There was once a very geeky nine-year-old boy who was had been dragged along with his Gran to do the shopping on warm August day. As the expedition moved to the butcher’s shop and the bags had become heavier Gran realised her grandson was becoming fidgety. She glanced up and then pointed across the road to an Old Saxon church, its great oak door wide open.
And in the days when kids could she said, “Why don’t you go an explore?” The boy needed no other encouragement and dutifully member of “The Tufty Club” looked both ways and crossed the road entering the cool of the church. Light was streaming through the windows and he saw that on the opposite side from the oak door was what looked like an Arab lying in state carved in beautifully smooth white stone. An old man, oblivious to the boy, was dutifully polishing and cleaning it with a ragged red cloth.
In the conversation I had with the old man he explained that is was an effigy carved by a man called Eric Kennington. He told me who the man was, why he was dressed as an Arab and eventually after a potted T.E. Lawrence biography, how he had died following a motorcycle crash. And he said something which was enigmatic, “…not all accidents are accidental,” he said.
The conversation and that the last statement had a great impact on me. The next summer when I returned and in the 10 years that followed I was taken to Cloud’s Hill, the crash site, Moreton and the Grave, Wareham Museum and of course St Martin’s In the Wall again and again. I read about T.E. Lawrence veraciously and watched TV documentaries and of course “the film”. For me T.E. Lawrence (or Shaw as he had become in later life) was a hero. I realised that he was still regarded as the same but the locals.
Once I had exhausted what I had read I began to investigate more and surmised. I began to realise that Lawrence’s death had some strange circumstances attached to it. In the 30 years that followed that I had written (what I believed) was a watchable and strong screenplay, which I thought people might like to watch. Finding no production company who wanted to make the film (and boy did I try) I began salting away savings which eventually became enough to make the film.
The film had a tiny budget in comparison to most movies. For two years I became Location Scout, Producer, Props Master, Set Designer, Production Planner, Casting Director plus chief cook and bottle-washer to the point where were my wife and I were saying, “Bet Ridley Scott doesn’t have to do this!”
Eventually in October 2018 we had our first day’s shoot. I was blessed with a fantastic core crew – Simon, Kirsten, Jennie and Jan. I had a wonderfully engaged and hard working cast and now a huge army of supporters. We were filming in a beautiful area that had become my adopted county. In June 2019 we wrapped filming and January 2020 had edited the movie.
I have no idea how many hours is has taken to overcome what was an epic challenge. However, I am pleased that what you are about to see on your screen is the consequence of little boy wandering with curiosity into an old church.