Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Gary Andrews
Produced by: Joy Andrews
Screen Adaptation by: Gary Andrews
Viola – Joy Tinniswood
Olivia – Amelia O’Ryan
Orsino – Tony Godden
Toby Belch – Jim Light
Malvolio – Brian Riddle
Oliver Graham, Jim Harding, Steve Davis, Leigh Evans, Winston Fane-Bailey, Jane Hill, and Gary Andrews as Feste.
Even in a country torn apart by war, there is still time for love – and drunkenness – and practical jokes – and mistaken identity – and cross dressing – and cross garters! It’s Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy in a new and original setting.
As with ‘Macbeth’ before it, this film began life as a stage production for Pitchy Breath Theatre Company at the Hawth Studio Theatre, Crawley. Shooting began a fortnight after the play finished (in the pouring rain!) with a prologue sequence written exclusively for the screenplay showing the events leading up to the start of the story as we know it, as well as the closing shots of the film. So with the beginning and the end ‘in the can’ all that remained was to fill in the intervening 90 minutes – a task which was spread over several weekends during the following 2 months. All the cast of the original theatre production reprised their roles for the film. The only newcomer to the team was Oliver Graham who took over the role of Antonio as this part was doubled with the Sea Captain on stage.
The second major shoot of the production was set in Orsino’s Headquarters. This collection of scenes was filmed in a disused wine bar set into the arches of a railway bridge which we converted with judicious use of ammo boxes and camouflage netting into a pretty convincing military base. This sequence marked the first major use of our most recent and exciting acquisition – a set of Dolly tracks; as a result of which our faithful old wheelchair is enjoying a well earned retirement in Eastbourne!
The next major sequence was a huge undertaking involving more than 20 people, taking place over two days. It was here that we had our first setback. The actress playing Olivia came down with a severe case of Bronchitis and was unable to make the shoot. This made things a bit tricky as the majority of scenes planned for this weekend revolved around her character. After a frantic crisis meeting we decided to press on as it was next to impossible to reschedule the whole cast and location – so, with some inventive camera work we managed to cover all the scenes as planned leaving Olivia’s angles to be picked up another time.
Much of the comic subplot of “Twelfth Night” takes place in the garden, and in true film-making style the location of Olivia’s garden is in reality about 20 miles from that used for her house and gates. You would be hard pressed when watching the finished film to guess that for most of our time spent at this location we were playing ‘dodge the rain shower’ a common pastime when shooting outdoors in an English summer!
With our Olivia finally over her illness it was time to go back and pick up the shots we were forced to reschedule a few weeks earlier. Luckily, having viewed the rushes we were able to storyboard everything that was needed to maintain continuity with the previous shoot. Careful note had also been made of the lighting positions, the gels we had used and the time of day that we had shot each scene into which these new setups were to be inserted. We were also very lucky that all the principal actors were able to cross over both shoots to give the impression that Olivia was there all along!
In one of those peculiar quirks of film-making, the penultimate scene we shot was the second scene of the film. Viola is washed up on the shore of Illyria… or in this case a secluded part of the Sussex coast doing a remarkable impression of a beach by the Adriatic Sea!
After a hectic and tiring two months it was treat (on a cool June afternoon) to finish the shoot with a delightful 2 and a half page dialogue scene between Viola and Olivia.
We completed the edit in December 2004 and had a charity premier at the Archway Theatre, Horley (in aid of the Archway Millennium Fund and the Tsunami Appeal) on the 7th January 2005.