The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons by Sophie NevilleThe true-life memoir of a child star. In 1973, Sophie Neville was cast as Titty alongside Suzanna Hamilton and Virginia McKenna in the EMI/Theatre Projects movie of Swallows & Amazons. Made before the advent of CGI or digital technology, the young actors lived out Arthur Ransomes epic adventure, with all of its camaraderie and thrills, on location in the British Lake District.
As part of their schoolwork, the children were asked to keep diaries about their time spent filming. Meanwhile, the hip young crew from Elstree Studios were getting to grips with transforming 1970s Windermere in mid-holiday season into a 1929 idyll.
They never guessed that their happy Woodstock-on-wheels experience would become such an enduring worldwide success, still screened on television and at festivals today.
This heart-warming memoir is illustrated with colour photographs, most of them taken at the time by Sophies family, and contains links to behind-the-scenes home movie footage for readers with browser-enabled tablets. It delivers a double helping of nostalgia for both fans of the era of Arthur Ransome, and the groovy times of the early 70s.
‘A “treasure trunk” of insights into the making of the film.’ Arthur Ransome Trust
‘I could not put it down! …I think the maps are brilliant, right in character….ITS LOVELY!!! I’m enjoying it too much.’ Roger Wardale, biographer of Arthur Ransome
‘…It is wonderfully entertaining.’ Richard Pilbrow, Producer, Swallows & Amazons 1973
‘You write so well and have so much covered. I really, really laugh reading this! The missionary bit is superb. Moving. Quietly so.’ Suzanna Hamilton, Mate Susan in Swallows & Amazons
Sophie has reminded me of one of the happiest times I ever spent on a film. The fun that was had, the friendships forged, the challenges overcome, are all delightfully recalled with a freshness and sense of adventure that has made me smile all over again. Virginia McKenna, OBE, actress and founder of Born Free Foundation
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On holiday with their mother in the Lake District in four children are allowed to sail over to the nearby island in their boat Swallow and set up camp for a few days. They soon realise this has been the territory of two other girls who sail the Amazon, and the scene is set for serious rivalry. This was the film of my childhood, I grew up with first the books and then this film. I can't offer any critical analysis of this as I am way too wedded to this movie and the idea that kids could go sailing on a private island. Claude Whatham directs the original version of the family adventure about four young children who go boating while on holiday in the Lake District in Cumbria. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Arthur Ransome, which was published 44 years earlier, the film is set in the s, the story concerns four children on vacation in the Lake District, who encounters two tomboys. The children call themselves The Swallows while their two pals become The Amazons, and together they go on board a number of escapades.
Swallows and Amazons is a British film adaption of the novel of the same name by Arthur Ransome.
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Looking back through the original screenplay I can see that the answer is, not many. The shots of finding Swallow in the boatshed, bringing her out and raising her flag were moved forward, under the Voice Over of the Walker children reading out the letters to their father. There is a scene in the book set at Holly Howe when medical supplies are being packed for the voyage. This was shot with Virginia McKenna at Bank Ground Farm above Coniston Water, but must have slowed down the pace of the film as it was replaced by a montage of shots, which are much more exciting. Making patterans on the way to the charcoal burners, was a lovely scene from the book that was recorded but never included in the film. Captain John can been seen explaining how gypsies use them as secret markers in this black and white still from the film.
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