Caviar writer/director, Ollie Wolf, has directed a film of Shakespeare’s powerful ‘Sir Thomas More’ speech. The film opens with channel surfing, before settling on a news report from the Calais Jungle.
He comments: “I first heard the monologue being read by Sir Ian McKellen on a podcast and it had a resonance that really stuck with me. Looking into the text I realised that it was very much a unknown Shakespeare play that had never been filmed dramatically before. But the moment where I realised we needed to bring it to life was when a selection of 37 films were made for his 400th birthday. Sir Thomas More didn’t make the cut and with everything that was happening in Calais at the time it felt it was a speech that needed to filmed.”
Ollie has worked on the passion project for nearly a year and with the refugee crisis very much still at the fore and Trump’s recent actions separating and detaining children, he felt that it was time to get the project out into the world.
“We shot the film in a single three-minute take within the Jungle camp itself. We were extremely lucky to have the help and support of Care4Calais who made sure camp residents were comfortable with us filming. During the two days we spent inside the Jungle we saw first hand the incredible work they were and are still doing in the area to clothe and support people caught up in the conflict.”
He continues: “What surprised me the most was how different the camp was in-comparison to how the British media had portrayed it. They had spun this Mad Max dystopia narrative, when in fact there was a small high street with shops, two restaurants, and guys cutting hair in the street. It was incredible to see that strength of the human spirit coming through as they really have created something from nothing.
“One story which stuck with me was how the camp had come together to send €1000 to the mother of a boy who had been killed by a lorry. It made me realise the power of the collective community there. In many ways its greater there than it is in parts of London sadly.”
Ollie wanted to find a new structure within which the speech could live. To update it if you like. He notes: “I had always loved Peter Finch’s monologue in the film Network and thought it would be interesting idea for the speech happened during a Live interview. The presenter breaking all interview conventions and launching into this monologue seemed like an exciting concept and luckily it seemed to work.”
The greatest challenge though was pulling off the scene in just one take. Ollie comments: “It’s a tough text but couple that with doing the whole scene in one go, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves! The actors John Jack Beale and Laure Stockley did a fantastic job and kept the energy up until we hit that sweet pot where all the elements aligned and we got it in the bag."
On the UN Refugee Agency’s recent use of the speech, he concludes “it’s interesting to see that they used the speech too, being associated with Kate Blanchett is no bad thing!”