The Making of a Short Film at The Swan

Local filmmaker turns The Swan into the lair of criminal mastermind Sagittarius!

Way back in July 2022, the lair of a criminal mastermind, Sagittarius, was discovered three floors below The Swan! Fortunately, his wicked ways have been foiled and all is safe. For real? No, but the pub has been used once again as a film location, this time for a short horror film that will have its world premiere on Friday 13th January 2023 in an anthology feature film called “HorrorScopes”.

Title sequence from the movie Sagittarius.

When he is not busy setting fiendish quizzes for The Swan's regulars, or doing his actual day job, Martin Payne has another side line in acting, producing, and directing independent, low budget, short and feature length films. In late 2020, an opportunity came up for a short film that would fit a horoscope theme. Twelve directors each had a sign of the zodiac selected and were asked to create a horror short film for that star sign. Martin received Sagittarius and immediately thought that the pub could be put to good use as a location being so close to home. Martin says “with the star sign Sagittarius, it was clear that the horror element had to come from a centaur so I did some research and found out how nasty centaurs can be! Perfect fodder for a horror script!”.

Three actors, two standing, one sitting with closed curtains. Dark and gloomy.

Using Micky Foden-Andrews as the Location Manager was necessary for health, safety and security coverage in the pub and Martin's original idea was to set the main action in an upstairs room, but it was considered too difficult and unsafe. So, of course, the magic of the movies came into play – with the lead female character entering the pub on the ground floor and then heading down into the cellar before appearing to head downward three more floors. Of course, the cellar of the pub is only small and is as low as you can go (other than the tale of the tunnel leading to the church, of course) so the actor was filmed making her way down flights of stairs from the top floor and ending in The Coach House.

At night, an actress walking past the main gates at The Swan.

The Coach House was cleared of furniture and the pub stocks were used to ensure the criminal mastermind had a victim incarcerated and waiting to be rescued. Regulars of the pub may wonder why they didn't see any of this happening – and that is because the film shoot took place between 11pm and 4am!

Dark and forboding - just outside The Kitchen at The Swan.

Martin commented that “the first part of the film was actually shot in mine and Trudy's home, and it was a particular pleasure to welcome Pauline Peart to the project”. Pauline appeared in some Hammer House of Horror films in the 1960s and played a character in “Carry on Girls”. Other actors used in the film are current horror film actors Peter Tilley and Stacy Hart, both up and coming actors in the UK independent film making scene, whilst Martin ensured he stayed off screen and directing behind the camera. After completing the first part of the shoot during the day, the cast and crew headed to the Swan to await last orders before swinging into action. Did Martin achieve his aim of having a centaur on screen? Watch and see!

The pictures from the security cameras shown on a TV inside the main bar at The Swan.

The film produced needed to be only 8 minutes long, and that is the version that will be premiered in the genre film festival, Horror on Sea, taking place in January in Southend on Sea. However, there is a longer version available and that is the version that has been made available to the Friends of the Swan. Of course, no damage was done to the Swan pub, Micky or the cast and crew – although a number of donuts were harmed in the making of the film!

TActress ready to strike - is that a gun in her hand?

Definite thanks are owed to Micky and David, for staying after hours, and to the CIC for allowing the location to be used. With the Swan having become an Irish cottage from the 18th century, to a criminal lair in the 21st century, what might it become next?

Semi-naked man with crossbow pointed directly as us.

There's a link to the short film below; the password when prompted is 'FOTS' (for Friends of The Swan). Please note: with scenes of violence and male topless nudity the film is self-rated as 'mature'.

Mini-Market for July 2022 Ico:Forwards