|Poster by Sarah McIntyre
The time has come to unleash Gwenevere upon an unsuspecting world (though the bit of the world that reads this blog won’t be that unsuspecting, because I’ve been banging on about it for ages).
You can find it here on the Bonehill Films YouTube channel.
Christmas feels like a good time for Arthurian tales - it’s how Gawain and the Green Knight begins, with Arthur and his knights telling stories around the Round Table while the snow piles up outside. So I’ve decided to release Gwenevere on Christmas Eve, in the hope that people will find time to watch it over the holiday period.
Ever since Sarah Reeve and I started this project, people have been asking what it’s for. Well, it’s for the same reason I act in the local panto or Sarah sings with her choir: because it’s nice to get together with other people and make something - hopefully something that’s entertaining. We’re not trying to break into the movie business, or even the independent short film scene. If we were, I’d have picked a simpler subject - something with just a couple of locations and two or three actors where we could concentrate on getting the lighting and camera work as perfect as possible. But I wanted to find something that would keep me interested through the long months of pre- and post-production, and that meant a period drama of some sort - what’s the point of making a movie if there’s no dressing up? Watching all those Arthurian Films during lockdown made me realise that the Arthurian legends were perfect - historical, but also mythic, so we could take a loose approach to the period detail.
|That loose approach to period detail in full.
I think it holds together, and comes pretty close to what I was aiming for. I hope it bears comparison with some of the things that inspired it - an episode of The Boy Merlin, perhaps, or Roger Christian’s Arthurian-adjacent film Black Angel (His is obviously more professional, but I reckon we have a better story, and better characters).
It’s a bit pointless to talk about how it was directed. If Martin Scorsese or someone is doing an interview about their new movie they can discuss why they chose to shoot something from a particular angle, or in a particular light. But on Gwenevere’s tiny budget we don’t have time to hang around for the light to change, and the reason we shot it from that angle is because all the other angles would have showed fence posts or telegraph poles. Pushed for time and resources, we did what we could with what we had. The duel scene could definitely have used an extra day and a fight arranger, but we couldn’t afford either. But the fact that I didn’t have much usable footage to work with in the duel meant that the focus falls more on Gwenevere wandering by the river, and she’s what the film is really about, so that may be for the best.
|Laura Frances Martin as Gwenevere
Similarly, it’s annoying that we weren’t able to get Sir Ruan on a horse - the idea always to have him riding at the beginning of the film while the women trudge along on foot behind him. But if we had, they would have been riding and trudging across a field in rather flat mid-afternoon light. On foot, we were able to dash up onto the moor at the day’s end and get some lovely evening shots: the cut to the three of them walking past a little mere while Brian Mitchell’s gorgeous Latin hymn kicks in on the soundtrack might be my favourite moment in the whole film.
But I have lots of favourite moments, thanks to our wonderful and endlessly patient cast and crew, to Brian’s music, Jaine Fenn’s costumes, Tom Jacobs’s and Sarah McIntyre’s props, and all the Dartmoor people who so kindly let us film on their property. Without them, Gwenevere wouldn’t exist, and I’m glad it does exist. I hope you enjoy it too.
|Isabel Keen, Jonny Hibbs, Tessa Arrowsmith-Brown, Sarah Reeve, me, and Alan Lee, on the set.