Budding actors in wartime roles

JPCT 151211 30 extras being filmed for new war-time film at Gatwick Aviation Museum, Lowfield Heath Road, Charlwood. Extras Paul Daly left and Tom Betteridge. photo by derek martin
JPCT 151211 30 extras being filmed for new war-time film at Gatwick Aviation Museum, Lowfield Heath Road, Charlwood. Extras Paul Daly left and Tom Betteridge. photo by derek martin

A NUMBER of young Horsham men donned war-time uniforms last week to help re-enact the heroic story of the longest ever bombing mission in World War II.

The young would-be actors were given roles as extras in the film Shady Lady for scenes being filmed at the Gatwick Aviation Museum in Charlwood.

The movie is the latest in a series of real-life tales being made by Horsham-based film company Fact Not Fiction Films.

Among the extras taking part in the Charlwood shoot were Alan Arnold, 28, of Birches Road, Roffey, and brother Paul, 33. Alan, whose day job is as an IT consultant, said: “I’ve never acted before but I just thought it would be a good experience – and it’s been interesting to see how it’s all set up.”

But the bit-part was not the first time brother Paul Arnold has trod the boards – he’s appeared as Fat Sam in a local production of Bugsy Malone, and has also starred in football crowd scenes for Sky Sports.

“This being local, I just jumped at the chance to take part,” he said, “and it was good to do it with my brother.”

Among other extras was Paul Daly, 19, of Coneycroft, Roffey. “My dad read in the County Times that the film company wanted extras so I applied to take part,” he said.

Paul, whose ambition is to find regular work as an actor, is hoping to go to drama school next year after working with the National Youth Theatre this summer.

Bio-chemistry graduate Tom Betteridge, 22, from Barns Green, decided to try his hand at acting after his grandfather told him that the County Times had run an article saying that the film company Fact Not Fiction Films was looking for extras.

“I’ve never acted before,” he said. “But I’ve done a bit of photography and I thought it would be interesting to see what goes on in making a film.”

The film itself tells the story of a B-24 Liberator aircraft called Shady Lady which set off from Darwin on August 13 1943 on what was at the time the world’s longest bombing mission to the oil refineries of Balikpanan, Borneo. It crash landed after running out of fuel after an astonishing 16 and a half hour flight.

Film director Tristan Loraine, 49, said: “It shows the crew’s absolute heroism and bravery - the same qualities that many of our Forces still display today. There are some very brave people in the world.”

Filming has already taken place in America and in Australia, as well as Charlwood, and more is to take place in Florida in January.

Tristan is ensuring that all props used for the film are authentic war-time materials wherever possible, right down to the air crews’ dog tags.

A number of props to convert a shed at Gatwick Aviation Museum into an authentic war-time office were provided by Clare Davison, of historic Sedgwick Park House, Horsham.

Susan Michaelis, head of marketing for the film company, said: “She has been very generous with her time and support helping us as a local film company.”

Shady Lady is planned to be released in May - in time for the Cannes Film Festival.