Ross in ‘Kill Your Friends’, adapted from the novel by John Niven set in the music industry in the Britpop era.

Damien has been announced as cast in new HBO pilot period drama ‘The Devil You Know’ playing Robert Putnam, alongside Eddie Izzard who plays his Father. The story is set in 17th century New England and focuses on the Salem witch trials.


Boutella was born in the Bab El Oued district of Algiers. She started classical dance education at the age of 5 and at the age of 10 in 1992 she left Algeria with her family, and moved to France, where she started rhythmic gymnastics, and joined the French national team at the age of 18.

Meanwhile, she had taken up hip hop and street dance, and was part of a group called the Vagabond Crew, which won the “Battle of the Year” in 2006. She also participated in a group called “Chienne de Vie and Aphrodites” created by Momo from the Vagabond Crew. Sofia is a graduate of Berklee College of Music.

At the same time, she had been rehearsing since the age of 17 with choreographer Blanca Li. She has danced in several film and TV appearances, as well as commercials and concert tours.

Her real breakthrough arrived in 2007, when she was picked for the Jamie King choreography for Nike, as a role model of femininity and hip-hop. This was a major boost in her career and led to more work alongside stars like Madonna, in her Confessions Tour, and Rihanna. In February 2011, she was the main character in the Michael Jackson music video of “Hollywood Tonight”.

Boutella played lead character Eva in the film StreetDance 2, the sequel to StreetDance 3D, and co-starred in Kingsman: The Secret Service. She will appear in Star Trek Beyond, scheduled for release in 2016.

Boutella has also recently been cast to play the lead in the Universal Pictures production of THE MUMMY, opposite Tom Cruise.



Tiger Raid is co-written and Directed by Simon Dixon, co-founder of DIXON BAXI EVANS. He is a co-founder the leading creative agency DixonBaxi.

A lifelong passion for film has influenced Simon’s work, culminating in the creation of DIXON BAXI EVANS. Simon has worked as a Creative Director in Design and Branding for over twenty years. He is a leading internationally recognised figure in his field, bringing his passion and unique creative approach to brands as varied as Formula 1, NBC Universal, Microsoft, Ford, Fremantle, Shine, Telemundo and Nike.

Prior to starting DixonBaxi, Simon was the Group Creative Director of ATTIK Group, opening studios in London, New York and San Francisco. As a Director his numerous TV commercials, Brand spots and Television Idents are seen all over the world.


Tiger Raid is Produced and Co-Written by Gareth Evans, co-founder of DIXON BAXI EVANS. He is an experienced Producer of award winning advertisements, television, films, and international cross media brand projects.

Gareth has previously Line Produced three feature films, the most notable of which was Perry Ogden’s The Traveller Girl, which was selected for competition in Venice and Toronto, won the Satyajit Ray prize at the London film Festival, and was awarded Best Picture at the Irish Film and Television Awards.He has also Produced a number of short films, including Must I Write, starring Dennis Hopper for Arte in Germany.

In the commercial space, Gareth has Produced and Executive Produced major advertising and brand projects for clients including NBC Universal, Star Networks, Times of India, Nike and Coca Cola.


Aporva Baxi is the third co-founder of DIXON BAXI EVANS.

He co-founded the creative agency DixonBaxi with Simon Dixon in 2001. He has a global reputation as a leading creative in branding and design, and is sought out by some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies to help them connect with and inspire their audiences. As Executive Creative Director at DixonBaxi, he is passionate about the value of creativity in business, and has helped organisations including Eurosport, Freeview, UKTV, NBC Universal, Telemundo, Opera Software and Sony to build brands with purpose and emotion.

Prior to founding DixonBaxi, Aporva was US Creative Director at the international brand agency ATTIK, having helped open their Sydney studio before taking control of their East Coast creative team through their New York office.

Aporva has been a keynote speaker at international conferences including PromaxBDA Los Angeles, Semi-Permanent Sydney, OFFF Paris and DesignYatra Goa. Over his career he has won numerous awards for his work from Design Week, Type Directors Club, PromaxBDA Global Excellence and D&AD.


Mick Donnellan completed the MA in Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2004. Since then he has worked as a novelist, journalist, travel writer, teacher and Playwright. He completed his first novel, El Niño, in 2005. He left Ireland soon after and went on to live in Spain, Australia and Canada. While traveling he worked as a travel writer and Journalist and co-founded the Arts Paper – Urban Pie – in Vancouver. Upon returning to Ireland he went on to work with the Druid Theatre Company (2009) and RTE, the Irish National Broadcaster (2010).

Most recently, he established his own theatre company, Truman Town Theatre. All Truman Town Plays are Written, Directed, and Produced by Mick. The company exploded on to the theatrical circuit in 2011 with their hit Play – Sunday Morning Coming Down. Following a national tour, they went on to produce (and tour) two more hugely successful Plays Shortcut to Hallelujah and Gun Metal Grey. These dramas eventually became known as the “Ballinrobe Trilogy.” More recently, the company toured a fourth Play Velvet Revolution in 2014.


David Collins founded Samson Films in 1984. His productions credits include some of the most significant Irish films of the last 20 years including PIGS (Cathal Black), EAT THE PEACH (Peter Ormrod), I WENT DOWN (Paddy Breathnach – as Executive Producer).

Samson also has a sister company, Accomplice Television, which specialises in original television drama productions. It has received investment from Enterprise Ireland and company development funding from the Media Programme.

David is an Executive Member of Screen Producers Ireland, the representative association for Irish producers and directors. He is also a member of the European Film Academy. He is also one of the promoters of the Lighthouse Cinema at Smithfield, a 4 screen art house cinema complex, run by Neil Connolly and Maretta Dillon.


Martina was a producer of Perry Ogden’s debut feature PAVEE LACKEEN (2005), which won numerous awards including “Best Irish Film” at the Galway Film Fleadh, the Satyajit Ray Award at the London Film Festival and the IFTA for Best Irish Film.

To date, her most critically acclaimed production was John Carney’s ONCE which received the Oscar® for Best Original Song and was named “Best Foreign Film” at the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards.

In 2009 Martina produced Carmel Winters’ first feature, entitled SNAP, which had its world premiere at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, screening in the narrative competition section. SNAP also won ‘Best Irish Film’ and ‘Best Irish Director’ at the Dublin International Film Festival. Recently Martina produced RUN & JUMP. The film was co-written and directed by Oscar nominated Steph Green and won Best Irish Feature and Best Irish First Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2013.

Martina’s most recent production is John Carney’s new feature entitled SING STREET, starring Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor and Maria Doyle Kennedy.


Selected as the only DOP in the Screen International Stars of Tomorrow 2014, Si is a dedicated and passionate cinematographer experienced in shooting features, TV dramas, commercials and music promos.

Born in the north of England, Si climbed the ranks as a camera assistant before shooting a number of award winning short films and then moving into feature films. He has recently completed principle photography on TV drama Undercover produced by BabyCow and Bonafide Films. Si also shot BFI backed Feature Film Electricity starring Agyness Deyn. Electricity received an array of great reviews with a number picking out the stunning cinematography as one of the films strongest qualities.

Si has also recently been featured in the Meet the New Wave section in British Cinematographer. He recently completed filming on two episodes of Cuffs, a new BBC 1 drama produced by Tiger Aspect. He has recently completed principle photography on a feature film that will open the new series of Ripper Street for Amazon Prime and is currently shooting additional episodes for the series. He also began prep for the new series of Fortitude in January.

DIXON BAXI EVANS founders, Aporva Baxi, Simon Dixon and Gareth Coulam Evans.

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