For second day of filming “Druids Pilgrimage,” Roland Keates the director had envisioned the location to be in a small cabin with a hearth similar to one in a Viking longhouse. We had actually found the cabin, with a small hearth in the middle of the room with benches around with sheepskin blankets. This is what Roland based his script on when he wrote the docu-drama.
Well this wasn’t to be, and a new location had to be found as time was floating by. Roland decided to ask his uncle and aunt, if he could use their old country cottage and orchard just outside of Belper, Derbyshire for the interior and some exterior scenes.
Their 16thcentury farmhouse is surrounded with a beautifully designed cottage garden and woodsworthy of Vita Sackville West and Capability Brown combined. The orchard has the oldest pear tree in the county so it’s a wonderful location to shoot.
Dressing of the Tree
A week before the shot, the pear tree was dressed with strips of red material or clouties or clotties depending where you live. Roland had wanted to show in the documentary how Druids and pagan alike see trees as sacred instruments between death and life. Dressing of a tree in this way was common practice around the British Isles and Brittany and continues to this day in certain sacred spots. The term derives from local words for rags or strips of cloth.
The strips of rags are a prayer of intention, a gesture of acknowledgement and respect for the spirits of the land. Roland wanted to use the tree, so it was fitting to say thank you to the tree. Although he isn’t a pagan per se, or a druid, from early on in his childhood he was always told to respect nature and his surroundings.
The cauldron of fire
The docu-drama has many symbolisms in including the use of the cauldron of fire. Many Pagans will understand the use of sacred fires and Druids believe if you burn an amulet which had lost its effectiveness you should throw it or them into the sacred fires. The ashes should then spread on Mother Earth.
On Good Friday, the location was swamped with actors (plus chaperone) and a film crew of ten people which include the director, make-up artist, lighting technician, cameraman, sounds assistant, stills photographers, caterer and production assistants. The film crew parked all the vehicles in the green meadows scattered with spring blossoms below the house with tall fruit trees which were ready to blossom and curving paths of the nearly ten thousand square meter property.
Wisteria in full bloom spanning the length of the house and the flowering camellias were the ideal backdrop for Gemma’s running scene on a lawn cut to perfection which Alan Titchmarsh would be proud of.
The shooting schedules are full on starting from 7.00am in the morning with the crew setting up at 7.30am, actors arriving at 8.00am and the shooting starting at 8.30am. Garden furniture, plant pots are moved and the picturesque white conservatory right next to the house decorated by the film crew completely.
The exterior shots were filmed in the orchard with David Knight (Dylan) playing the part of the druid. David is an actual druid from Nottingham grove and part of The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids (OBOD). Roland chose David for the role as he feels and lives Druidry and he wanted the documentary to be as authentic as possible.
The interior scenes were shot in the quirky granny flat which is about 100 years older than the main farmhouse. The granny flat is self-contained with its own bathroom and a facility to make hot drinks.
The flat’s lounge was converted to the Druid’s lounge with 71 lit candles which were supplied by Richard Lang and Son Gift Wholesaler and only using additional filtered tungsten lamp to illuminate the room, giving it a moonlit effect.
As these interior scenes were supposedly set at night, a blue filter was clipped to the lamps to give a wonderful blue effect, saving on time in the editing suite.
The lady who played aunt Moria (Sam Badman) was only available in the morning, so the shooting schedule had to account for this, ensuring all her scenes were done before midday. Luckily all went to schedule and plenty of promotional shots were taken too.
Lunch break was a jolly affair with food and drinks (wine and cider included) freely flowing with hosts, actors and crew interacting together.
After a full day’s work, we all sat down with fish and chips and a glass of wine and fizz to thank the day for being so kind to us.
To find out more about Richard Lang and Son Giftware visit Richard Lang website
Sam Badman can be contacted via Starnow website
Dylan Knight can be contacted via Mandy Website
Emmie Salcedo can be contacted via Roland Keates