The making of Annabel Lee
An interview with Nathaniel Parker
Photo by Neil Oseman
21 November 2019
The original Edgar Allen Poe poem was written in 1849 but the Annabel Lee film project began in 2018 as a Kickstarter. Fifty-three backers funded the production of this Gothic short film, written by Angel Parker, who appears as Annabel in the film.
Nathaniel Parker, perhaps best known for his lead role in the Inspector Lynley series and playing Agravaine de Bois in Merlin, plays the priest in this film and also came on board as a producer.
As Annabel Lee does the rounds of the short film festivals, I was fortunate to be able to interview some of the people behind it: and today I interview:
1. What inspired you to take part in a story about Poeís Annabel Lee?
Actually, I didnít know it very well before Angel introduced me to it. Thatís one of the benefits of having such an imaginative daughter! I had heard of it and I read it wondering how Angel could possibly tackle it. Well, she did, didnít she!
2. The poem is 170 years old Ė why do you think it endures?
Nearly as old as me. Well, all good literature survives the test of time. Not all of Shakespeare does, but the stuff that does is a joy. So too with poets. Look at Blake or Rumi. Like them, Poe hits at your heart. Those heart-driven emotions never seem to change, do they?
3. What were the most challenging parts of producing and filming the Annabel Lee short film?
Oh, blimey, where do I start? Raising the money was so daunting. Then Robson (Green) appeared, then my family, then Melanie (Roylance). I feel blessed, I really do.
But that was just the beginning. Finding the right director, the right actors, the crew. These are all things I had never done before. I mean I have been around for quite a while, but not in this capacity. So exciting. Luckily, I had Angel as an anchor. She knows even less about the technical side, but her inspiration drove me. I couldnít believe I was getting a chance to work with my daughter on such a wonderful project. I know it sounds soppy, at least that is what my mother would have said, but itís true. Again, how blessed am I?
Then, of course there was the first night. After so much preparation, getting cottages, and buying food, and transporting and all the other logistics, the first night we lost 5-6 hours thanks to the camera truck going off the single-track road. I was up that night until 4 a.m. cleaning pans for the food for the next dayís lunch. Then up at 6 a.m. That was an experience. Oh, and you know what else was challenging, coming off the same single-track road 2 days later in my car, and escaping, if not death, a really nasty accident. But all this was completely forgotten when I was on set and saw Angel and Alex acting their socks off. That was when I cried!
4. What did you love the most about making it?
I think I just answered that question. The pride swelled up in me and I donít think there was one time when they were on set that I didnít have at least a wee tear.
5. Did you learn anything about your art (or life) while making it?
I learnt I that have more than one life. I may even be a cat, although I am allergic. I watched with admiration Angelís imagination play out. Life is a compromise. The world wouldnít turn otherwise, but art is pretty true. Joy.
6. What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
I hope they donít take only the angst I have highlighted. I hope they take away that life is complicated, and that love is demanding. And that, if this was my little Angelís first foray into screen writing: a) anyone can do it! (honestly, she was a dyslexic little thing to start with), and b) follow those dreams!
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