Narrator: Charles Dance
Directors: David Fairhead, Ant Palmer
Running Time: 99 minutes
Synopsis: They say she was beautiful. A dream. But for all her good looks, she was also a killer. SpitFire is an epic, sweeping tale of determination, vision and courage. It is the story of an aircraft that was forged in competition, shaped as the war clouds gathered, and refined in the white heat of combat – going on to become the most famous fighter plane ever made.
Credited with changing the course of world history, this is the story of the Spitfire – told in the words of the last-surviving combat veterans. With stunning aerial footage from the world's top aviation photographer, the film also contains rare, digitally re-mastered, archive footage from the tumultuous days of the 1940's when her power in the skies was unrivalled. Her place in history assured - Spitfire also explores how this extraordinary plane thrives today and how it has become an international icon.
SpitFire features interviews from veterans Allan Scott, Geoffrey Welham, Joan Fanshawe, Joy Lofthouse, Ken Wilkinson, Mary Ellis, Nigel Rose, Paul Farnes, Tom 'Ginger' Neil and Tony Pickering.
Release Date: November 15th, 2018
About The Spitfire
Her beginnings were as a race-winning seaplane in the 1920's. In an era of wood and canvas biplanes, designer RJ Mitchell created a 400mph metal monoplane.
Now racing against time, he created the new fighter as the Nazis rose to power in Germany.
Delivered to the Royal Air Force a year before war broke out, its moment of glory came in the summer of 1940 during the Battle of Britain. The young fighter pilots of the RAF fought a deadly aerial war with Hitler's Luftwaffe in the skies over Southern England. If they failed, Britain would fall.
But against all the odds, they won and paved the way for the eventual victory over the Nazis. As the war continued, the Spitfire would change and adapt, always remaining at the forefront of the fight.
And even today, the legend lives on.
Spitfire, like all the best ideas, started with a chat outside a pub almost four years ago. Ant Palmer and David Fairhead are friends and colleagues who had first worked together 20 years before. The question was simple "Do you think a feature documentary about the Spitfire would have an audience?" The answer was equally simple: "Yes."
But it had to be different – this was not going to be a film about rivets, it was to be a film about people. The aircraft was the vehicle to tell their stories.
So the first step was to get the veteran's interviews in the can. There was no budget, but without them there would be no film. So thanks to the generosity of the crews, who agreed to defer their fees, the task of researching and recording the interviews began.
Then a wider team was assembled. Producers Gareth Dodds and Steve Milne came onboard. And then, in the process of putting a 'taster trailer' together, a chance discovery led the team to John Dibbs, one of the world's top aviation photographers, who had just started to shoot moving images. A Brit who lives in the US, the team sent him the trailer, and he could see instantly that this film was going to be different. He was in, and he brought with him a wealth of contacts in the aviation world. He also bought the potential for filming real aircraft, and so any ideas of CGI Spitfires were dropped. It would all be for real.
Money came in from British Film Company, and the first big aerial shoot took place in September 2016 at Bicester and Dunkeswell – five Spitfires and a Hurricane.
A wider team still was assembled. Trevor Beattie, Keith Haviland, Patrick Mills and Mark Stewart came onboard as Executive Producers.
Editing started and the long job of piecing the story together was underway. Another aerial shoot in October 2017 took place, this time over the white cliffs at Beachy Head. It involved another five Spitfires flying out of the old Battle of Britain airfield, Biggin Hill.
Another important aspect was archive film and stills from the time. Film researcher James Barker trawled the card indexes of the Imperial War Museum, as well as British Pathe and British Movietone, to find material that was not just unfamiliar, but in many cases previously unseen. One can of film had lain on a shelf in the Cambridge University Library for decades before being transferred for the documentary.
Music was by Chris Roe, a young composer whom David had worked with twice before. His beautiful score, recorded at Angel Studios in London with the English Session Orchestra, helped to underline the emotion of the film. This, combined with the sound design and audio mix by Nick Adams, Tom Foster and George Foulgham at Molinare, created an opportunity for a truly immersive cinematic experience, balancing the awesome sound of the Merlin engines, the rattle of gunfire together with the reflections of the veterans and the score.
- David Fairhead and Ant Palmer
Release Date: November 15th, 2018