Amberley Museum provides feature film set or Sussex production company

Filming for Vindication Swim, which tells the story of the first British woman to swim the English Channel, continued at Amberley Museum recently, just before the coronavirus restrictions came into force.

The industrial heritage museum played host to cast and crew for the Relsah Productions film, due for release in 2021.

Director Elliott Hasler, a former Shoreham College student, remains confident he can complete his project, though filming is currently on hold due to social distancing.

Elliott said: “We are about halfway through, which is good, as we are ahead of schedule. I can do some editing at home and, other than that, it is a case of sit tight and plan the scenes.

“It is definitely going ahead but it is too early to say how much this is going to impact it. We still have a whole sequence we have to shoot at sea. It is hard to say but at the moment, it should be all right.”

This film, which has also used Worthing Town Hall for a court scene, is the second for Elliott, currently the UK’s youngest feature film director.

Action shot at the bus garage at Amberley Museum. Picture: Janet Brown

Action shot at the bus garage at Amberley Museum. Picture: Janet Brown

His first film, released when he was 16, was Charlie’s Letters, an epic depiction of his great-grandfather’s World War Two experiences.

Vindication Swim is about the Brighton-born swimmer Mercedes Gleitze, who is played by Kirsten Callaghan.

Within the shadow of World War One, she fights to overcome the patriarchal society of 1920s England, along with her troubled coach Harold Best, to become the first English woman to swim the Channel.

However, after a rival comes forward claiming to have already accomplished the feat, Gleitze is forced to battle against the Channel Swimming Association in order to retain her record and her legacy.

Director Elliott Hasler, left, filming at Hurstpierpoint College. Picture: Jim Carey

Director Elliott Hasler, left, filming at Hurstpierpoint College. Picture: Jim Carey

Plays Mercedes’ coach is John Locke, who has appeared in two recent Oscar-winning films, Darkest Hour and The Favourite, and was also involved in Charlie’s Letters.

Amberley Museum provided Elliott with access to the whole site for the day, supported by its volunteers, so it provide the backdrop to enable filming of some 1920s scenes, including use of the museums buildings, vintage buses and cars.

A cast of volunteer extras from across the area arrived dressed in 1920s attire to support the filming.

These included people from Amberley Museum and other local museums, plus amateur dramatic groups, including Arundel Museum, Arundel Players, Worthing Ramblers, Steyning Drama Club, The Regis Players in Bognor, Storrington Drama Club and Brighton U3A.

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton playing William Joynson-Hicks, alongside Kirsten Callaghan, star of the film Vindication Swim. Picture: Jim Carey

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton playing William Joynson-Hicks, alongside Kirsten Callaghan, star of the film Vindication Swim. Picture: Jim Carey

Four members of Storrington Camera Club were invited along to capture pictures of life on set for publicity purposes and to share with the volunteers.

Further filming followed at Hurstpierpoint College, where East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton made his acting debut, appearing as William Joynson-Hicks, home secretary in 1927.

He appeared in a scene alongside Kirsten and used a break in filming to promote the use of hand sanitiser due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Elliott, 19, is currently at Exeter University studying history but spends his spare time making films.

He was able to make it home to Hove before the lockdown, due to a strike by university lecturers, and used the time to cram in some more filming for Vindication Swim.

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