Behind the scenes of the How I Live Now film with Meg Rosoff and Saoirse Ronan
Hope Kemp, winner of our How I Live Now competition, blogs about her prize – a day on the set of author Meg Rosoff’s new feature film How I Live Now (adapted from her spectacular book). From behind the scenes, find out what happened when Hope met the producers, Saoirse Ronan (who is playing Daisy), Harley Bird (voice of ‘Peppa Pig’ who plays Piper) and Academy Award winning director Kevin Macdonald (One Day In September, Marley, The Last King of Scotland) as well as Meg herself…
“I fell in love with it immediately” says Charles Steel, shortly followed by the admission “it had me in tears.” The “emotional power” is emphasized by Alasdair Flind and how “special” it is “because you believe it.” These are the words of two of the producers of Meg Rosoff’s new feature film ‘How I Live Now‘.
The whole day I was met by filmmakers on set of all ages, animatedly praising the love story, a testament to Meg’s writing. Even ten year old Harley Bird (who plays Piper, and is also the voice of Peppa Pig) said she “loved the book.” However, she did say she “didn’t understand some of it,” though later promised Meg she’d read it again in a “few years,” when she was old enough to “read better”.
After meeting the producers and publicists, Meg herself and her family, I was offered toast by the Carnegie award-winning author. This moment marked the beginning of a pretty surreal day. It also set the tone of how down-to-earth, approachable and easy going the crew and cast were. We were then lead into the centre of a beautiful green farm, where Meg and the producers gave interviews in a setting perfect for the rural scenes.
It was here I learnt all about the cast and their relationships: Alasdair Flind stated that the complex, damaged character of Daisy “needs someone who’s brilliant, and Saoirse’s brilliant.” Flind referred to Saoirse Ronan, the wonderful Oscar nominated eighteen year old actress, who is soon to play the title role in “Mary Queen of Scots.” He also commented that George Mackay, who plays Edmund “brings strength to the role” and Harley Bird is a “force of nature” with an “appetite for life.” Meg herself praised how “fantastic” the young actors are and how close they have become, “almost like a real family.”
Afterwards, we were led onto set to meet director Kevin Macdonald and see his vision of the novel come to life; he is described by the producers as “ a brilliant storyteller” and “visually fantastic.” Fascinated, we all gathered around him to watch him in his element and sense the upmost respect of the crew for him. He seemed to know exactly what he wanted out of every shot. At one point he even shouted “No! Don’t say stop! It’ll make people stop!” which we all thought summed up his energy for the project (and made us laugh).
Meanwhile, Harley Bird was bouncing off the walls and laughing all the way behind the scenes; she even recorded a personalised answer phone message for me as Peppa Pig. I think this shows how worthy she is of being the youngest ever BAFTA winner!
However, Saoirse Ronan is the undoubted star of “How I Live Now,”
bringing realism, vulnerability and vivaciousness to the central role. Off screen she is bright, bubbly and patriotically Irish, we even chatted about how amazing the Olympics were. “Ireland won a whole five medals!” she exclaimed, then gushed about Irish gold-medal winning Irish boxer Katie Taylor, “did you see her knock her in the end?! She smashed her!”
It’s safe to say that the pure dedication and energy which has been poured into the film could also be rated as gold. At one moment Meg herself welled up with tears, swept up in the flawless acting of the young cast. Even the sound man grabbed Meg to confess how determined he was to be part of the feature, after hearing it was heading for production. He admitted to “chasing” the producers and had “email-evidence” of his grovelling due to his love for the book. If that doesn’t show you the amount of passion that has gone into the film, I don’t know what will.
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