Over the past year, members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers have been putting together a short film about the Bella and the Wych Elm story, inspired by the poems in my pamphlet, Bella. The docu-drama, also titled ‘Bella’, was a project spearheaded by Ann and Arthur Fletcher (pictured above), who brought their film-making expertise, hard work, and dedication together to produce a beautifully crafted film.
This project began when Ann and Arthur saw an article about my poetry in their local newspaper. Intrigued by the story of Bella, just as I was – and, like me, in wonder at its proximity to where they lived – the couple reached out with the hope of incorporating the poems into a new film project. I was surprised but delighted to hear from them, and to learn more about their hopes for the film.
On hearing their plan for how the poems would be used, I was immediately put at ease by how consciously and respectfully they handled my material. They wanted to tell the story of Bella, not purely through the facts of the case as other docu-dramas have done, but through the lens of my poetry and the story I had woven. With the help of sound technician Gordon, I recorded audios of the poems they wanted to use. It was really helpful to receive direction from the team, who encouraged me to try different ways of reading the poems to achieve the effects they were after.
I received regular updates on how the filming was going: I got to see the filming process myself one chilly day at Clent Hills (picture below), and my parents even got involved, taking on cameo roles in the ‘Barmaid’ and ‘Spy’ scenes!
On 26th September, I was invited to the Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers’ monthly meeting, to hear Ann and Arthur talk about their experience of making this film, and to see the finished piece. It was lovely to watch the film in the company of all those who had played a part in it – narrating, acting, filming, recording sound, editing and post-production. The project was a huge success, and I feel everybody was very proud of what they had accomplished. I was thrilled with the film, and how wonderfully my words had been embellished with visual spectacle. A special shout-out to Fiona, who took on the lion’s share of the acting by portraying the title role, in all her various lives – you’re the perfect Bella.
The hard work, dedication, and love that went into the production of ‘Bella’ shines through so brightly, that it is no surprise that the film is already snatching up trophies. Recently, the film was awarded first place, winning ‘The John Player Fiction Trophy’ at the Midlands Movie Makers Festival! Huge congratulations to Ann and Arf!
‘Bella’ is still in the running for another competition, so fingers crossed for that! If you’d like to see a small clip of the film, do take a look at the trailer, below.