Tortoise In Love

27 October 2011, 05:36 | Updated: 27 October 2011, 06:33

A film almost everyone in Kingston Bagpuize got together to make is to be shown Down Under.

The makers of Tortoise in Love have told Heart a distributor has bought the film and will be showing it in cinemas in Australia and New Zealand.

The film's been the brainchild of writer Guy Browning, who lives in Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, and who rallied around three hundred local people into getting involved either in front or behind the camera.

Guy says the deal is great news for the movie:

"This shows our film has real commercial value. It also helps in our main effort which is to get the film shown in cinemas in this country. We have been working very hard on this and we are inching forward in the right direction."

Pensioners, young mums and members of the Womens' Institute all got together to plan a six-week professional feature film shoot, which took place in the village in summer 2009.  The Heart Angels can be seen in the film in the village fete scenes, which were shot in Kingston Bagpuize in June 2009.

"The whole experience was absolutely terrific," says Simon Dando, who co-ordinated the volunteers.  "Here in the village there is such a tremendous spirit and we knew we'd be able to do whatever it took to achieve this incredible project."

"The village has a history of organised foolishness," says the writer Guy Browning.  "I knew we'd not only have the manpower to make a film, but that many of the villagers were enormously talented actors and able to play their own parts with relish."

Producer Steffan Aquarone, who was appointed to oversee the project, said: "When you consider all the obstacles that face a low budget independent movie, it's absolutely incredible this project got off the ground.  But it's because of the willingness of the village to get involved that everything was possible - from finding accommodation for up to forty people, to sorting out a pair of emergency waders at 8.30am!

"Usually on a budget of £150,000, which is what Tortoise In Love was made on, it's impossible to spend enough money on any aspect of the production, but because the village put in so much effort and time, we were able to spend the money on getting a really great cast and crew, and top production equipment."

While villagers in Kingston Bagpuize and Southmoor have been able to buy shares in the project, the villages themselves have a 'golden share', so any financial success for the film will directly benefit the local community.

"This is an unusual project because there are no A-list actors in it, and mainstreams cinemas are wary of putting on films for more mature audiences," said Guy.

"This film has a gently, undulating pace to it - much like the village itself.  Of course it's funny, but it's also very charming," says Steff.  "We're hoping an independent cinema network will be interested in picking up the film, especially with the wonderful story behind it of the village that made the film.

Special cast and crew screenings of the film - which was previously titled The Husband Obedience Trials - were put on in Kingston Bagpuize between 24 and 26 September 2010.

Watch the behind the scenes film

The Village that Made the Film from Conrad Weiskrantz on Vimeo.