Lapwing is a dark and turbulent period Drama set in 1555 England, a year after Queen Mary passed the Egyptians Act making it illegal for gypsies and travellers to live in England. An isolated group of salt farmers arrange illegal passage to Europe for an Indian Gypsy family in hiding. A love affair between mute English girl, Patience (Hannah Douglas, Clownface) and son of the Egyptians, Rumi (Sebastian De Souza, Ophelia) threatens both communities.
Shot on location on the Lincolnshire salt marshes, Lapwing has a through-thread of bleak tension, marrying together a mixture of intensity that erupts in violence and poeticism that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.
Director Philip Stevens, resident of Scothern, is the creative director of Urban Apache Films, an award-winning UK-based independent film production company which has had a string of very successful short films and documentaries, working with the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Sir Ian McKellen. Philip also works alongside international bestselling author Giles Christian in their script writing production house, World Serpent Productions – the company which produced Lapwing. Additionally, he works as a theatre director and most recent productions include national and world tours of Treasure Island, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and A Christmas Carol which included a sellout run at The British Museum.
Indie films such as Lapwing take a lot longer to create as it is completely self and privately funded, meaning that it was a true labour of love for the team. “We shot the film 4 years ago and we would have released it around 20 months ago if it hadn’t been for covid, but in some respects, I actually think that it has worked in our favour” suggests Philip, “The world is in a place where the themes in the film – race, the female voice, being alienated, finding your place no matter what your identity, and the social perception of others are very prevalent at the moment. These are all themes that we are all very familiar with now and I don’t think necessarily even two years ago the conversation was as loud as it is at the moment, and certainly the response we are having to the film is far more than anything we could have ever expected.”
The Tudor thriller has seen reviews in The Guardian, Total Film Magazine, and even one of the world’s biggest film magazines, Little White Lies. “We were reviewed alongside films like Bond and Spencer – the fact our tiny indie film is competing alongside these films is absolutely incredible, it is a validation of all of the hard work for everyone that’s gone through this process.”
The film’s Lincoln premiere was held at Everyman Cinema on the 17th of November – the first time the feature film was shown in its hometown. “The response was just incredible, the atmosphere was amazing, it really was just the most superb event and we felt very supported. It was nice to see such a great mix of people who have been on the journey with us for such a long time but also new faces who were just coming along to see what the film was about.”
Lincoln has so much to offer creatives, and Philip settled here for a reason. “There is an incredible creative landscape here and I think that quite often it is a little bit under the radar. You don’t have to be in Manchester or Birmingham, you can run a successful film company from a city like Lincoln – from a production perspective I’ve always said that I think you can probably shoot any film of any kind in Lincolnshire, there is a location for anything- we’ve got hills, we’ve got wastelands, we’ve got the sea, we’ve got urban environments, rural environments, historical environments – often I’ve found what I’m looking for in Lincolnshire.”
If you are passionate about film and want to get into the industry, Philip says there are 2 things that you can do, “Watch as many films as you possibly can and make as much as you possibly can. Make and fail and try again and keep making things and keep analyzing how you’re making them and get better. The more that you do, the more you will get noticed, the better outlets and opportunities will come your way. I truly believe as long as you are passionate and dedicated and you keep trying and testing yourself, you will always get better, and you’ll keep evolving and moving on.”
Philip is in the process of working with Lapwing writer Laura Turner again on a folk horror film which is set in the Lincolnshire fens in the vein of The Wickerman and Midsommer.