Casting for the new film adaptation of ‘Swallows and Amazons’

Sophie Neville with Swallow

Sophie Neville with Swallow on Coniston Water, Cumbria

Nick Barton of Harbour Pictures, in collaboration with BBC Films, launched a new adaptation of  Swallows and Amazons on 19th August 2016. They hope it will be the new Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia franchise, but are yet to start casting.

I joined him and his wife on the first recce to the Lake District in 2011, staying at Bank Ground Farm, sailing Swallow on Coniston Water and taking a boat trip down Lake Windermere in Cumbria. He went on to find locations on Derwentwater and in Yorkshire with his director Philippa Lowthorpe  who developed the new script with Andrea Gibb.

To see a clip of the opening scenes, starring Kelly Macdonald and Andrew Scott – please click here

If you want to know what it was like to be in the film made back in 1973 ~  please click here: https://sophieneville.net/category/autobiography/

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Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

57 thoughts on “Casting for the new film adaptation of ‘Swallows and Amazons’”

  1. Ahh so it is this year for sure then eh! , I saw the little teaser they put up on Vimeo a few weeks back. Geez, I wish I was just a “little bit” younger and had the right accent! Are you working on this film in any way Sophie?

      1. I’m assuming they’ll find some more appropriate music when they come to shoot the film! But otherwise it was a gorgeous nostalgic tour of the Lakes… memo to self… must get up there again soon!!

          1. Lovely idea, but sadly I’ll be really busy in May / June helping to oversee moving a nursing home. Perhaps I’ll go in September when things have calmed down a bit!

          2. Sophie, we did attend the Coniston Regatta at Bank Ground Farm at the invitation of Greg (engineer of the S.Y Gondola. My other half showed his 1/8th scale model steam launch, which was met with much appreciation and admiration from all who attended. We had a lovely few days in the Lakes and sadly the outdoor viewing of the movie wasn’t possible as a surge in the generator burnt out the projector. However the lovely Jonathon of Bank Ground farm moved us all (after a lovely hot pot supper) up to view it in the farms visitor lounge, which was much better :o)
            I just wanted to add that about 15 children from toddler to teen sat without a peep for the whole duration of the movie.. Just goes to show that they can still love Swallows and Amazons today. In fact I think that it was something of a novelty to watch something with ‘real’ people and places instead of computer generated rubbish and cartoons. Keep up the good work.

            1. How good to hear about the 2013 Coniston Regatta. I wish I could have been with you.

              Tell me if I am wrong but it seems to be the same every time. Children snuggle down and watch ‘Swallows & Amazons’ in complete silence, totally absorbed – often much to the surprise of their parents. When adults declare that the 1974 film will be received by children of today as out-of-date, I know that they have not watched it recently. The story is not strong but the idea of camping alone on an island or living on a houseboat must capture the imagination. I am sure the movie can be improved upon (it certainly can be updated technically) but somehow the simplicity works well, on either big screen or small.

              When I tell children that the Swallows were based on a real family they are not at all surprised. However, while adults want to know what the children who acted in the film are doing now, and how the film was made, most children don’t want to find out. It would spoil the magic. To them, Titty is nine-years-old, and always will be. I am somebody else – a film-maker lady. They tend to wait shyly whilst their parents are intrigued to find out what – perhaps just an inflection of the voice – has remained unchanged.

              It’s been FORTY years! This seems difficult to grasp. Many people burst into tears when they see the little film ‘The Secrets of filming Swallows & Amazons’ that we made recently, and yet can’t quite explain why. It must be about looking back on time, nostalgia.

  2. Very interesting. I thought this project had died. Good to hear it’s going ahead. Are they planning to do all the books this time? Pity you didn’t in the 70s.

    1. I know that Nick would love to make ‘Peter Duck’ and ‘Winter Holiday’. He has aquired the rights to adapt all the books, it is just raising the finances that is difficult. Filming in the Lake District is more expensive that you’d ever imagine.

    2. Richard Pilbrow really wanted to go on to make a film of Arthur Ransome’s book ‘Great Northern?’ as he loves the Hebrides but raging inflation made raising film finance near impossible in the mid-1970’s.

  3. Cant see how they could do all of them with the same children, unless they made them back to back and that isnt going to happen. Sure hope they do do some of the others… Peter Duck and Winter Holiday could deffinately be made exciting enough to keep a modern audience interested. Actually, I’m sure they all could.. Anyway, wishing Nick and his team all the best on this most worthy project!

    1. I think if they “cheat” a bit they could use the same lot – by cheat I mean that someone in their early twenties can be made to look sixteen. So if, say, the girl playing Titty was around eleven when they started, she might be twenty five by the time they film “Great Northern” but could probably get away with it.

  4. Are they looking for local children? My daughter is 7 but we live in Buckinghamshire – would love her to be involved! Do you have any more info about what they’re looking for?

    1. I’m sure you can always apply. You can find out about the characters they are looking for and their ages simply by reading ‘Swallows and Amazons’. Seven might be too young for girls but then the film might get delayed. I don’t think living in Buckinghamshire would be a problem.

  5. I think my 7 year old will probably explode with excitement at the idea of a new film. I’d better not tell her – I don’t think she’ll understand the timescale of film-making. Shame she’s too young for the casting, but I’m not sure she’d be interested in playing anyone but her heroine Nancy.

  6. They have put a teaser on Vimeo. Everyone should add a comment there to let them know that there are plenty of us out here excited about what they are doing!

        1. They might want to use ‘Mavis’ or other boats but the have the contact details for the ‘Swallow’ and for the ‘Amazon’ used in 1973. It’s the houseboat which is the big issue. Nick and I went to see ‘The Esperance’ at the Steam Boat Museum – I’ll write a blog post about it soon.

          1. All power to your persuasive ability. The use of Esperance for the houseboat was about the only thing that was pleasing about the 1960s BBC film.
            Avoid Mavis at all costs. I don’t know the currant state of Coch-y-bunddhu, but she would make a rather good Amazon.

  7. I can’t speak from experience, but Mavis is a strange shape, rather like rowing boat and so slim bowed that her stability does not increase as she heels. Richard Pierce, a local dinghy expert told me ‘Mavis, in my opinion is without a saving grace!’ He added, ‘I thought the boat’ was a killer’. It was a long time ago, but he was right.

    1. Richard told me the same a few years ago, and I have no doubt he is right: I passed this on to Nick Barton when I first heard about the film, but never heard back. Let’s hope they aren’t duffers…or perhaps Sophie could have a word! Ransome’s Coch-y-bonddhu is fine and sails well: she would be a wonderful choice…

        1. Coch-y-bonddhu belongs to the Arthur Ransome Society and they keep her at Windermere St Anne’s School, where the public can see her (when not sailing on a TARS event): we happened to meet her on Coniston Water a few years ago (we’re often sailing and rowing a Norwegian faering down at the High Nibthwaite end) and the children – all ardent AR fans and hardened sailors – blagged a sail.

  8. Sophie,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I brought it to the notice of our young sailors and on Saturday I one excited told me he has got through the first stage and is waiting to see if the video he submitted will get him through the next. I feel nearly as excited as him.

  9. Hi Sophie,
    my daughter is the character of Titty to a tee! have we missed a deadline for casting, do you know? She is a great sailor too

    1. I am sure you can still write in to the casting director. Email ASAP with a photo, details of your height, swimming & sailing experience and your normal accent. They’ll need a self-made clip of you on film (Youtube or Vimeo) If you are too old for this film I am sure she’ll keep your details for another. Hope this comes at a good time for you!

  10. Will they be making movies of ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six’? If they do then I suppose they will be looking for a different set of child actors and.actresses, right? I applied for Swallows and Amazons at the beginning of April and got the auto reply saying that they would reply within 4-8 weeks (1st May-31st May) if they were interested in me, but I haven’t had a reply yet.

    1. I don’t know anything more about the casting I’m afraid. you could always contact them but I expect it is something simple like your Date of birth. ‘Coot Club’ does have entirely different characters. You could always write to the Producer suggesting her makes it into a movie! He would appreciate your enthusiasium for Arthur Ransome’s stories.

  11. I really want to audition but I haven’t been asked I really want to do acting for my career plus I live in the Lake District

  12. my daughter attended the casting workshop on saturday 14/3/15. what a lot of children there ! she is waiting with fingers crossed 🙂

      1. hello sophie !

        it was held at kirby kendal school . she is obviuosly from the north so i think they had her in mind for peggy . anyway there was loads there so we will wait 🙂

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