Filming In Folkestone – Everyone’s Going To Die
Want a fantastic location for a film? Think no more about filming in Folkestone! Everyone Is Going To Die – a film from 2013 – is about two characters and their interaction with each other. The film is littered with local Folkestonians, and fantastic location shots of the town. Director Max Barron spoke to Folkelife about why Folkestone played such a crucial part in the film.
Can you give a brief summary of the film?
“It’s about two very different people who are each in a difficult time in their lives. Neither of them really know how they got where they are or what to do next. They meet, and each of them becomes the catalyst for the other to see things more clearly and find a way to move on”
Why did you choose to locate the film in Folkestone?
“The story was always set by the sea. It has a significance to the characters and the plot. When we were looking at locations, Folkestone maybe wasn’t ‘on the map’ for people outside the area in the way it is now. The Triennials had just started and we went down and looked around and instantly fell in love with it, both visually and in terms of the people, the atmosphere. It’s hard to imagine now that we ever thought of setting it anywhere else.”
How did you go about casting the film, there were many locals in it.
“This is kind of a long story, but the main characters were cast through relationships we had, and just the luck of getting the script in front of Nora (Tschirner), who is a very big deal in Germany but not known really over here. Rob Knighton we had worked with but he’d never done much acting. So that was an unknown quantity but it really worked out. The supporting cast were a mix of people we cast through a casting director (like Maddie Duggan), or say Kellie Shirley who we got to through Nora, and then we filled that out with local actors where we could. There are locals all over the film, behind and in front of camera. There’s no way the film would have been possible without them.”
International Reaction to Folkestone
“The response surpassed any expectations we had. The film went around the world, won a bunch of awards and made it to cinemas in various countries, including the UK. We still get emails every few weeks from people in Argentina or wherever asking for copies, or details. The best thing of all was listening to and talking to people who watched the film and hearing their thoughts. Of course when we look at it, we see all the things we would have done differently, but to hear people connecting with it in the way they did was really inspiring. No doubt there are people who hate it! But they seem to be less likely to come to us and say so…”
What was their reaction to Folkestone as its location?
“A big part of what we wanted to do with the film was to treat the place in a beautiful way, and make it a character in the story. The films we’d seen set by the British coast always seemed to be gritty and miserable, and that wasn’t what we saw in Folkestone at all. We wanted it to be a good advert for the town, as well as helping the atmosphere of the story.
“Everyone, all around the world, thought the place looked amazing. Every single Q&A we did, we were asked where the film was shot, and we got to tell the story of Folkestone, its history and the amazing things that are happening there now.”
Tell us about filming the scene in the Harbour with the main characters tredding water, that looked a little chilly!
“It was freezing! Although the truth is that the close up shots in that scene were shot in a swimming pool, with the background put in in post-production. But all the wide stuff we did for real, in the harbour, with the brilliant help of the local diving club, who worked as our safety divers. We had a stunt double jump off the bridge, etc.
“The camera was in a small boat, and we obviously had to shoot at high tide, which at that point was really quite late at night. So it wasn’t exactly warm outside the water, never mind inside. Nora had done some filming in water before and covered her skin in duck fat to help her stay warm. Rob wasn’t interested in that and thought he could just man up and be fine. After about 3 minutes in the water, Nora was still more or less alright, but Rob was shivering so much he could hardly say his lines…it was a victory for experience over machismo!”
Stunning locations to film in folkestone
“There are so many favourite locations for me, and for different reasons. It’s impossible not to mention the Old Railway Station and Harbour Arm, which of course is now being beautifully renovated, but there was also something really special and filmic about it when it was abandoned. The Grand is an extraordinary building, and worked really well for us. Then there were people’s houses where they let us film, like David and Susan Germaney, which are a special memory because they were so generous and made the experience of shooting in Folkestone really special.
“It’s only in the film briefly, but the Leas Coastal Park is a magical place. No other British seaside town I’ve ever been to has used the seafront in such a sensitive and natural way. Down there, you have no sense that the town exists at all.”
Do you think the feel of the film would change if you filmed it now, knowing how much the town has changed in the last 6 years?
“That’s a really good question. I actually live in the area now. After falling in love with it during the filming, I found myself drawn back more and more often, and eventually had to stay. We travel a lot with work, and every time I come back, it seems like something new is happening. The work people are doing to make that change happen in a way that’s sensitive and benefits the people who have lived in the town for many years, is quite incredible. It just seems like a very exciting time.
“What we loved about the relationship between the town and our story was that our characters were people who had maybe lost their way a little, but were just turning a corner and finding their identity and sense of purpose again. It’s a story about letting go of the past and looking forward. That’s something that was happening to Folkestone as we were filming there, and at the time it definitely had elements of both, but really the new beginning felt more like a few green shoots at that point, and now of course it’s in full flow.
“I think we would have had to work harder now to find those places that connect back to the lostness, or that felt a little unloved, but it would have been easier to find those elements of positivity and hope.”
What sort of film would you make in Folkestone today?
“Folkestone is a completely special town – partly due to the history and the way it came to be laid out and designed. The fact that you have these grand old Georgian terraces on the Leas, then the fishing fleet in the harbour, then the old town and Creative Quarter, the East End, and then all the nature – the different beaches, the cliffs and little coves. It’s a great setting for any film because it has all that variety, and at the same time it doesn’t feel in any way like the classic English seaside town, with a road running along the sea and a bunch of hotels and arcades.
“Story wise, maybe the most interesting thing would be a documentary about the way the town is changing, and the different challenges of that. It’s a microcosm of society in a way, because change always creates opportunities for some people and disorients others. But ultimately it’s not something we have a choice about. Some kind of change happens whether we like it or not, and how we respond to that change personally, and how we manage it as a community, seems to have a lot to do with whether it ends up being positive or negative.
“As an outsider who nonetheless cares a lot about the town and has a big emotional investment there, it does seem like Folkestone has a unique chance to be a positive example of change, because of the type of people who are arriving there, the people who have already invested in the town since way back, and the way they’ve gone about it. Not everywhere is that lucky. Then again we’re going through a moment as a country where it seems to be fashionable to look backwards rather than forwards, so it would be really interesting to look at how that plays out.”