Carl Marsh speaks to three people behind The Adventures of Maid Marian on returning this heroic figure of the Robin Hood tales to the screen – Sophie Craig in the role of Maid Marian herself, writer and director Bill Thomas, and producer David Underwood – and the trials involved in getting there…
With a film like The Adventures Of Maid Marian – a small production with a limited budget – if anything goes wrong, it can cause much bigger complications than would be the case on a larger-budgeted one. Correct?
David Underwood: Well, we had a bit of a moment where our Robin dropped out a couple of days before shooting. It was daunting, but our other producer [Lucinda Rhodes-Thakrar] just said, “let’s do this.” And she’s just on the phone, and it’s bang, bang, bang – and she found somebody who’s fantastic. Dom [Dominic Anderson] is a fantastic Robin: the film wouldn’t be the same without him. And we’ve got Lucinda to thank for that.
Someone dropping out that close filming must have been a WTF moment!
Bill Thomas: Exactly that, yeah. [Laughter] I think it was 11 o’clock on a Friday, and we suddenly didn’t have a Robin. We were due to start shooting at eight o’clock on Sunday morning. So, that was an exciting afternoon.
And for you, Sophie, did you have any read-throughs with the previous guy who was playing the part of Robin? From someone you could have been gelling with to a stranger, with less than 48 hours before filming?
Sophie Craig: You know, I think the guy that was lined up to play the part before… I think it was a little bit flaky. He hadn’t signed the contract. So I hadn’t met him. I mean, am I allowed to say that I’m glad he dropped out? Because Dom was fantastic. The first time I met Dom was on a WhatsApp group where Bill went “him and her – meet each other.” And that was it! [Laughs] And then, on the first day on set, we had a COVID test, and a kissing scene. That was my introduction to him – that was all we got to prep. Luckily, we just got on really well.
Dare I ask about what other issues you may have had whilst filming Maid Marian…
Bill: The obvious massive one was COVID. That’s one of the reasons why, in the film, the cast is deliberately small – just to try to get the numbers down as much as we could. I mean, we had a COVID supervisor onboard, and did all of the things one is supposed to do – and everyone got through it without catching anything, so that was a massive relief. But at any point that could have shut us down, straight away. That was probably the thing that we were all the most anxious about.
Sophie: We had an unforeseen unit move on one of the days. We moved an entire unit and then moved it back in the same day – because when we got there we were like, “we can’t film here” because a donkey was screaming…
David: Ahhh, the donkey day! [Laughter]
Bill: Yeah, it was the sounds… we had cars, quad bikes, donkeys, planes, and a herd of dairy cows coming home to get milk right next to us.
David: It was a day when I wasn’t on set – I was elsewhere – but I got a text from Bill saying that was probably one of the most challenging and annoying days of filming he’d had in his life!
Bill: You’ve just got to feel for the cast, really. You’re trying to film like three pages of dialogue and you never make it through one take. We ended up piecing it together line by line – I’d say [to the cast], “it’s quiet. Go!”
Sophie: That was the same day we were shooting by a lake and I was lying down in the dirt tied up. It took so long to be able to get those shots. I think I was on the floor for maybe an hour in the end. Laying in the dirt, upside down, waiting for the soundman to say “go!”
David: The film industry is not as glamorous as you would imagine…
The Adventures Of Maid Marian is out now on digital platforms. Info: here
words CARL MARSH
Advertise with us.
We have a range of options across print and digital.