Probably you don’t know what Moonfleet is, unless you are a geek like me and still own every book they made you read in grade school, including the J. Meade Falkner classic, which you have re-read on your own time many times, including just last year, and secretly dream of turning into a movie, but a proper one that actually tells the story, not a lame one that changes all the good bits.
Whew. That was a long sentence. But that’s Moonfleet – it gets me so worked up I forget to punctuate.
Because pirates and diamonds and….smuggler tunnels!!
So picture my reaction when we were scouting locations in Upton-upon-Severn and the mayor casually dropped this bomb on us: “Oh, by the way, there are smuggler tunnels under the village.” Just as la-de-da as if he was telling us there was gum on my shoe.
Wait a minute.
!!!!!! (That’s better)
The thing is, I need a spooky cellar. So to get an offer of smuggler tunnels is like looking for a modest bowl of vanilla ice cream and getting handed a triple scoop fudge brownie banana split. My joy was uncontained.
Off we went for an explore of the tunnels, which date back to the days when Upton-upon-Severn was a robust river port bustling with pubs and brothels and smugglers. Underneath Croome Antiques,
guided by the fantastically easy-going owner Lee, we found eerie objects fossilized in the silt that had swept up the tunnel from the river several hundred metres away. Creepily awesome! (We also saw orbs, and my camera did strange things, but that’s another story.)
Later, we toured the fabulous cellars under Waterside House, an old bonded warehouse converted to flats inhabited by some of the most interesting and genial people you will ever meet. Just a stone’s throw from the Severn, they are the stuff of film director dreams – long and dark and spooky with plenty of hidey-holes for things to pop out from behind. They even come pre-dressed with spider webs.
Hooray! And again – evidence that we are in the most friendly of small towns – as the people who live above those cellars and tunnels literally threw open the doors for us and welcomed us in. (For Moonfleet fans I should add that they did NOT lock the doors behind us and leave us trapped in there)
I am giddy with delight. This film is going to look stunning, and it is going to be such a pleasure to shoot around this supportive population. I can’t wait to screen the film in this town next year, for all these great peop
I'm the writer-director and more or less the mother of this film.