About the Production
Alice: ‘You only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling.’
Director/writer/producer Navin Dev reveals that he began the journey in creating ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ from a personal perspective.
‘The core theme of ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was to tell the story of an adult survivor of child abuse. It’s a very personal idea, stemming from the complexities one undergoes as an adult if there hasn’t been any form of psychological closure from childhood fears and angst.’ Dev elaborates upon the film’s fantasy horror genre, ‘Fairy tales are symbolically attuned to constantly narrate to our subconscious states. They are essentially tales which have always aided us as children to undergo our own fearful transformations and growth. Mary Ann’s journey into her self to find a sense of psychological closure through her internal struggles unites splendidly with the greater realm of the fairy tale and how she is immersed into one. Therefore in ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ we present the world of her fears in an elaboration of the dreamscape fantasy world of the Red Kingdom.’
‘The Red King is a pivotal character from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’, explains Dev, ‘What struck me about that story was the particular idea of dream reversal – who’s dream was it? Was it Alice’s or the Red King’s? That immediately created a sense of panic on Alice’s part since if she doubted if it was all her dream, she would doubt her identity in the greater scheme of things. This fear for loss of identity causes one to constantly question oneself and to look within. This is something that Mary Ann is indeed forced to do in ‘Red Kingdom Rising’.
Production of ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was achieved on a no to low budget within a purely self funded basis. The entire cast and crew volunteered in dedicating their time to the project. ‘It wasn’t just a labour of love but simply a need to narrate good cinema. ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ is a traditional coming of age story that any audience can recognise. I infused it with its own identity, style and integrity in terms of the landscapes, characters and narrative.’ says Dev.
Pre-production commenced nine months prior to shooting within which extensive concepts and designs were created. Special Make up Effects Supervisor Mike Peel (‘The Descent’, ‘Zombie Diaries’) would spend months designing the complicated character make up prosthetics as well as the full scale intimidating Red Kingdom fantasy world which would be housed in a studio during the shoot. It was also during this time that director Navin Dev undertook extensive rehearsals with his cast.
Dev had trained at the infamous Method actor’s school Drama Centre London, which boasts such alumni as Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy, and his approach was very theatre based. He explains, ‘’Red Kingdom Rising’ is about family dynamics in how Mary Ann as a child was a victim of parental betrayal in the form of her abuse. That sets up so many complexities within her family unit and how the roles within it have become blurred and corrupted. The characters of ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ almost become similar to those within a Chekhov play because of how they are so intertwined with each other yet so distant. Therefore my approach with the cast was to constantly narrate this complexity and integrity within their characters and how they sustain each other’.
Finding the right cast proved difficult, particularly with ‘Red Kingdom Rising’’s budget as Dev elaborates, ‘To undertake any unpaid role within a feature film is always much to ask of from a cast nowadays yet many understanding and admirable actors were readily interested upon reading the script. It was somewhat of a challenge to find the right actors amidst the numerous ones who auditioned as I had to find ones who could fully embody the roles with believability. Finally the right actors were chosen and they dedicated themselves thoroughly to their complex roles, all on a voluntary basis. It is truly commendable.’
‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was shot during a five to six period over several parts of the U.K such as London, Surrey and Leeds. Mary Ann’s family home was a hard but fortunate find in the Victorian gothic house Ravensprings situated in Brighouse, just outside of Leeds. The owner proved very supportive of the film and allowed the crew full access to the intimidating yet enchanting house, with Production Designer Anna Mould transforming the building into its various thematic stages. ‘Anna dedicated herself in creating the several stages the house takes in representing the dream world, the real world and Mary Ann’s past’ says Dev, ’my inspiration for the style of ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ ranged from Gustav Dore’s fable paintings, artist Mark Ryden’s work to many graphic novels’. The crew worked closely with Navin Dev in cinematically creating this style and to project it onto the film’s Super 16mm format. This particular format was chosen by the director due to its organic quality which would uphold the organic visual style of a fairy tale.
‘I admire the Super 16mm format and have always worked on it. It creates an organic fluidity and gives ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ that timeless, fairy tale look’ explains Dev. The shoot of ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was extreme due to the stylistic enormity of the project in contrast to its low budget. Yet the flow of the production proved well due to the preparation and organisation of the director and his cast and crew. For example, the cast had developed an acute familiarity with the script and were therefore able to perform their scenes on virtually one takes, thus enabling an enormous benefit to both time and money.
‘Red Kingdom Rising’ is a solid example of the possibility of creating an elaborate world from virtually nothing. I embrace the cast and crew for understanding my vision and the story I needed to get across and subsequently aiding me in creating its fantastical canvass’.