Directed BY JOSEPH ARCHER
Gods Of The Marsh (working title) is a Saxon-Viking epic that I directed and produced as part of the part of the NYFA’s Emerging Brit programme.
In the story a Danish warrior, living in Saxon England, tries to convince her fellow villagers to flee their homes, due to the threat of an imminent Viking raid.
However, the Anglo-Saxon community turns on itself, leaving it divided and defenseless when the Vikings arrive.
How we did it
It was a truly ambitious project with a hefty 17-page script, that would require large amounts of planning and faultless execution. As well as a bit of ingenuity and craft.
A friend of mine made Viking and Saxon shields. Sam Kemp (the Gaffer) forged daggers to be used as props. Sky Cheema and Conrad Pollock (our art department) stitched, sewed and assembled clothes together for the extras. All this hands-on creativity meant we could make the film to our budget and achieve a professional looking film.
We had three days at Butser Ancient Farm near Portsmouth, which would act as the village where our main characters lived. The location, based on a real Iron-Age community in the UK, was even recently used by the Horrible Histories team to shoot their latest film.
Along with filming an actual battle scene with 50 cast, extras and stuntmen, we had to battle the elements to get this production completed. The summer sun kept beating down on us, meaning the skin tones and faces of our actors were “washed out” on the camera. And when that wasn’t happening we had rain to contend with.
Time was not on our side either. Only having three days to do the film justice would mean we would have to be extremely fast and adaptable.
Luckily, everyone had the confidence in the production to get this ambitious film made, and we managed to get every scene at the location filmed. I am very pleased with what we achieved in such a short amount of time.
Then we had two days at our woodland location, sourced by Sam Kemp. The location near Winchester was perfect for the scenes at the beginning of the script, and for the film’s showdown ending.
To create the cinematic shots of the film we used equipment either engineered or borrowed from members of the crew. This included cameras, jibs, sliders, a Ronin and an Easyrig.
Despite our tight schedule, every scene got filmed. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the film also looks stunning. To recreate the past for screen is a complicated task, but luckily with talented make-up artists and an amazing art department, we did it effectively.
On the date of publishing, the film is off to the editor to piece together, then when the cut is ready, we hope to send it off to showcases and film festivals. We are also looking for a composer for the project to produce an original score.
I just want to thank the NYFA in entrusting me with such an ambitious project, that was quite different to anything I had made before. I loved working with the cast and crew, who really stood up to make this challenging film.
Thanks for reading and hope you get a chance to watch Gods Of The Marsh (working title) soon!