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OPINION: "The Toilers film is alive and well!"


Sunday 01 August 2021

OPINION: "The Toilers film is alive and well!"

Sunday 01 August 2021

A film adaptation of Victor Hugo's 'Toilers of the Sea' is set to start filming next year, and the producers have wasted no time in coming back to the island it will be filmed on. Joy Mellins and Dave Shanks have given an update on what to expect from their passion project inspired by Guernsey.

"The last six months have certainly proved testing for everyone and while our search for funding was hugely affected, we haven’t sat still.

As producers, we focussed our energy during these restricted times to working on the paperwork, the legals and the budget; the less exciting stuff, but necessary to move forward. We have completed the second draft budget, applied and received interim certificates for both the Malta rebate and the UK tax incentive, while also receiving signed letters of recommendation from industry specialists. Covid did mean a change in schedule so new dates were set for the early part of 2022.

Keen to maintain momentum, we were eager to return to Guernsey, so once the borders opened, early July, we booked our tickets and were off. 

We had a specific focus for this trip; to remind people about the film, to advise everyone about the new schedule, and to record Elle’s song. 

However this trip exceeded our expectations in that it encompassed several financial meetings,, making us realise that we need to be in Guernsey every month for between 10 days and 2 weeks until the finance is closed. 

Grateful for all those individuals that supported the development fund, we met with them to bring them up to date with progress, future plans and schedule, while also attending radio and press interviews to spread the word that Toilers the film, is alive and well. 

Kay Leslie, at the Chamber, has been a constant source of contacts and a supporter from the get- go and together with David Ummels invited us to the unveiling of Sally Ede-Golightly’s painting of Jaroslav ‘Yardeskie’ Novak, a fascinating evening where we met the Czech Ambassador to the UK, Peter Ferbrache, Guernsey’s First Minister and many others.

We were fortunate enough to meet with both new potential investors as well as those that expressed interest back in January, so production is looking more and more positive. However we needed to explore secure routes for the finance, that would offer comfort to the investors and provide both legal and financial regulation for the flow of funds.


Pictured: Elle and John at Apocalypse studios, and filming at Petit Bot.

Similarly, we realised there were several smaller investors that were interested in supporting the film, so we explored securing a vehicle for such monies. Through an old family friend, who is now resident in Guernsey, we believe we have found the solution. Their asset management company works in conjunction with Carey Olsen, who have supported us from the beginning and who we are keen to progress relationships. This is in its early stages, but we are excited and optimistic that these relationships will not only solve the funds issue but will move the film forward with a credible and trusted team. 

Our composer, John Cameron, joined us in Guernsey to produce Elle Lovering’s vocals for her song, written by her specifically for our film. John chose to record at the Apocalypse studios and was delighted with the results. He is now back in London, working with his musicians for the sound track which will be mixed and finished in a studio, ready for either release or promotional purposes. We also hired a local cameraman, Kit Gilson, who has helped us before, to film the recording and to complete additional footage at Petit Bot Bay, for our Director, Andy Morahan to cut together an accompanying music video.

We met with the owners/management of our chosen locations, Maisie and George, (Moulin Huet), Vicki at Castle Cornet and Mark Charmley at Sea Saviours Church. All remained extremely supportive and were happy with the new schedule. 

There’s lots of work to do and plenty of follow up meetings to schedule so we are currently working on our dates for August and September. 

We’re thrilled by the island’s continued support and enthusiasm and can’t wait to get this film on the road, to show the World the beauty of the Bailiwick, through the eyes of Gilliatt."

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