The YouTuber has announced his first feature film based on the novel by Caroline Smailes, to be released through his production company Fireflight Film. Luke chats to TenEighty about the project.
“My business partner Josh and I were shooting a video for Emma Blackery called The Promise and we cast a girl called Sophie Wright in the video,” Luke Cutforth tells us, on how his latest project came about. “Sophie happened to be secretly be involved in a feature film called The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, who’s director and production company had just dropped out of the project.”
“Sophie said she enjoyed working with us and thought we were so good that she put us forward to the writer as a potential replacement. We set up a few meetings and they seemed to love us! So eventually we signed rights to the production of the film, and I’ve been writing the screenplay ever since.”
Luke’s first feature film, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, is an adaption of the book by Caroline Smailes of the same name. “An unflinching account of the pain of adolescence and how first love can transform the most unhappy of lives into something miraculous,” when the opportunity arose to turn it into a film, Luke couldn’t pass it up. “I read the book while out on a tour in Australia and fell in love with it instantly,” he says. “I also love the author, Caroline. She is amazing and deserves everything that could ever be thrown at her.”
“This book is a challenge. It’s set in two different time periods with so many dark and difficult themes while still being an uplifting and positive story so it’s an exciting project to undertake! I feel like it’s a story type that hasn’t been told yet and it’s so raw and so real that I had to turn it into a film. It will be a coming of age story with so many nuances that can speak to so many people on a personal level.”
Although having worked on smaller assignments, this is Luke’s first experience of a film on this scale. With so many different parts to the project, we ask what challenges Luke is looking forward to, or dreading. “Everything!” he laughs. “The whole process is daunting from the acquisition of funding, to spending 6-8 weeks straight working 14 hour.”
“At first I was dreading the screenplay but I’ve climbed that hurdle so I suppose now I’m just dreading the pressure placed on the director to rally the whole team. Any fear I have for any part of the project is massively outweighed by my sheer excitement to finally get this started though. It’s been well over a year in the making and I’ve had to keep it secret this whole time so I’m so thrilled to finally have it out there and to get started!”
Luke isn’t working on the project alone however, but with his business partner, Josh Winslade. Fireflight, the company releasing the film, was founded by the pair when they were at university together. “We sat down for a coffee and planned out how we were going to win a competition run by Samsung, and we were successful!” says Luke.” Shortly after it became clear that we worked incredibly well together and complemented each other so well, filling in where each other’s flaws are.”
“I’d been toying with the idea of starting a company called Fireflight for a long time and had a few projects coming up with Emma, so we threw caution to the wind and went for it. Over the next few months we did adverts and music videos for different people and started building a name for ourselves. Fireflight was registered on a fountain in Cheltenham; we sat down there for an hour talking about everything to do with our brand, how we run our company and what we stand for. So that’s where it all started!”
“Kickstarter has an incredibly vibrant and creative community who will be a joy to work with. I know there’s a lot of lovely people out there who might like to help me realise my dream and get involved in the process. Kickstarter is the ultimate way to fund if you can pull it off because it gives us and the funders the power, not scary business people!”
And how will all the money be spent? “The money will be spent entirely on locations, cameras and lighting, and the creative people required to make it happen,” says Luke. “No money will be going to me. I’m very determined that I do this whole thing for free if I’m going to ask people to help me fund it, and nothing will be wasted on unnecessary costs. I’m working with a great Assistant Director and interim Producer Lex Beckett who’s been BAFTA nominated for a short film already. He’s been amazing at driving costs down.”
“We’ll also be spending money to allow some of those who backed us to see the film, give feedback and potentially shape the finished project. But we’re determined to make this for as little as possible. Our goal of £75,000 might seem like a lot, but it’s actually tiny compared to most films. And of course, the more we raise, the better the film will turn out to be!”
The project raised over £10,000 in the first hour. Support The Drowning of Arthur Braxton via Kickstarter.
Read more about how the project came to be in our cover interview with Luke.
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