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Lights, camera, action… and contemplation

John Mclean Fox and Denise Fellows(Easteal) talk about their new role as Film producers.

It is strange where pro bono work leads you and certainly we were not expecting to become film producers when we got involved with supporting a fellow tertiary Franciscan on his concept for a film on the life of Saint Francis.  We thought we were there simply to provide advice on marketing, finance and governance.  How wrong we were!

Text Box: Figure 1 Stephan Chase playing the Pope here before he left to play a General in ‘Malificen’t with Angelina Jolie ‘Finding Saint Francis’ was conceived in 2012 and it was filmed at Hilfield Friary in Dorset during Summer 2014, and premiered at the British Film Institute in London on 5th November 2015 – a very exciting occasion! The film is imaginatively structured around the life of a City finance worker, Peter Stone, who is suffering ‘burn-out’ and ends up at Hilfield for relaxation and recuperation. In fact he is in for a shock, as he is recruited by the director, Paul Alexander and his film crew, into acting the part of the young Saint Francis. The story of Francis’ life is merged with the current life of the Hilfield Community, so the main actors mix freely with the Brothers and other members of the Community. The play within the film combines a comprehensive narrative by Paul performed to an audience in the open air in the peaceful setting of the Hilfield...

Fig.1:  Stephan Chase playing the Pope here before he left to play a General in "Malificent", with Angelina Jolie

...graveyard, with highlights of Francis’ life filmed in specific scenes around the Friary. Some poignant and moving moments are portrayed, such as Francis frantically rebuilding San Damiano, celebrating joyfully, kissing the leper, setting up the crib at Greccio, meeting the Sultan, receiving the stigmata, and finally dying. Hilfield is a brilliant, contemporary setting, and viewers have commented on the ‘freshness’ and ‘beauty’ of the film. The magical music, composed specially for the film, enhances the scenes in a powerful way – this film has significant artistic merit in addition to its main purpose as a global mission project.

Text Box: Figure 2 Production meetings were sometimes quite relaxed!

The DVD of the film is accompanied by a separate booklet ‘Stories and Reflections’; it summarises the film’s content, is beautifully illustrated with shots from the film, and highlights relevant stories and quotations under the headings of Searching, Finding, Living, Ending to aid reflection. Also included in the DVD is a seventeen minute documentary, consisting of a video made during the filming process. It gives us personal views of the actors and other commentators, with a relaxed description by Paul of his own hopes and aspirations for the film.

Fig. 2: Production meetings were sometimes quite relaxed!

Further information and DVDs are available from the film’s website:


                                              Liveryman Denise Fellows   
Liveryman John Mclean Fox