An independent British war film
History of the online war Continues Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Access to Independent WWII Drama Series Parachutist, which begins its life as a feature film. We know the creators behind this project and support their efforts 100%. Once again, we spoke to the person who is the driving force behind the film (and the series): director Lance Steen Anthony Nielsen.
WHO – Welcome back! So update us all! What happens with the film and the series?
Lance – Since we last spoke we shot another day and picked our lead man Tobi Bakare who is such a lovely guy. We are extremely lucky to have had him for the role. While we have to revolve around his other commitments, it will be worth it in the end.
I also worked a lot on the other scripts of the episodes that it is important for me to finish. I’m writing the Crete episode right now which is told from a German perspective and is a very exciting story and very different from the Cornell story, but both of course are stories about young paratroopers.
WHO – We see you’ve just released your first trailer for the film. Tell us more about it and what was the response?
Lance – Overall, the response has been very positive. Obviously, people who are extremely immersed in the historical world are going to be more critical than others, but even so, we are very happy with the result.
We do everything we can to ensure that our film is as faithful as possible historically within the limits of our budget, which is not always easy. It only contains shots for two and a half days of filming, because that’s all we’ve been able to do so far. We can only film what we can afford at the end of the day.
We also have meetings with a few major rigs and others in the works about the series, but I have a feeling people are waiting to see how the pilot goes… it would be great to get the commission beforehand. even this date.
There is one person in particular who I think is a good candidate to produce the show. Hopefully this will be something they commit to. They just got our pitch deck for the show, so time will tell. In the meantime, we just keep moving forward, because I won’t be waiting for anyone to finish the pilot.
WHO – What has been the most difficult thing so far for you and your team?
Lance – Our mini shoot in Holland. We struggled on that one.
WHO – Why is that?
Lance – We knew we were going to Holland to do a reconnaissance and I also wanted our team, like my wonderful cinematographer, Richard Oakes, to have a real sense of the sacrifice made by our soldiers (he was not very familiar on the subject and cried to Osterbeek) so we thought we’d bring some cameras and try to film something. We only had about a third of our crew because we had to leave the rest behind, so we were a very small unit.
We spent a day in Arnhem and then another in Deventer to plan the shoot we were going to do the next day. We had no idea how many reenactors were going to show up to help us, although I was told to wait between 20 and 50, but well over 50 came and they were all amazing.
We did interviews with the press the previous days about the shoot, but I really didn’t want the press to be there that day, because they are always in the way. We had problems from the start. We had planned to have special effects, with smoke and explosions, but Deventer said no to a permit for these things, because this shoot was arranged on very short notice. It was understandable and I must add that the advice from Deventer was fantastic support.
Then we had two boats moored where we wanted to set up our cameras, which made it impossible to take the shots we wanted to get. We were told they weren’t going to be there until 10 a.m. on the day of the shoot, but when we started to settle in at 4 a.m. they were still there and we couldn’t move them. All of our planned plans were ruined.
WHO – What did you do?
Lance – One of the golden rules of making a movie is that “No plan survives contact with the enemy”, so you should always be prepared to adapt. So we had a quick conference and worked out some alternative plans in a matter of minutes. They weren’t what I wanted but we still managed to get a few that were usable and ended up in the trailer.
I want to thank everyone who came that day to help – without them we would have had nothing at all. When we come back to shoot in Holland, it will be very different and we will come back. I will talk about that a bit more in a moment.
WHO – Can you clarify the difference between the pilot film you are making and the series you hope to make later?
Lance – Of course. The pilot will be a springboard for a bigger show. The pilot is actually the first two episodes, so it’s two hours long and the story is contained to work as a full-fledged movie.
The series isn’t just about Sidney Cornell (the pilot either for that matter) although he returns in two more episodes towards the end. It is essentially a separate entity from the film, with each episode focusing on the experience of an Airborne Forces character.
We couldn’t shoot the show like we’re filming the pilot – we would need a much bigger crew and a much, much higher budget, so the two are truly incomparable. We would have a much higher level of realism for the show. With the pilot we still have to try to achieve these standards, but we are, of course, limited to the resources we have.
WHO – What’s next?
Lance – We are planning to go to France in April to shoot the majority of our Norman scenes with our main cast. We have this big village over there where we are allowed to turn which is far from the main roads and which still has almost all the buildings as they were with very little modernism apart from the strange lamppost that we will hide or remove in post-production.
It has all these high gray stone walls and French architectural features. We were supposed to take ten of our actors originally, but I had to reduce that number to eight… the funding we can get will determine how many people can go and what we can shoot. For now, we won’t know until the last minute.
WHO – Yes it must be a real challenge for you, especially with historical content.
Lance – Making movies at all levels is always a challenge, but you just have to find a way to overcome those challenges to the best of your ability. I have a great team around me and the friends and relatives of the men we portray in the film have also been extremely supportive and consistently encouraging. Having their support was extremely important to me. Adam Jowett from the Parachute Regiment media department was also really great.
WHO – Obviously we know there is still a long way to go, but you mentioned earlier that you will definitely be returning to the cinema in Holland. Can you tell us the thought behind this?
Lance – We have a dedicated Dutch team and have already set up a production company there. The Arnhem episode is truly a standalone story seen through the eyes of a ten year old Dutch boy who tries to get back to his parents and he is caught in the middle of the battle. It’s such a beautiful story that as soon as I wrote it, I knew I was going to do it someday.
So when the pilot is done, if we don’t get the series, we’ll move on to the Arnhem movie and that will be the next project. We also had some good funding offers for this episode, so this is something we’re going to actively pursue and shoot on a higher budget.
WHO – You are funding IndieGoGo again IndieGoGo
Lance – Yes, a shorter campaign for a lesser amount to raise the bare minimum to bring part of our team to France. 25K isn’t a lot of money, but it’s still a high goal, especially in these uncertain times. Also, if we do Brexit on the 29th (we have to shoot at the beginning of April) it will be another cost for visas etc which will be very painful.
We are still actively trying to get private investments to support the whole pilot project, so that we can have it all in the box before the end of the year, but times are tough and no one has a lot of money. to loose. If I have to film it a little at a time, so be it. Once we have the French stages in the box it will be a great achievement, if we can’t collect enough money to go to France now we have a UK pickup day to do as well. So we’ll grab that instead.
People need to understand that I am a man of action, not someone who just sits and waits for things to happen and I have never been more passionate about telling a story in my career than this , so I’ll keep going until we get where we need to be with but we won’t show the finished movie until I’m 100% satisfied.