Team behind Toilers of the Sea film ‘getting a feel’ for island

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MEMBERS of the team who are hoping to produce a silent film based on Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea have been in Guernsey looking at potential locations and ‘getting a feel’ for the island.

The people involved with the making of the silent film of Toilers of the Sea from the book by Victor Hugo, producers David Shanks, left, Joy Mellins and production designer Eryl Ellis. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 24150918)

Producers Dave Shanks and Joy Mellins were joined by production designer Eryl Ellis on a whistle-stop tour of the island, shown around by Deputy Joe Mooney.

Starting at the site of what Hugo called ‘the haunted house’ in the book – a former watch-tower at Pleinmont – the party went on to Portelet and along the west coast before heading to La Vallette.

Mr Shanks said that the viewing was as much about the feel of the island as it was about specific sites, but they were eager to film as much as possible locally.

Mr Ellis, who is about to head to Guadeloupe to work on the next series of the BBC drama Death In Paradise, said he had been impressed by what he saw.

‘It’s absolutely beautiful,’ he said. ‘If we could film it all here it would be fantastic.’

The group had also been into the heart of St Peter Port and he said he had identified locations there which he believed could be used and made to look authentic without too much effort.

‘You do as much as you can in-camera and open the possibility for post-production to do the rest,’ he said.

This was the first of what he expected to be several visits to the island on reconnaissance trips to assess sites for potential filming.


Mr Shanks said the team had been buoyed by the reaction of islanders to the plans for the film: ‘We’ve been seriously heartened by the response of the island,’ he said.

They were getting together with a local accountancy firm to create a pool into which funding would go.

The idea of inviting members of the public to contribute via crowd-funding was also still on the cards.

Ms Mellins said that during the visit they were meeting people who had expressed an interest in providing backing for the development of the film: ‘We need development money to move it forward,’ she said.

‘There’s still a long way to go before the script is finished,’ said Mr Shanks.

‘We’ve just commissioned someone to try and write the first 10 pages and if that works we’ll go on from there.’


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