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States back Toilers film with £25,000

States back Toilers film with £25,000

Tuesday 22 October 2019

States back Toilers film with £25,000

Tuesday 22 October 2019


£25,000 from the Future Guernsey Fund has been committed to the development of a film production of Victor Hugo's novel, Toilers of the Sea.

The money is being put toward the development of a pitch package, which will be used to raise funds for the film itself.

The Producers, Dave Shanks and Joy Mellins, said they need between £50,000 and £100,000 to put together that package, and then estimate a budget of £10million for the production itself. They are looking for investors in the idea at the moment to hit their initial targets. 

"Last December we were over here for my sister's birthday and there was a lot of talk about the Potato Peel Pie film, and there seemed to be some angst about the fact it wasn't filmed on the island," Mr Shanks said.

"Joy kicked me under the table and said now was the time - I have been wanting to make this film for years - so we went back to the UK and started to form a plan."

Joe_Mooney_2.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Joe Mooney has been in talks with the producers for some time, and was able to shake hands with them on the island's investment into what could be a huge tourism opportunity. 

Mr Shanks was brought up in Guernsey and said he had always liked the novel, written by Hugo when he was living in the island. Both he and Mrs Mellins are experienced film producers, with many contacts in the industry. They have already reached out to some parties, but want to ensure they have some nest egg money ready to go before they get people to commit their time to the project.

They were in Guernsey yesterday to meet with Economic Development members Deputy Charles Parkinson and Deputy Joe Mooney, along with staff on the committee. They have been in talks with them since one of their visits earlier in the year, and were now able to shake hands on the money. Mr Shanks explained that the idea for the investment came about when they were first discussing the idea of the film with the States. In his experience, people viewed the States as not wanting to pay for the projects, but then to take the glory for them. 

After considering this, they managed to secure an offer for the investment. 

Filmed in Guernsey

Both Mrs Mellens and Mr Shanks were excited about the prospects the film had with being tied in to Victor Hugo and his relationship with Guernsey. They said they had already seen enormous amounts of enthusiasm for bolstering the island's tourism offering in relation to Hugo, and were keen to be a part of that. They even spoke about ideas such as making part of the film's set - which will be mostly filmed in the island - permeant, so it could remain as a 'living museum'.

town harbour boat yachts yacht Guernsey st Peter port tourist tourists boats water sea

Pictured: They plan on filming the majority of the film in Guernsey, with some parts done in a studio in the UK. 

Mrs Mellens acknowledged that the Potato Peel Pie film had not wanted to film in Guernsey because of the associated costs with bringing a film crew over here, housing the cast and so on, but said she disagreed with that viewpoint: "it is a false economy if you really think about it. It might cost to come over here, but you can source extras on the island, and you get the enthusiasm of the island - people being keen to help and so on. We really don't think it will make all too much of a difference to the costs." 

Why Toilers of the Sea?

Toilers of the Sea was written by Hugo when he was living in Hauteville House, looking out over the Little Russell. The States have recently been pushing to have Hugo's name become more synonymous with the island.

Mr Shanks said he thought at its core, the story was a perfect love story, and deserved telling on the big screen. 

As someone who was raised in Guernsey, he has always been aware of it, and said the book has always, to him, been directly linked to the island. 

What happens next? 

The money Mr Shanks and Mrs Mellins are currently raising will go toward the assembly of a pitch plan. This will outline the budget, who they want to fill particular roles, what kind of time frame things will take place over and so on. They estimate they will need £100,000 for this, but do not want to start working on it until they have £50,000 in the bank so they can begin to pay people for their work. If the project falls through before they can start this process, all of the money will be returned.

After that, the co-producers will need to raise the budget. They said all investors will earn their money back twice, mostly before principal photography begins. 

So far, they have secured the money from Economic Development, and also money from a number of other investors, but are still looking for more interested parties. To get in touch, go to the website toilersfilm.com. 

"I have always been distantly interested in working on this project, and there was one time I was this close to pulling the trigger [...], but this time we are serious about it," Mr Shanks said, "we are going to put our pedal to the metal and we are going to do it for this beautiful book."

Pictured top: Dave Shanks and Joy Mellins, co-producers for the project. 

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