Hello, I’m Harry Pearson, the director Dryades Theatre Group. I decided to adapt The Quest of the Golden Girl for screen in the hope that more people will get to know this brilliant work by Richard Le Gallienne. Here's how it came about:
In summer 2015, I was staging a production bringing Pre-Raphaelite paintings to life in a dilapidated mansion on The Bishop’s Avenue in Hampstead. I had a part time job on a little cobbled alleyway called Flask Walk, selling bric-a-brac outside an antiquarian bookshop. One sunny afternoon I met Tom. Sometimes you simply like the look of a person. He said to me, 'You know, you look a lot like Marc Bolan’, then we were friends. At Oxford, Tom had come into contact with certain obscure authors of the 19th Century, one being Richard Le Gallienne. ‘Harry’, Tom one day said to me, holding out a dusty old leather-bound edition,‘you will love this book’.
Upon finishing reading the book, I thought,‘There’s only one thing for it; I’ll have to live the book!’. It is all play; all adult make-believe. I wanted to go on a quest of my own, a quest to share Le Gallienne's story with everyone. I spent Autumn at work in a teahouse adapting the book for screen, and in Feb 2016 began the production of one chapter as a short, to use as a pilot for a feature. I had no budget, but I did have striking material and a strong vision.
In April, I borrowed a friend’s bicycle and headed for the same hills of Surrey that Le Gallienne roamed some 120 years before. A few weeks later my friend had a broken bicycle and I had my exterior locations (I was conscientious, when writing the screenplay, of which interior locations I had free access to). I sent the script to some friends and formed a crew, I scoured every agency and casting website for a great cast, I designed the sets, chose the costumes, got the props, set the shoot dates, hired the gear, arranged the transport, made some sandwiches, and a before we knew it a merry troupe of us went out for the summer and came back in the autumn with a film!
(Amusing memories include Steve falling over into a load of bluebells, the Long Quest for the Moonlit Dingle, making a rain machine in 5 minutes, a horse destroying a lawn, and bribing a builder who was restoring Leith Hill Tower with a cup of tea to allow us to use his crane.)
In August I phoned some more friends and got a post-production team together. Working in Molinaire, Twickenham Studios, and with Kode, I edited the film myself and oversaw each element of the post-production process. We completed in November, and in Feb 2017, for the premier and wrap party, I arranged an immersive screening in London: an Edwardian country fair in one of the interior locations. There were hay bails, country games, a ceilidh band and and cider!
The response we’ve had to the pilot has been overwhelmingly positive, I’m only sorry that it’s impossible to show the many facets, moods, textures and nuances of The Quest of the Golden Girl in a 15 minute short. It was a pleasure spending time with such passionate and talented people making this wonderful little film. Speaking personally, I made some great friends and had a true experience.
Here’s to Quests, may we all have them! If you’d like to be part of the production of The Quest of the Golden Girl, I’d love to hear from you.
Director of Dryades Theatre Group