Did you catch producer/actor David Barckhoff’s roles as a police officer in the Tom Cruise film, Jack Reacher, or as a basketball referee in Matt Damon’s Promised Land? For his new Winston Churchill film which he is producing, Struggle to the Light, Barckhoff will film with Slumdog Millionaire associate producer Jenn Nkiru…and he may, if negotiations work out, be working with top notch talent like Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper of The King’s Speech fame. The movie will be shooting in several locations from July to September, aiming for a 2014 release date.
The premise of this film sounds great, if not pretty difficult to make happen precisely. How are you making this film look, sound and if it were possible, smell like the past?
We are going to use period costumes and wardrobe that are either close to or exactly what people were wearing in London & New York City during the May 1929-May 1940 time line of the film’s story. We are also using period vehicles, trains, and film in and on locations that were built prior to this time period and on actual locations that were used by the Churchill family during this time. Such as their family home called Chartwell, The war room bunker in London, HMS Belfast Battleship moored in the Thames river & near The Parliament, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, (William Penn Hotel, Benedum & Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh). Strasburg, PA Train. We are also building some interior sets in the famous Pinewood studios. Also we are using the last remaining airfield still in operation from the Battle of Britain. We will use music from that time period or use music that sounds like that it came from that era. Some good movie & TV examples with similar look to our film are “Boardwalk Empire”, The Kings Speech, The Untouchables from 1987, Gangland, Miller’s Crossing, History Channel’s “Men Who Built America”(I acted & was 2nd Assistant Director in two episodes) . There maybe some scenes that CGI- Computer Generated Imagry-Computer Graphics will be needed to provide the appropriate time period backdrop.
What did you learn while researching Churchill in this time period before you worked on the film?
Winston’s Mother was an American and his Father was British. So technically he had dual citizenship of the USA and England. Also most of the events in this movie had actually occurred. It is very close to historically accurate as possible.
In the years leading up to World War II, both England & France followed a similar diplomatic path of appeasement of Germany. As Nazi intentions became clear, France pushed for a harder line but the British demurred, believing diplomacy could solve the disputes. The result was the Munich Agreement of 1938 that gave Germany control of parts of Czechoslovakia settled by Germans. In early 1939 Germany took over all of Czechoslovakia and began threatening Poland. Appeasement had failed, and both Britain and France raced to catch up with Germany in weaponry.
The film’s web description talks about the “toll it takes on his family, friends and closest advisors.” How did you demonstrate this? How did you also demonstrate this throughout the film in nonverbal gestures with the script and your planning?
Some of Winston’s advisors end up arrested for treason for speaking out against the appeasement policy.
Winston’s family starts to leave him for a short time because they can’t handle the stress.
Sarah Churchill moves to New York City from London to marry stage actor Victor Oliver(the character I’m playing), despite her parents Winston & Clementine’s disapproval & is vehemently opposed to. They want her to do into politics like her father Winston. Sarah is opposed to that “life style”. There is a subtext that both Father & Daughter are alike in someways and both overcome opposition to get what they want. Father wants England & USA to go to war against Germany while Sarah wants to be an actress and not be a politician like her father.
At the time, he wasn’t always popular. Why do you think we look back differently on him, other than obvious reasons? What about him as a man?
He has resolve. He remains true to his moral principles and fights to preserve the interests of his fellow citizens and his country. He has an underlying premonition of the impending doom that will soon plunge almost every country into taking sides during World War 2 a few short years later.
The agonizing decisions that are made and those that will have to be made during these very troubling times, will weigh heavily on one man. Do to the circumstances, these events will bring about one man that-despite great opposition, will rise up as leader of a nation to unite his country and the world to fight, oppose and ultimately defeat a fierce and determined enemy and the tyranny that was left behind by Germany and Japan. That one man is Sir Winston Churchill.
While others use fake backdrops, big studio productions like James Cameron’s work included, you’re going to be on location in Pittsburgh, London and Manhattan. Wow! How are you going to take advantage of this? What do the planned sets and backgrounds look like?
We plan on building sets in the famous Pinewood Studios that closely resemble the 1930’s time period.
What do you anticipate when you begin shooting? What about for the finished, edited film? Why do you think Winston Churchill is an exciting personality who stands the test of time?
We anticipate everyone to be prepared to have fun, learn and to give 110% to make this movie story come alive in the spirit of the now deceased person’s that our actor’s will be portraying. Along with making this one of the best or the best movie’s of the year that will be seen worldwide during it’s release in May 2014. To coincide with the 69th Anniversary of the end of the World War 2 in Europe.
During the 1930’s there was a strong appeasement and isolationism philosophy among many countries. Most had a small military and were inadequately prepared to defend themselves in a time of war. The preferred peace instead of conflict. Sometimes standing up to an aggressor is not the only thing to do but is the right thing to do under those circumstances. Sir Winston Churchill had to over come many people who had this peace mentality so he kept saying and warning everyone he can to strengthen their military & to oppose the aggressive nature of the Nazi Regime, Mussolini’s Italy, and Japan.