Devon & Cornwall's Own Indie Film “Mordred”

Guillaume Rivaud as Arthur

Announcing crowdfunding campaign for Devon & Cornwall indiefilm “Mordred”, showcasing local actors and local history /Arthurian legend

“I am what you made me become!” is the tagline of the film, spoken by Mordred. How relevant that seems!

This production aims to not only showcase very heavily researched Dark Ages (6th century) history of Devon and Cornwall, linked to some of the very earliest and less known Arthurian legends, but also equally to showcase the amazing skills by local actors, filmmakers, and other production creatives - a lot of film work happens in the southwest but very often local people are passed over completely for roles, in favour of imported talent due to stereotypes of "local people being no-good". Since there are very few opportunities, we decided to make our own and claw our own way up.

There is a national campaign at the moment for the recognition of working-class actors, who on a national scale, not just locally to us, are often bypassed.

This production aims to prove that local Devon and Cornwall working-class actors are capable of great things, with a large, attention-grabbing project that has already been featured in the press not just locally, but in New York and Hollywood itself, and with interest, subject to the finished product from global film distribution companies.

In order to make the film the very best it can be, and to facilitate this high-quality showcase for local actors, the team are crowdfunding for the film to be the very best it can be. A wide range of perks are offered on the indiegogo crowdfund; ranging from £1 social media shoutouts through clothing, signed items, set visits, and film/ IMDb producer credits – all support is most gratefully received.

The crowdfund link can be found at https://igg.me/at/mordred2016/

This crowdfund is running alongside a dizzying run of burlesque shows, sponsored swims, a scifi/ fantasy convention, ebay sales, carboot sales, and shop counter collection tins. Grants have been also applied for but have been turned down on the grounds of it being a film ("arts project"), or relating to mythology or history. We are, however, determined to make this film happen!

Every penny raised goes into costumes/ props, donations to locations for use, food and camping equipment for cast on location, travel to locations, and some extra equipment. Equipment, following this film, will then be used to make more projects by this group, and to train local people in making high-grade film and video - to help them find work!

The film is directed by an experienced female theatre/film director, Laura Jay, herself a resident of Devon, who has directed historical and mythological theatre and film for 15 years, having completed an undergraduate degree in film and TV production at Plymouth College of Art (from Plymouth University), and then a Masters degree in teaching drama in the community, from the University of Exeter.Laura can be seen in this Youtube video, speaking about the film and the crowdfund: https://youtu.be/SaiN95z9ImE

The group running it, The South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company, from Brixham in South Devon, also founded by Laura Jay, has a proven track record over 10 years of producing historical theatre and film, working from the early days of raising £80 from a carboot sale and using the backroom of a pub for rehearsals.

The large cast ranges from Julie Tetley playing Gitta; Morgan le Fay's maid and co-conspirator, and thirteen year old newcomer Reece Whitehouse playing King Arthur’s “legitimate” son, Duran, in their first ever major acting roles (in fact the first ever role for Reece), through our more experienced actors Rich Sandford who stars as Mordred, and Guillaume Rivaud, who plays King Arthur, right over to “Iron” Mike Mitchell, who, after holding 5 “Mr World” and 2 “Mr Universe” titles with the World Fitness Federation, went on to the world of acting and has appeared in films such as Gladiator, Braveheart, Skyfall, Apocalypse Z – and the TV soap Emmerdale.

This amazing cast, have already begun working together in a highly energised, collaborative team, where regardless of experience, or age, everyone has come together to put a thousand percent into rehearsals and workshops for the production.

Rehearsals now happen twice a week, each time running over different scenes, alongside training sessions for historical combat, acting and all other skills needed by the cast to portray their characters.

“Mordred”, is set in the 6th century, a time of strife, after the Romans had withdrawn from Britain, and the native peoples are defending their shores against Saxon incursions. Careful research into what is known of the period, has been undertaken, and linked with some of the earliest legends about King Arthur, and Mordred, as well, to create this production.

King Arthur has ruled Dumnonia, the South-west peninsula of Britain, after being chosen as the Pendragon, after his defeat of the Saxon sea-wolves, at the Battle of Badon Hill, at the age of sixteen. His elder sister, once the Arch-druidess of Dumnonia, Morgan, consumed with jealousy, plots against the Throne, and is banished from Dumnonia after the deaths of Arthur’s first wife Anna, and his baby son.

Many years later, a young nobleman is found, poisoned, on the moors. Brought to the fort town Isca, by Arthurs warriors, he is revealed to be Mordred, illegitimate son of King Arthur and also the victim of plots by Morgan. Father and son slowly come to trust one another, and eventually, Mordred, who is well liked by most of Arthur's followers, is chosen as Regent of Dumnonia, as Arthur battles a second Saxon invasion.

Unfortunately, not all of Arthur's enemies are on the battlefield.

The drama tells how two equally honourable men came to hate one another, and how that hate to lead to a disastrous war.

Set against the backdrop of the post-Roman Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia, present day Devon and Cornwall, struggling to survive against the Saxon invaders, this is a dark, gritty drama, supported with an impressive team of performers, historical reenactors, historians, and a film crew ranging from students at Exeter College, through writing, research and direction, by Arthurian-afficiando, actress/director and Masters graduate from the University of Exeter; Laura Jury, and the ambitious Simon Knight, Director of Photography. The team is supported by the sound track composer, Michael Klubertanz, from Germany, the only team member from outside the Southwest of England, who is composing the film sound-track using only instruments which would have been in use in 6th Century Britain

The final aim of the production is to gain international exposure – and hopefully employment - for local actors and creative talent. As our team's history is also in doing theatre, a touring theatre production will take place in locations around Devon and Cornwall, in September 2016. The project already gathering international interest, with three articles in New York – based arts magazine NY Elite, and Hollywood-based film production magazine Max-It, as well as various online interviews and podcasts.

The South Devon Players have an unusual raison d'etre; exemplified, in this project. The group, which started out as an amateur dramatics theatre group, specialising in historical and mythological drama, are a group of local career-orientated actors and creatives, who are unable, for various life reasons, or lack of resources, to move away to large entertainment hubs such as London, to make careers there. For many years the Players have specialised in theatre, performing locally at the Palace Theatre in Paignton, and the Edge in Brixham, but now want to bring their work to the film circuit to publicise the fantastic skills of local southwest actors and “behind the scenes” creatives across the world. The belief of the Players is that in order to find opportunities, they must first create their own.

Filming will take place in May and June 2016 around Devon and Cornwall, with the theatre performances taking place in September 2016 .

It was considered very important to make sure that we were not making “just another King Arthur film”, and to find a unique adaptation. While novels have been written from Mordred's point of view, to our knowledge, this has never been transferred to film. That, coupled with spanning Devon and Cornwall, and delving into earlier and less known legends, has created an all new version of the legend.

Not that creating a production of this scale is easy. While grants are being applied for, and

traditional crowdfunding sources are being applied to, you cannot put all your eggs in one basket. Cast and crew members are involved in a wide range of fundraising activities, ranging from small amounts from tombolas and face painting at fetes, and selling on ebay, through to a film/ scifi/ fantasy convention, grant applications, cabaret shows, ebook publications and more.

For costumes and props, It is also a case of keeping one eye on the history book and the other on what reclaimed fabrics and items can be remade, and adapted. We have to thank so many people who keep an eye out for second hand things that we can do this with.

This is an ambitious project, taking not just every ounce of creativity on screen, but also in the planning and logistics behind-the-scenes.

Popular posts from this blog

Poldark Second Series has Started Filming

Swan Lake at Hall for Cornwall

The Great Cornish Food Festival