Troubled teenager Tom is on holiday with his parents at Dorset's Jurassic coast, England. But nothing is what it seems. Tom's room feels strange.Some things do not seem real. Tom makes a friend of Peter who while showing him the Lake tells the tragic story and intense relationship of Eliza and Jack, lovers from the 18th century. Tom becomes obsessed with the story, hears voices, sees things. And so the present day and the 18th century smuggling community merge and collide in a tale of love, passion and a boy's deteriorating mental health.
Taking my passion for drama into the world of film making was something I had always dreamed of. My directorial debut in film was Far From the Madding Crowd based on Thomas Hardy’s novel. It was unusual because it was made by a comprehensive school in Sherborne and featured students only as actors and crew, including Ben Jones in the role of Francis Troy. Ben, who now goes under the name Ben Hardy, played Peter Beale in EastEnders and Archangel in The X-Men Movies and most recently played Roger Taylor in Bohemian Rhapsody.
In 2015, now retired from teaching I set out to make my own independent feature film. Based on a short story by Jim Burke from Dublin I set out to write the screenplay for The Other Side of The Lake.
Self -funded with a little help from Jim, meant the budget would have to be very small. In fact the film is being delivered on a budget of just under £10,000. So locations had to be found, sets built, costumes and props sourced, licences obtained and most importantly my actors and crew needed to be assembled.
I drew on the support of many ex-students from my teaching days as well as friends and family members who all shared my enthusiasm for this exciting project and were happy to volunteer their services.
My family played key roles both in front of and behind the camera. My daughter Carina was cast as the 18th Century passionate and love torn Eliza Little, and other roles went to my son Daniel and granddaughter Megan. Tristan Ward from Woking, recently graduated from London School of Musical Theatre, plays Tom the teenager and Justin Daish, a local musician, plays Jack Dantam, the ardent and spirited smuggler.
My granddaughter Molly, who was studying Film Production at Southampton Solent University at the time, was lead camera operator and my husband Sparkie took over sound, built sets and also stepped in front of the camera in a key acting role playing the mysterious Daniel Hand.
Amelia Mumford, my youngest son’s partner made Eliza’s gowns and the smugglers costumes and together we assembled rails of costumes. With 18th century props and costumes surrounding us, the family home soon started to resemble a museum.
Shooting began in April 2015 with the actors and crew often working from early morning until late at night in all weathers. Our backdrop was the glorious Jurassic Coast.
Most of the 18th century smuggling scenes were filmed, rather aptly, on the cliffs and beach behind The Smugglers Inn, Osmington Mills.
After six month of filming I started the solitary task of editing the hours and hours of footage into a 120 minute film. I also compiled the sound track obtaining licences for background music and specific songs performed by Nick Cave, David Gray, Anthony and The Johnsons and Gabbi Young and other animals. And so The Other Side of The Lake transformed from a short story into a feature film created for the big screen. This was thanks to unfailing enthusiasm, massive encouragement from friends and family who truly believed in the project and my enduring love of Dorset and its landscape and passion for film making.
The film premiered in June 2016 and won me the Best Director Award at the Lady’s First International Film Festival in Cork (ladysfirstinternationalfilmfestival.com). Costumes and cinematography were also highly praised.
But something since bothered me. I felt the film was too long and If I was going to reach a bigger audience the length needed to be reduced and the order of some scenes re-arranged. I wanted to improve it even further. So a second edit began and here is the 2019 version of The Other Side of The Lake.
Best Director Ladies First International Film Festival Cork