Film with connections to county hits international festival circuit
- Credit: Sunny Hoyle
Film festival audiences around the world have been queueing up to see a First World War story with its creative origins entrenched in Suffolk.
Based on a play Oliver Lansely, The Trench is inspired by the true story of sapper William Hackett, who gave his own life saving fellow soldiers from a collapsing tunnel on the Western Front.
The short film is the work of students from the University of York’s Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV) department.
One of them, producer Lucy Shepherd, now graduated and embarking on a career in the industry, grew up in Henham and began making films aged 10. The 22-year-old went to Thomas Mills and Woodbridge School, where one of the film’s cast studies.
She said: “It started small but we soon realised the film’s potential and the difficulty we faced digging an underground tunnel. It’s not an easy thing to do with a budget of £12,000 but we were kindly given the use of a barn to build the 25m tunnel, and a field to build a trench.”
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The trench was dug on farmland in the village of Uggeshall, near Halesworth. Before filming, the production team contacted University Campus Suffolk (UCS) to find a suitable actor for the role of a young soldier going to war.
Woodbridge School pupil Charlie Crick found out about the film and discovered its producer was his old neighbour, Lucy.
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The 16-year-old was enlisted to help dig the trench but was then asked to appear on screen, along with schoolmate Chris Silovsky, who also got a role.
Charlie, who donned prosthetic facial injuries during filming last February, said: “Filling the shoes of a young soldier was an interesting and exciting experience but particularly daunting to think that as I stood there aged 15 on the film set, many people of a similar age would have been at the front risking their lives during the First World War. I also had a feeling of poignancy as my great-grandfather was killed in the trenches.
“It gave me more of a blunt insight into the reality of war, especially the more obvious factors such as the weather. Just being out in the freezing cold conditions whilst filming was something I had not experienced, so I could not imagine what it was to be in the trenches for such a long period of time and not have the option of having a cup of tea in the trailer.
“The experience of digging the trench was amazing to see how it progressed – how one minute there was a muddy field and the next a war zone.”
The film also stars Kevin Guthrie, Tom Lawrence, Marvin Campbell and Tony Prince.
It is currently circulating international film festivals and has been selected for the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in Seattle at the end of April.
You can find out more about the film at thetrenchfilm.com.
Copies are £7 and available by emaiing email@example.com.