The making of...
We're Coming Home – the making of
With under a year to go until the Transforming Our Theatres Appeal closes, we've launched a new trailer, We're Coming Home, which raises awareness of our fundraising campaign. It took 4 months to make, involved over 200 people and also involved directing Sir Antony Sher via a web link. Here RSC actor-turned-film-director, Chris McGill, tells us how he approached the making of We're Coming Home and how we hope it will help us with the final push to raise the remaining £5.5 million.
"The RSC's Development Director, Caroline Jones, approached me to make a short film that would highlight the memorable work of the Royal Shakespeare Company, with the ultimate goal of encouraging people to get involved with the fund-raising campaign. I hope that people will watch the trailer and see the value in making a donation to the creation of the RSC's new home in Stratford-upon-Avon.
"I was introduced to the RSC by my dad, who, in turn, used to go to the theatre with his father. My dad used to talk to me about past productions, and there always seemed to be iconic scenes that have continued to stand out over the years. So, it seemed appropriate to base the film around some key moments in the RSC's history, but put a modern twist on them to highlight that these memories will live on in the new theatre.
"There's deliberately a strong link between the Company's past, its present and future. We wanted to emphasise the excitement around the opening of the new theatre and that there is a lot to look forward to when the doors re-open. An important part of the transformation is to retain key elements of the original building, to retain ‘the ghosts' of productions gone by and to show people that the theatres' history will form a strong part of the future. What better way to do this than to focus on some of the memorable performances that audiences would remember from the RST stage.
"It was fantastic revisiting these performances. We worked with actors who recreated the roles on the RST site and then invited the RSC alumni to bring their characters back to life through new recordings of clips from the production. Antony Sher's Richard III, Juliet Stevenson's Titania, Janet Suzman as Cleopatra and David Warner as Hamlet, what an experience.
"It was a mammoth task and took approximately four months to make the trailer. It involved the co-ordination of around 200 people, including over 160 local volunteers who came to The Courtyard Theatre one rainy Sunday morning to get into costume and be filmed making their way across the Theatre Gardens to the RST site. It made quite an exceptional sight and a great crowd scene.
"Logistically, there's been a lot to organise. My colleague Katie Lias, had to identify all of the original costumes for specific scenes and make sure we had all the relevant items for filming. Everybody worked so hard. The thing that stands out about this project is the amount of support that exists for the RSC and the transformation project. Everyone who has taken part in the film has done so voluntarily, and because they wanted to support the RSC in its aim to create a new theatre in Stratford.
"We have had to rely on actors flying in to help us with the film, and we even had to contend with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, a big challenge, but we didn't let it deter us. Although the sound designer and I were unable to fly home from South Africa, the last part of the film was directed across the African continent, using Skype. It was a memorable moment directing the voice-overs for Antony Sher, Joe Dixon and Noma Dumezweni in the RSC's recording booth in Stratford-upon-Avon whilst sitting thousands of miles away on a small, fuzzy computer screen. It all worked perfectly and I hope you like the end result."