These days it seems that most movies and TV Shows about World War 2 focus on the Americans. We have even seen a British operation depicted as carried out by the Americans - U-571 - yes Hollywood, we're still bitter. That's not to say there haven't been some good ones; Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Hacksaw Ridge, these are all brilliant depictions of World War 2. But are we in danger of younger generations thinking the Americans single-handedly won the war? What happened to the good old days when movies were made about British actions? Or better yet, movies like The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far, which told the story from the point of view of all involved, including the local civilians. That said, could movies like Dunkirk and Darkest Hour be a sign that things are changing?
Recently we spoke with Lance Nielsen, the Director/Writer/Producer is currently working on a TV series that depicts the actions of British Airborne forces during the war. "Paratrooper" - which will tell the story of several operations including Biting, Husky, Tonga, Market-Garden and Varsity - is planned to have an 11-12 episode first series. It will tell these stories through the eyes of a single character, and not necessarily one that's British and/or military, simply one affected by the events. This will include both civilians and the Germans. One episode will even focus on Operation Mercury, the German invasion of Crete - the first operation in which German paratroops were used en masse. A possible twelfth episode will focus on the Polish Brigade at Arnhem.
Lance Nielsen has a keen interest in this period of history, "it was inevitable that eventually I would develop something set in this genre and true stories always interest me." "When you're watching something that you know really happened it's far more emotionally tangible." When asked why he picked the airborne he told me: "The role of the airborne forces has always interested me, ever since I saw their depiction in the films The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far." He's definitely setting the bar very high, but I don't think that's a bad thing. Nielsen is also working on a standalone movie called "Pegasus Bridge". It's about the British Glider troops that captured two road bridges over the River Orne in the early hours of 6th June 1944, and the German troops they fought against. "Pegasus requires a much higher level of funding and is a very different type of animal to Paratrooper." "Brexit caused it a lot of problems." Pegasus Bridge (the place) will appear in Paratrooper's pilot episode, but only briefly.
Nielsen and his team - Producer Tony Fadil, Production Manager Nicola Gregory, Social Media Manager Dave Sinclair and "long standing collaborator" Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, X-Men: First Class) - are currently working on the pilot episode. As you can see from these magnificent photos, things are looking good. Filming is to take place in England and Normandy. "Where possible I will always shoot in real locations." "The best way to make Normandy look like Normandy is really to film in Normandy." In fact, the series will be filmed in several European countries including: England, France, Holland, Greece and Norway. The pilot will tell the story of the focal character's life up to the events of D-Day. There are also plans in place to film part of the Arnhem episode - on location in Holland - alongside the pilot so the footage may be included in the trailer.
Currently there aren't any plans on how the series will be distributed. The focus is very much on producing the pilot, part of which will be crowd funded. The campaign is said to be going very well; "we've had fantastic support and encouragement from our core fan base and people are really getting behind it." But the more who support Paratrooper, the better chance it has of hitting our screens. "We really need people to share and tag their friends too. We need the people who want this show to happen to be our social media army." If you want to support the project, click here to visit the Paratrooper Indiegogo page.
You can also keep up to date with how things are going through the Paratrooper Facebook Page. Nielsen and his team provide regular Live video updates there.
It seems there might be hope for us Brits yet!
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