"Sean did a fantastic job - his voice is perfect - perfect - for the narration
and gives the imagery and text a real gravity. A solid professional and a
genuinely nice man too."
source: Alan Coltman, director, 03.10.2009, e-mail correspondence with rg
Short Film - UK - 2009 - 5 mins
Premiere 24. April 2009
Winner Best International Short Film
"The disturbing records of death penalties conscripted soldiers often received for insubordination, cowardice, desertion or even falling asleep at one's post are legend.
In the British army, this was never more so evident than the brutal and cynical accounts of the First World War - where soldiers were sentenced to death by firing squad for shell-shock or 'low moral fibre'.
Wilfred Owen's 'Strange Meeting' was selected for a number reasons - for it is darkly ironic that 'the enemy you killed, my friend' was indeed a friend.
To set this poem against the imagery of the drumhead (summary court martial) of a WW2 German soldier fulfilled three objectives - to reveal our shame, because Owen's words are lost as history repeats itself, and reflect Owen's own consideration with regard to the fundamental differences between friend and foe - ultimately, there are none...
Thirdly - to illustrate the overwhelming manipulation of humanity by political-military means. The most heinous example of this is self-evident throughout the films imagery.
Drumhead was made because Strange Meeting is my favorite poem - and these are more than precious and beautiful words - this is a message from the past that must never be lost."
Alan Coltman - October 2009
WITH SEAN BEAN
I briefly met Sean Bean in 1994 when he was making the feature-film, When Saturday Comes. At the time, I was a film student frequenting the Sheffield Independent Film offices where the production was based.
Having always been an admirer of Sean's work, during an interlude of the films press conference (held at The Rutland Arms pub opposite SIF) I introduced myself to Sean and exchanged a few words with him. Immediately, I was struck by how unassuming and gracious he was - we shook hands and I wished him well with the production (he was, after all making a movie in his home town about one of his favorite passions - football).
I remember thinking to myself; what a gentleman - wouldn't it be great to work with him someday...
Years later, I found myself looking for the narrator of our short film, Drumhead. Certainly, we needed a high-profile artist, who's name could not only stimulate interest in the project, but also provide a very distinctive voice - complimentary to the 'voice' of the film. This voice would furnish the project with a solid foundation and lend the requisite gravity and eloquence to Wilfred Owen's words.
When I approached Sean's ICM agents, I truly thought our small yet worthy film wouldn't stand a chance of making it past the dollar-sign custodians.
How wrong I was.
Not only did they forward the script/poem to their client - Sean agreed to spend some time with us to record the voiceover. Apparently, it wasn't the Sheffield connection that was the deciding factor, but Sean's fondness for Wilfred Owen (his favorite poet as a schoolboy).
Fate more often than not lends a hand.
A few weeks later, sound supervisor Stevie Haywood and I met with Sean at the Sound Company in London to make the recording. Once again, friendly and uncomplicated - Sean's voice had a little more 'gravel' than I anticipated, but it was absolutely perfect for the narrator - a soldier, exhausted by the fight. This was the voice of a war-veteran.
To hear Sean progressively improve upon each line and intonation as we recorded each take was pure magic. Directorial input during the reading was minimal - I clarified some of the meaning of the text and threw in a few analogies - then Sean would 'nail' it.
Such is the case when you're working with an instinctive talent.
I still shake my head with wonder as I play back that original recording - many thanks, Sean - you are the cutting edge, Blade."
| upload rg/10. Oktober 2009