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Gwenevere: Destination Bude

I’ve been at work on editing our Arthurian movie Gwenevere since the beginning of the year, and it’s very nearly finished now. The last thing we needed to get was some flashbacks to Gwenevere’s love affair with Lancelot, which will crop up as brief montages at a couple of points in the story. We didn’t have time to shoot these in our main blocks of filming back in the autumn, so it seemed to make sense to leave them till spring - they’re meant to be taking place in a different time to the rest of the film. 

We also needed a different setting - the film is about Gwenevere’s journey through the wilds, and it’s all shot on Dartmoor. So we thought a beach would make a nice change of scene, and since Laura Frances Martin, who plays Gwenevere, comes from north Cornwall we decided to find somewhere near her to film. That’s how we ended up in Bude, just down the coast from Tintagel. There are some lovely beaches there, and there’s also a handy castle called The Castle. It isn’t an actual castle, but an eccentric Nineteenth Century house, built in 1830 just behind Summerleaze beach by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the inventor of the steam carriage. It’s now a lovely museum and gallery, well worth a visit if you’re in the area. Needless to say, it’s completely the wrong period for our film, but we only needed some brief close-ups of Laura and Arran Hawkins, who plays Sir Lancelot. With some careful camera work from Sarah Reeve, the Castle’s crenellated walls provided the perfect backdrop. 

Historical enthusiasts may notice that Arran’s costume looks a bit sub-standard, but as with the castle, we were careful which bits we showed - he’s mostly seen in head-and-shoulders close-ups which are on screen for less that two seconds, so it made sense to economise. (Truly we have reached the last dying gasps of the budget.) Gwenevere’s outfit was excellent as always though, courtesy of Wardrobe Mistress Jaine Fenn (whose navy blue houppelande she’s wearing) and props maker Tom Jacobs who created her crown - modelled here by our ever-helpful assistant for the day, Sarah McIntyre. (Sarah took all the photos in this post, too. Except this one obvs.)

Luckily there was still just enough budget left to have lunch the Castle’s excellent café, where we watched the rushes while we waited for our toasties to arrive…

And it’s just a short drive from the Castle to Crooklets Beach, where I once sat with my notebook, some time between Covid lockdowns, jotting down notes for Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep. It was nice to be back again, and the rocks, sands, and booming surf made it the perfect location for Gwen’n’Lance’s  romantic meandering. 

It was a lovely day, and we ended up with so much footage that it’s going to be hard to choose the ten or twelve brief shots we actually need in the film… But that will have to be done, because I need to get Gwenevere wrapped up and ready to screen. All that remains to do is cut these flashbacks in and tinker a bit with some of the sound levels. If all goes well there will be a couple of previews soon - more about those shortly. 

Meanwhile, huge thanks from all of us to Mark Kerridge, manager of the Castle, to all the Castle’s staff, and to Bude-Stratton Town Council for letting us goof around on their property. 

I’m going to back in Bude on the 19th -20th May for the Bude Literary Festival. I’ll be doing a schools event on Friday, and a public on on Saturday, focusing on the Utterly Dark books (but I’m always happy to talk about the others too).

The festival features lots of other authors, too - you can check out the programme here.

Twirling on the cliff tops to celebrate completion of photography…


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