Magazine article Screen International

Ben Wheatley Explains A Field in England's Multi-Platform Strategy

Magazine article Screen International

Ben Wheatley Explains A Field in England's Multi-Platform Strategy

Article excerpt

As A Field In England prepares for its multi-platform release in the UK, director Ben Wheatley and producer Andrew Starke were in Karlovy Vary to present the film in competition.

Ben Wheatley's latest film, fully funded by Film4's digital arm Film4.0, sees the director visit the English Civil War with a tale of battle, alchemy and magic. Surreal, brutal and shot in beautifully stark black and white, the film has all the all the elements for which Wheatley has become renowned for, from the air of dread it manages to conjure up to the vein of the surreal that runs throughout.

So what was it about the English Civil War that appealed to Wheatley?

"It comes from wanting to make something about that point in history. I kind of had a tortuous route to get through - I'd been writing various versions of the script for about 10 years," explained Wheatley at a press conference at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

"I originally came to it as I'd read a book about Paul Verhoeven and he'd spent time with the Dutch Army, filming them doing beach landings. So he'd managed to shoot stuff that was quite large scale very early on in his career and it helped him with Starship Troopers and stuff like that. So I wanted to shoot something that had massive scale.

"I ended up working with The Sealed Knot [the Civil War re-enactment society] and when I started working with them I read up a bit more on the history and it was really fascinating. It's the part of history that influences how we're living in the UK now. I think a lot of the troubles and complications that the characters deal with in my other films start with the Civil War period."

Risky release plan

The film is due for a groundbreaking release in the UK which will see it released on all platforms - theatrically, on DVD and VOD and on free television - on the same day [today]. Isn't this something of a risk?

"It sounds counter intuitive. On the face of it people are going 'If you get something for free, you'll get it for free instead of paying for it'," said Wheatley.

"But I don't think cineastes think like that. I would say the best place to see A Field In England is in the cinema.

"Throughout periods of releasing films with a smaller release, the basic rule of thumb is that it doesn't matter how good the press and reviews are - if the cinema is too far from people's houses they won't go. …

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