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The Disturbing Truth Behind the 'Spitman' Urban Legend

Spitman was a West London council estate myth until the mobile phone footage turned up.

Why are young men on London's council estates performing deviant acts on a person they call "Spitman"? This is a journey through the depths of West London. A story of what some of the young men on these estates will do for money.

For the last ten years, numerous generations have been meeting a person known as Spitman. Gathering in stairwells they'll meet him and take their turn. All in exchange for cash. Is Spitman taking advantage of the boys? Are they taking advantage of him? This is a strange story that gets stranger the deeper you get.


Here is a note from the director, Marlon Rouse Tavares:

Last year, I was sitting in Pizza Express when a friend called saying, "Bruv, I've just heard about the maddest thing." I'd never heard the name Spitman before, but I was about to find out that a lot of other people had.

Spitman has been around for at least 13 years. He will pay groups of young guys to do weird things to him on the council estates on West London. This was a story that had to be told.

Most people's reaction to my plans was "Why make a film about that?" We're constantly being presented with narratives that are easily digestible, where it's clear what we're meant to feel and what side we're meant to take. The Spitman story is complex and difficult. It makes people uncomfortable, most people don't want to hear about these things.

The film was shot between midnight and 3 AM. I wanted to visit these locations and interview the boys with no disturbances, no distractions. There was a lot of late-night lurking. The boys who feature in the film were brilliant. Despite it being a part of their lives they hadn't really shared before, they were so open and honest with me. Some of what they say is much more profound than my voice over.

I'd like to say that this is not a journalistic film, it's not an episode of Panorama. I'm not popping up at the end with a conclusion or telling you what to think. I'm not going to say these ones are the villains or those are the victims. People will watch this and have a range of different feelings and opinions at the end. And that is the point.

I won't tell people to enjoy the film, because "enjoy" is the wrong word. But I hope they allow themselves to be fully consumed by it.

Marlon Rouse Tavares