Alex Clarke, Publishing Director at Penguin gives a behind-the-scenes view from the TRINITY trailer shoot.
Dawn – a deserted car park in Epping Forest, shrouded in mist.
No, not another gangland killing. This, in fact, was the starting point for our journey into the late fifteenth century and the shooting of the trailer for WARS OF THE ROSES: TRINITY. Publishing being publishing and not Hollywood, it was all hands on deck – and both author and publishing team were on standby to transform seamlessly into the Plantagenet cast of players.
The dog-walkers of Essex looked on in bemusement as we wriggled and strapped ourselves into medieval costume. I, for reasons unknown, had agreed to be Richard Duke of York for the shoot, and I’ll admit it now, I was ridiculously over excited get decked out in plate armour and furs. It’s a primeval sort of feeling, harking back to childhood role-playing, but with the sort of gear that any HBO drama would be proud to call its own.
Chris Morrissey, creative genius at One Darnley Road agency, was directing the shoot. Chris’s fiancé was a magnificent Queen Margaret of Anjou, and our colleagues Tim, John and Rob, from the marketing and digital teams nobly stepped into full battle dress to join in the fun. Luckily, Conn was on hand to add gravitas and an eye for historical authenticity to proceedings. He abandoned this role the very instant he got his hands on the props, and I soon found myself dodging blows as our author swung a ferocious-looking battle axe towards my head. This, he argued, was in the interest of invaluable research into the battle techniques of the time: How does his armour hinder the movement of a knight? How is visibility affected by the helm? How would the wooden shields hold up to the blow of a battle axe? And just how does a publisher fill in the insurance claim after clattering his author with a very heavy broadsword?
Thanks to Chris and his team’s patience and skill, and thanks to a hell of a lot of fake blood and some great costumes, the trailer hopefully gives you a feel of the drama and excitement to come in Conn’s superb second novel in the Wars of the Roses series: Trinity.
Needless to say, the day was huge fun, who wouldn’t love to run around the forest playing grown-up knights? But it was also fascinating to inhabit physically the world which Conn is writing about in this series. Conn captures so brilliantly the essence of that time: the sheer brutality of medieval warfare; the random click of the fingers that decides life or death; the difference between high-born and the foot-soldier. Discussing all this with Conn, as he tried to take my head off with yet another gruesome looking weapon, gave me a wonderful insight into the mind of a man who sees the nature of a story in the way that very few do, who sees the twists and turns of tiny detail that allow us the reader to paint the rich pictures of our imagination. This is the real talent of a great writer, and it was great fun seeing it in action, while he wasn’t trying to kill me.
Here are some behind the scenes pictures from the day.