Elisaveta Abrahall has a literary heart she read ‘I, Claudius’ by Robert Graves by age 7. Her bookshelves lined with Joyce, Yeats and Tolstoy that it makes no surprise her next film venture, which is currently being filmed, is none other than Brontë‘s Wuthering Heights. Chosen because it’s a beloved classic she has read over twenty times and she feels it’s “a rant against constraint and unfairness in society, a wild scream of revolt.”
From producing plays and films she also pours countless hours and days into intense periods of writing, immersing herself in the historical or fantasy based stories she works on.
Currently residing in Leominster her family have their roots in our county as part of the old landed gentry. Abrahall formed Three Hedgehogs Films. It offers all sorts of production services for companies to show reels for actors, but writing and directing features remains the main focus.
Q & A with the Screenwriter:
Q: How do you handle the weight of expectation when adapting a Bronte classic onto the screen?
A: There is a massive weight of pressure and also great support from various groups of people who love Emily Bronte’s work, so I am mindful of the fact that many different people have many different ideas of what the film ought to be. To that end I can’t possibly keep everyone happy all of the time, which is a good thing because it relieves me of a lot of that pressure. There will be people who think it ought to be a straightforward historical depiction, those who would like to see the underlying psychology of the characters and their social impact explored more, those who understand the very strong supernatural elements in the book and those who frankly just want to be entertained. Because I cannot produce a screenplay and film which fits neatly inside those boxes I am totally liberated to depict the book in any way I wish, so I have gone with a very personal exploration of it where we focus on many of the supernatural elements which would have been very obvious at the time of writing (1847) but are now less apparent to us. I feel the characters are not merely people but representative of society and nature on a much bigger scale. Our version is more intense than any that have gone before, it’s darker, grittier, more sexual, more violent and the characters are more rounded out, we can see why they do things, who they are outside of the parameters of the story and in Heathcliff’s case I have listened to the many fan theories about his origins and to what Emily Bronte was desperate to convey about him and everything he represents. Some people will doubtless hate it, but it is as I see it and I couldn’t film it any other way. I hope some people will love it, as it’s made with a great deal of love and respect for the author and her intentions.
Q: What qualities in actors Paul Eryk Atlas and Sha’ori Morris struck you most when deciding to cast them in the lead roles?
A: Over 150 auditions later Paul Eryk Atlas walked in and before he’d even opened his mouth I thought if he can act he’s our perfect match. Both Paul and Sha’ori are fabulous actors, they have real intelligence and depth, and a fearlessness that good actors need, so they are unafraid of nudity, violence, of making themselves ugly, of crying and allowing themselves to be vulnerable, so I do consider myself absolutely blessed to have found them, they are a very rare thing indeed.
Q: Sha’ori Morris acted and produced on Wuthering Heights and forthcoming film Tarot with you, what made you decide to work with her again?
A: Sha’ori is one of those multi-talented people that it’s just a joy to work with. She has designed many of the costumes for the production. With Tarot on hold and Wuthering Heights going forward I invited her to audition for Catherine and upon casting both her and Paul, they had such enthusiasm and creative input that production meetings almost became a group consciousness, we found we were all second guessing what the others were thinking and doing. Great communication and being a nice person to work with is a key thing for me when hiring cast or crew and although everyone on board this is absolutely lovely, I’ve worked very closely with Sha’ori and Paul and it’s very rare to find people so perfectly in tune with your ideas, so I had no hesitation on inviting them to produce.
Q: Can you share the names of any Herefordshire services or companies used for the production of this film?
A: We’ve had tremendous support from the local community and several locations are sited within Herefordshire. Broadfield Court have been very hospitable who run a vineyard in Bodenham, as have The Lion Ballroom, one of the finest Georgian Ballroom’s in the country which is sited in Leominster. We have used entirely local seamstresses to make costumes and bought our costuming supplies from ‘Stitches’ in Leominster, ‘Saverys’ in Leominster are also suppliers of great catering and wonderful crew breakfasts but perhaps the most help we’ve had has been from KC Carriages of Bodenham who have supplied all of the horses and carriages for the production as well as trained our lead actress to jump side saddle. They are a fantastic and very worthy organisation who run a wedding and funeral carriage business to help support their horse rescue. They have over 250 rescue horses out on loan and do really fantastic work and have been invaluable in making sure all tack and carriages are period specific and they’ll be supplying Catherine’s horse drawn hearse which should be a very big and exciting scene.
Q: Which underrated book do you feel ought to be adapted into a film?
A: The next one I’m doing actually, which is ‘Dragon under the hill’ by my late friend Gordon Honeycombe. After he retired from news reading he went to live in Australia and I asked him if he’d mind if I adapted his novel ‘Dragon under the Hill’ which is a very dark supernatural story about Lindisfarne and Vikings. A screenplay had been attempted once before by the actor Simon Maccorkindale, so we contacted his widow Susan George and very luckily she had what was a very good existing adaptation and was extremely happy for us to utilise elements of it in our own adaptation. We were midway through this when Gordon’s leukaemia sadly suddenly worsened and he died, but not before he had left us permission to finish and film it, so I am very excited to be doing that once Wuthering Heights wraps, as a lot of very dear people no longer with us have put an enormous amount of work into it already. It will be dedicated to Gordon and Simon.
Wuthering Heights is currently still being filmed. There will be an independent cinema release in summer 2017.
• Official Site: www.Wuthering-Heights.com
• Facebook: /WutheringHeightsMovie
• Twitter: @WutheringFilm
• Instagram: @WutheringHeightsFilm
For more behind the scenes footage watch on their official Youtube Channel found here