Island tales

IN OCTOBER last year, between the lockdowns, I spoke to local residents Lars Janssen and Charlotte Dawn Potter, two filmmakers who had created Guernsey Filmworks, a division of Revasser Films, which is also based on-island.

They had a very interesting remit: to create feature films under the label of Guernsey Filmworks that are locally produced and present historical or contemporary stories in or from the Channel Islands.

Now, nine months later, several projects have been completed and many others are being scheduled.

One such project is Lorelei.

‘It is a WWI thriller-fantasy that was entirely filmed in Guernsey and Lihou and we were granted access to the German Underground Hospital to film several scenes and we recruited cast and crew members in Guernsey,’ explained UK-born Charlotte.

‘We already knew the story of the pilot who parachuted onto Lihou in the Second World War but we have set our film in the First World War.’

The film follows pilot James Mannock who, after an intense air battle, crash lands into the ocean only to be saved by the mysterious nymph Lorelei (played by Charlotte). He is then pulled between two realities. In one he spends his days by the rock pool with Lorelei and in the alternative world he is locked in an underground mental hospital.

The question is, which one is real? Is Lorelei a desperate escape into the world of his imagination or is she a memory that no one but James will believe ever happened?

Lars and Charlotte believed Lorelei was the ideal way to show Guernsey’s untapped potential.

‘We had everything we needed on-island,’ said Lars, who is originally from the Netherlands. ‘All the people we wanted to work with were on-island, including someone who does visual effects and some actors. We visited Lihou and filmed there all day. We then did three hours of underwater filming at a hotel swimming pool.’

The crew had a great time filming on Lihou.

‘We all climbed down into the rock pool, carrying this expensive camera,’ said Charlotte. ‘But afterwards we all had a nap on the grass, the tide came in and we got marooned.

‘But making Lorelei confirmed to us that we wanted to make films in Guernsey.’

‘Making films locally also benefits tourism,’ said Lars. ‘Dorset, where Broadchurch is filmed, has reported an increase in visitors because of the TV series. In Guernsey, Culture & Heritage has given us a list of specific places that would be great locations to film at, all of which show Guernsey at its best.

‘We’ve also had meetings with Guernsey Arts. One of the locations they suggested was the Victor Hugo bench that will soon be installed by the Town Church.’

With Guernsey Filmworks working alongside Guernsey Arts, Lorelei will soon be ready for its public debut.

‘It’s currently in post-production and we’re working on the sound, music and visual effects,’ explained Lars. ‘It will have its premiere later this year.’

However, other projects are already under way.

The first is a feature film, a horror called Underground, and filming will begin in autumn.

‘During spring 2022 we will be shooting our second feature, Endgame,’ said Lars.

‘Lorelei has high production values, but Endgame will be even more ambitious,’ said Charlotte.

A coming-of-age football drama, Endgame is about a young football player who has been training hard, but his hopes of a professional career are complicated when he falls in love with a new team-mate.

The casting process, in collaboration with a renowned UK casting director, has already garnered interest from several well-known actors.

Another film in the pipeline, no doubt compounded by Guernsey Filmworks’ inspiring location shoot there, is Priory Of Lihou, a contemporary thriller set on the island and based on the legend of the Priory of Notre Dame de Lihou and the murder of the monks.

Both films will be made entirely in Guernsey.

Guernsey Filmworks is making an investment in the island that Lars and Charlotte now choose to call home.

‘We’re making it a community effort for all ages and we’re working with the College of FE to set up a production HQ there,’ said Lars. ‘Students studying art and design and the performing arts will be able to gain knowledge of working on a film, its production, sound, behind the scenes skills, even the opportunity to be in a film. Film touches on every aspect of the arts.’

Working with local charities is also something Lars and Charlotte are keen on pursuing.

‘We want to be able to give back to the island, especially though working with mental health and well-being charities,’ said Charlotte. ‘Also, as Endgame concerns LGBTQ issues, we’d work alongside Liberate. We’re trying to get as many organisations on-board as possible.’

Primarily, though, Guernsey Filmworks is looking for investors to fund its first feature film, Endgame.

‘We would want investors from Guernsey,’ said Charlotte. ‘Which means it involves the local community and benefits the island’s economy.’

‘Investment is open to anyone and starts at £30,000 per participation,’ said Lars. ‘By participating, investors will receive revenue or return on investment via the worldwide theatrical, physical media and streaming sales. Companies can also contact us to explore potential partnerships or a sponsorship.

‘Several UK distributors, sales agents and streamers have already shown interest in purchasing Endgame. Therefore we have certainty that we can distribute the film to a worldwide audience.’

  • To find more information about Guernsey Filmworks, interested local investors can visit www.filmworks.gg.

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