Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens and Emily Browning lead the cast of this British film about Bohemian artists in the early 20th century.
Synopsis: Set in the early 20th century amongst a group of Bohemian artists living in Cornwall, the action centres around the real life love triangle between British artist Alfred Munnings, his friend Gilbert Evans and the girl they both loved, Florence Carter-Wood.
Director: Christopher Menaul (Prime Suspect)
Screenplay: Jonathan Smith from his novel, based on the diaries of Gilbert Evans
Producers: Produced by Pippa Cross and Janette Day for Crossday Productions, together with Jeremy Cowdrey for Apart Films
Cast: Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Emily Browning (Sleeping Beauty)
International Sales: Cam Galano (ex New Line) is selling through her new company Speranza 13 Media
Finance: ‘vanilla’ equity investment model with 70 investors.
Locations: Cornwall and London
Release: Plans for a February 2013 release
On the origins of the project
Jonathan Smith (writer): I was introduced to David, the son of Gilbert Evans, by a friend. When his mother died he found his father’s diaries from 1910 an 1914 and he showed them to me and it became clear that he and Munnings had been in love with the same girl. So I got the story from those. It’s all essentially absolutely true, just with some dialogue added in. After the book came out in 1995, the reviewers said it was a very visual story and that it would be a good film. Then my lifelong friend Jeremy [Cowdrey of Apart Films] bought the rights in 2005. Someone else wrote an earlier version but they [the producers] didn’t quite like it enough and I took over and started afresh.
On the shoot in Cornwall
Dan Stevens: It’s gone terrifically well. We got so lucky with the weather and it was all on schedule. Everyone is still talking to each other. It was one of the nicest casts I’ve ever worked with. We’ve had a blast. And Cornwall is such an extraordinary place.
Christopher Menaul: We were shooting in January and February. It would have been impossible to shoot in Cornwall in the summer. Even with just our unit we had to have quite sophisticated traffic control because otherwise we would have caused a gridlock just on our own. So if we had had all the summer trippers down there, the beaches would have been impossible to police.
On the tone of the piece
Menaul: Because of the time of year there is a kind of bleakness about it. I didn’t want to make it look chocolate box. I used two cameras nearly all the time. I encouraged the cast to improvise so there is a free and easiness. Some people might say it’s a bit Robert Altman.
On the depiction of famous artist Alfred Munnings
Dominic Cooper: People have strong opinions of him. And he himself was difficult and opinionated. But I kind of like that. I’ve learnt to not be fearful of playing a real-life character. You will always disappoint people and some people know him better than others. There is no video evidence of him, but there are biographies and his art work. It was a relief not starting from scratch and having to make it up from scratch. I find that more difficult.
On making another period drama
Dan Stevens: This isn’t so much a period piece as a character driven, story driven, romantic drama at heart of it. These artists colonies at that time were progressive in the way people behaved and dressed. It’s not as period detail precise as Downton Abbey has to be. We have been able to play fast and loose because of theenvironment they were living in.
On the Dominic/Dan dilemma
Jonathan Smith: I often ask my female friends at dinner parties who they would choose. Dominic and Dan are two very different kinds of men who are attractive in different way. Some say definitely Dom, some say definitely Dan. And some say both!