Steel city puts epic tale back on screen
And could I do it here in Sheffield with an incredibly low budget.
Was this even possible, I wondered?
And was I the right person to pull it off if it was?
The man presenting the challenge was Sheffield businessman Paul Osborne. He had a vision about changing the way independent British films were made and distributed to their audience. And he knew how to achieve it. He wanted to make a film that no fantasy fan could resist – an Arthur and Merlin origins story set in the Dark Ages and based on the Celtic tales where these two iconic characters first appeared. These are the same Celtic tales that J.R.R. Tolkien read as a young man, before he wrote his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It was the biggest challenge of my life, but how could I say no!
Now, after two years of incredibly hard work, Arthur & Merlin is finally finished and is being released exclusively online today.
The film is a truly epic fantasy-adventure that tells the story of these two iconic characters as you’ve never seen it told before.
And I’m delighted to say that it’s also a truly ‘Made in Sheffield’ production. The biggest challenge in making Arthur & Merlin was that we needed to recreate a believable Dark Ages landscape.
We needed spectacular locations that could transport the audie nce back in time and that were worthy of a blockbuster fantasy film.
I live in Sheffield, and the production company behind the film – Movieworks – is based in the Workstation building next door to the Showroom cinema, so the producers and I already knew how much the city and the surrounding countryside had to offer.
We filmed in Ecclesall Woods and Whirlow Woods, and then at the stunning Millstone Edge in the Peak District. These locations are truly timeless and look beautiful on camera – exactly what we needed to create a rich fantasy world to set our story in. After the first Lord of the Rings films were released, tourists started flocking to New Zealand because the landscapes in those films were so spectacular.
But we can’t forget that we have spectacular landscapes right here on our doorstep, and they can make a film like Arthur & Merlin look just as impressive as anything Hollywood has to offer.
With the help of these amazing locations, my team and I have been able to make a film that looks like it cost millions of pounds, even though our budget was nothing even close to that.
We’re incredibly proud of Arthur & Merlin, and we hope that when people in Sheffield watch it they feel a sense of local pride too. This city is known around the world for its steel and cutlery.
We hope that with Arthur & Merlin we’ve taken a step towards putting Sheffield on the map as a filmmaking capital as well.
If you like fantasy films – if you love the characters of Arthur and Merlin, even if you’re just curious to see what local filmmakers have achieved on a tiny budget – please take the time to watch Arthur & Merlin. It’s easy to find online! All you need is an internet connection and a comfortable chair.
If enough people watch it, then we’ll have proven that local filmmakers here in Sheffield are able to make films that can compete on the world stage.
We’ll be able to make more films, creating more work for local filmmakers as well as bringing investment into the region.
* Arthur & Merlin is an epic fantasy-adventure of good against evil. In the film, Arthur, a Celtic warrior, and Merlin, a hermit wizard, must team up to defeat an evil druid who is bent on leading the Celtic people to slaughter.
The film stars Kirk Barker as Arthur and Stefan Butler as Merlin.
The script, written by Marco van Belle and Kat Wood, captures the same combination of magic and adventure as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, while also being distinctive and original in how it re-imagines the characters of Arthur and Merlin.
Arthur & Merlin is being distributed by the filmmakers themselves, so the only place you can watch it is on the film’s website – www.arthurandmerlin.co.uk
To make sure that as many people as possible see Arthur & Merlin it’s being made available for £1.50.
Pay by credit/debit card or Paypal or with a text. When prompted to pay on the site, enter your phone number and you will receive a code via text message.
You will be charged £1.50 on your phone bill to receive this text. No subscription or sign-up is required.
Then, enter your code into the website to unlock the film for 48 hours. You can watch it on computer, tablet, smartphone or web-enabled TV.
And you can swap the film from one device to another by entering your phone number or code again – the system will remember you have already paid.