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PAGE 1: WHAT IS THE FIRST MUSKETEER? PAGE 2: SYNOPSIS PAGE 4: DIRECTOR’S NOTES PAGE 6: APPROACH PAGE 7/8: THE LOCATIONS PAGE 9: THE COSTUMES PAGE 11: THE FIGHTS PAGE 12/13: CAST BIOS PAGE 15: SOCIAL MEDIA INFO PAGE 16: CONTACT DETAILS, RUN TIME, KEY CREDITS PAGE 17- 23: INTERVIEWS PAGE 24: OFFICIAL ARTWORK !2
WHAT IS THE FIRST MUSKETEER? “NEVER FEAR Q UARREL S, BU T SEEK H AZARD OU S AD VEN TURES” - ALEXANDR E DUMAS
The first musketeer is a new, original series based on “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas. It’s a prequel story, set in 1619, six years before D’Artagnan arrives in Paris. Using a combination of Dumas’ writing and real historical events, it tells the tale of the young Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, exploring how they met, the trials and tribulations they endured, and how they grew to become the heroes we know and love.
Left to Right: Ryan Spong (Aramis), Edward Mitchell (Athos), Charles Barrett (Porthos)
Written and Directed by Harriet Sams, and starring some of Britain’s best up and coming acting talent, this 6 part mini-series was released on June 1st 2015, and has already won Best UK Web Series at the UK Web Fest, along with multiple nominations from international festivals.
SYNOPSIS AL L F O R ON E … Short: Based on the The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, The First Musketeer is a prequel story to the classic adventure. We follow the young Athos, Porthos, and Aramis in a brand new series, as they fight to save France and become the heroes we know and love. Long: France 1619. Religious tensions course through Europe’s veins and at the centre of it all King Louis XIII sits on an uneasy throne. And so we meet Athos, the first of our Musketeers, drinking his way across the countryside in an attempt to escape from his own dark past. Worn out from his destructive existence, he latches onto two veteran Guardsman of the city, Lazare and Ghislain, as he begins to piece back together some semblance of his former self. They in turn meet the second Musketeer, Porthos, but it is not long before their comfortable existence is shattered, as fate throws them into a mission to save France from the machinations of the banished Queen Mother. Sent on a journey to find Richelieu, the only man who can sway the actions of the vengeful Dowager Queen, they must protect him from his enemies, and escort him back to Paris before the old Queen can bring civil war down upon an already unstable France.
Athos - Edward Mitchell
Marion (Nicole O’Neill) and The Pilgrim (Sean Knopp) Clash
Behind the Scenes in Rocamadour
DIRECTOR’S NOTES H ARR I E T SA MS - W R IT ER /DI RE CT OR
The idea for creating a prequel story to such an iconic novel came about during a trip to France around 5 years ago. Surrounded by the untouched beauty of one of the Dordogne’s many historic villages it occurred to me that the country came with a ready made set for anyone hoping to shoot a period movie. The suggestion was made that a short film about the Musketeers would be particularly well suited to the area, but I couldn’t settle on the idea of adapting a story that had so often been done before, and with budgets I couldn’t hope to match. I had recently begun watching a number of web series, a medium which was, at that time, practically unheard of in mainstream culture, and I was struck by the way the audience connected so deeply with this minimal format. A platform where the viewers accepted a low budget as a given, and didn’t expect flashy effects or big studio set pieces. Where their only interest lay in the characters and the new worlds that had been created. But most importantly it was a platform where film makers could self-distribute, in the hopes of getting their work seen through this connection with online audiences. Considering the options this new medium presented I began to develop the idea of creating a mini-series, with the purpose of elaborating on the backstory of the Musketeers, using the online format to give snippets of the lives of these beloved characters, taking every mention of their past offered by Dumas and combining it with real historical events to create a new story. And so what began as an idea to tell a big story in short form began to escalate into a mini-epic. I’m still to this day not entirely sure how we managed what we did with so little money and even less time, but the result is a labour of love, and a pilot for a much larger world, whose story has yet to be told. 4
Charlotte (Mariya Mizuno) and The Pilgrim (Sean Knopp)
Marion (Nicole Oâ€™Neill)
Porthos (Charles Barrett)
Milady (Jessica Preddy) and Athos (Edward Mitchell)
APPROACH Shot over 3 weeks in September 2013, on location throughout some of France’s most stunning, historic regions, the cast and crew overcame both budgetary and time constraints to achieve the series’ truly ambitious scale. Due to the decision to shoot mainly at night sleep was scarce but the effect was to create a dark and mysterious world, a reflection of the inner turmoil our characters face throughout their journeys. With the knowledge that pick-ups weren’t an option, and averaging only around 3 takes per shot, we were under pressure to make as few mistakes as possible, and crossed our fingers that the weather would cooperate with us during our many outdoor scenes. We had a skeleton crew, made up entirely of volunteer professionals who agreed to leave their homes in the UK for a chance to experience a true film making adventure. Neil Oseman, our Director of Photography, was not only DOP, but also Camera Operator, Gaffer, Grip, Best Boy, Rigger, the list goes on, just one example of the workload put upon each of the First Musketeer team members. However, when asked if they would do it all again, the answer is always, “Without a second thought.”
The Medieval City of Rocamadour
The Chateau de Losse
The Chateau de Bonaguil
Based in the Lot region, the ancient city of Rocamadour receives more than 1 million visitors each year. Supposedly named after a hermit named St Amadour this place made famous for its miracles and pilgrims dominates the valley from its cliﬀside viewpoint. Built into the cliﬀ the medieval city winds up 216 steps, before reaching the stunning sanctuary, home to multiple chapels, untouched by the modern age. No matter which angle we filmed from the stunning architecture looked like a ready made set, and you could feel the actors escape into the past just by absorbing the surrounding atmosphere. It wasn’t without its diﬃculties though, with access points for equipment being extremely limited, resulting in many long and diﬃcult treks up and down tiny, crumbling roads before we could begin filming. Oﬃcial Site: http://www.visit-dordogne-valley.co.uk/ rocamadour/history
The Chateau de Losse is a bit of a hidden gem. A Renaissance Manor built in 1567, alongside one of the Dordogne’s picturesque rivers. In our series it plays the part of Richelieu’s private estate. Not only did we choose it for its aesthetic benefits, having been beautifully restored to its original decor, but also for practical reasons, as it was large enough to provide the space needed for a film crew to work. However, as it turned out, it also harboured a historical reason for us to shoot there. We discovered, after speaking with it’s owner, that the real Cardinal Richelieu once stayed at the Chateau, with some damaging consequences to the architecture, during one of the many conflicts of the time. It is beautiful both inside and out, being famous for its historic gardens that are worth the visit alone.
Situated in the Lot-et-Garonne region of France, this intimidating castle was used for multiple locations throughout shooting. Its inner walkways served as our ancient Parisian streets, and it’s spacious interiors were used for both guardhouses and the private rooms of the Duke de Luynes. This Chateau became our second home during our time in France, and although the majority of our shoots were at night, we spent some hours entertaining the visiting tourists with sword fights during our rare daytime scenes. We all enjoyed our time at the peaceful Bonaguil, apart from our make-up team, who quickly became less fond of the place after hearing some of the ghost stories the chateau is famous for.
Oﬃcial Site: http://www.chateaudelosse.com/en
Oﬃcial Site: http://www.chateau-bonaguil.com/en
THE COSTUMES JE SS I C A O Z L O - C O S TUM E DESIG NER It was apparent from the show’s conception that we wouldn’t be able to make a good “costume drama” without good costumes, but what do you do when the budget is tight and the Director wants custom made costumes for all the leads? Well, as it turns out, you smile, nod, and get very friendly with your local fabric warehouse. The two main gowns featured in the series contained nearly 40 metres of fabric each. For comparison Princess Diana’s wedding dress contained only around 25. In a cast dominated by men we knew the gowns would have to be outstanding in order to represent against the dashing doublets of the Musketeers. Adamant that a mix of historical accuracy and stylish fantasy could be achieved the design process began early and required a lot of research. It began almost a year before the shoot itself and hundreds of hours were put into creating costumes for all the leads. In the end a huge costume team formed, built from talented individuals, each specialising in their own area. We had embroiderers, leather workers, tailors, all working around other projects to try and finish in time for the shoot. Even with months to plan the schedule was so tight, due to the sheer number of costumes to make, that one of the costumes had to be flown in separately once we had already started filming, in order to finish oﬀ the delicate beadwork on the doublet’s arms.
The First Musketeer Costume Workshop
The infamous red dress worn by Nicole Oâ€™Neill as Marion de Lorme.
RO N I N TR AI N ER - SW OR DM A ST ER Ronin Traynor was brought in for the almighty task of choreographing all the fights for this series. As the Director of ID fight team he managed to pull together a group of experienced stunt fighters to face oﬀ against our Musketeers, as well as spending weeks getting our actors up to scratch in order for them to look convincing onscreen. Some had it easier than others, Charles Barrett for example, who isn’t only a stunt rider for film and TV but also a championship fencer. Toby Lord who plays the Duke de Luynes had the hardest task, having to face 5 fighters at once in one of our most ambitious fight scenes of the series.
The Pilgrim (Sean Knopp) and Athos (Edward Mitchell) fighting it out
The Pilgrim (Sean Knopp) prepares for battle
CAST BIOS Consisting of some of Britain’s up and coming young actors, the cast of The First Musketeer were found from across the UK during auditions almost 3 years ago. Strangers to one another to begin with, throughout months of training and rehearsals, as well as regular social gatherings, the team have bonded in a way you can only hope when embarking on this kind of adventure. A number of the cast were not only chosen for their acting talents but also for some special skills they held, for example, Charles Barrett who plays Porthos is not only a champion fencer but has also shown off his equestrian skills for numerous Blockbusters and TV shows, like Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”, BBC’s “Merlin”, and most recently Guy Richie’s new “Knights of the Round Table”.
Edward Mitchell (Athos) is an award-winning actor and graduate of East 15 Acting School. He was the recipient of the Spotlight Prize for Best Actor upon his graduation and has since gone on to work in various media, most recently returning to the stage with the UK premiere of “Unearthed” by Royal Court Young Writer Alys Metcalf. FILM: Pirates of the Caribbean (IV): On Stranger Tides, The Illustrious Client (Shanghai International Film Festival) The Curse of the Phoenix, Fratton, Sc.25, The Mayfly, Cloud Watcher, Death by Misadventure. THEATRE: Unearthed (Arcola / National Tour), The Bastard Children of Remington Steele/The Secret Wives of Andy Williams (Underbelly), Trojan Women (Brockly Jack Studio Theatre), Granuaile (Tristan Bates Theatre), Bent (Landor Theatre), The Jungle Book (Queen's Theatre Hornchurch), Skyclad (Off Cut Festival), Riot Night (Site-Specific for RSH & Livelyhood), News Revue (Canal Cafe Theatre)
Nicole O’Neill (Marion de Lorme/The Red Lady) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where from a young age she took great interest in the arts, and trained in dancing, acting and singing. Spotted in a school play aged 9 she was cast in her first feature film “My life so far” alongside Colin Firth. The same year, she won a place at the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London. After graduating with honours she has gone on to work in various fields from dancing with the Royal Ballet, being a full body and stunt double for oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique XMEN- First class) to most recently wrapping production, as a new leading character in Sky Atlantic’s gothic horror series “Penny Dreadful- season 2” , starring alongside Eva Green, and Josh Hartnett. FILM: Following footsteps, Queen of diamonds, The Milky way, Headspinner, Keep the fire, Beauty and The Beast (2016) TV: Penny Dreadful Season 2, The Royals, The Hunt THEATRE: Anatol (20th Century theatre), Royal Ballet, English National Ballet MUSIC VIDEO: John Newman (Cheating), Jakwob (Fade), Lawson (Standing in the dark), Labrinth (Treatment), Miles Kane (Give up)
Sean Knopp (The Pilgrim) trained at the prestigious Drama Centre London and has since gone on to do many TV and film jobs working with directors such as Sam Mendes and Henry Alex Rubin. Sean has played the lead role of "Young Joshua" in Mark Burnett's "The Bible". Having aired in the USA in March 2013, it has since smashed all viewing records and become the most successful TV mini series of all-time and also the fastest selling DVD series box set ever. Sean has also appeared in the BBC's "Dr Who" playing the character of Paul. Playing the lead in the multi award winning British feature film "The Sky in Bloom", Sean won the "Best Actor" award at Newport International film festival and the film won "Best Picture”. It is due for release in Summer 2015. Recently he starred in 24: Live Another Day playing opposite Kiefer Sutherland.
Jessica Preddy (Milady De Winter) was raised in London and holds dual citizenship for the USA and UK. She completed her acting training at New York University. Her THEATRE work includes Natural Affection (UK premiere: Jermyn Street Theatre), Nude with Violin (UK premiere: Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Peer Gynt (National Theatre of Oslo), The Maids (NYU), Tis Pity She’s a Whore (NYU), and Troilus & Cressida (RADA). FILM credits include Kill & Run, The World, and Etiquette.
Horseplay with Porthos
Ghislain and Athos in Rocamadour
The Musketeersâ€™ local Tavern
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Release Date: June 1st 2015 (YouTube)
Episode Info: 6 x Episodes
Total Duration: 1 hour 8 minutes
Athos - Edward Mitchell
Writer/Director - Harriet Sams
Porthos - Charles Barrett
Lazare - Tony Sams
Editor - David Fisher
Ghislain - Paul McMaster
The Pilgrim - Sean Knopp
Director of Photography - Neil Oseman
Marion - Nicole Oâ€™Neill
Richelieu - Alan J Mirren
Sound Recordist - David Bekkevold
Aramis - Ryan Spong
Anne/Milady - Jessica Preddy
Costume Design - Jessica Ozlo
Charlotte - Mariya Mizuno
Celimene - Shinead Byrne
Set Design - Amy Nicholson
Francois - Francis Woolf
Swordmaster - Ronin Traynor
Interview - Harriet (Writer/Director/Producer) Q: Why did you choose The Musketeers for you subject matter? A: I’ve always loved period movies, along with action/adventure it’s my favourite genre, and The Three Musketeers have it all. Although I would say that the subject matter almost chose me. I was in France with family and my dad commented on the fact that half of the villages look like ready made sets, and that I could make a great Musketeer short film using the locations, and so it kind of evolved from there. It was never really planned to become as big as it did but I tend to have diﬃculty holding back when an good idea presents itself.
Q: What previous experience did you have before filming The First Musketeer? A: I left college to go straight into a Producing internship, and began to get jobs in various diﬀerent facilities in various roles, and on larger productions as a runner, as well as working on low budget productions, which I think is as valuable an experience as working on big blockbusters, but I just always wanted to Direct. If you don’t count the stop-motion movies I made as a kid my first short film came about when I was 16, and I continued making shorts until about a year before I came up with the Musketeer idea. I took a detour into live action performance with a stunt riding team I knew and wrote/directed a show for them. It was a bit of an odd medium to be involved in but it really refreshed my creative impulses and lead to the development of The First Musketeer. Even though it’s designed to be split into 6 episodes this is my first feature length production, and it taught me a huge amount.
Q: What was it like working on a budget of £25K? A: Tricky. There really isn’t very much financial support in the UK for films with budgets under £20 million, and when I started there was none at all for online content, so I knew straight away that I should plan on making it on next to nothing, but that’s why I chose web series as a medium, because before the age of House of Cards and high end streaming shows low budgets were a given. Everyone involved in the project came on as a volunteer, all fully aware that the likelihood of gaining any direct financial benefit from this series was unlikely, but the subject matter really seemed to connect with people. Also the opportunity to have an expenses paid trip to France to work in castles helped. One of things I’ve learned whilst working on this film is the huge generosity of others. So many people were willing to believe in the series and donate their time and expertise, based only on faith and the willingness to go on an adventure. It really blew me away.
Also, I had a lot of experience with keeping budgets tight from previous HOD roles on low budget films, so I knew already that I could keep spending very low.
However, it made us all experts at relying on our wits. We couldn’t aﬀord to go back for any pick-ups and didn’t have time to linger on any of the shots, and one evening we were filming in a castle that had let us use their mains power, and we managed to short the power to the entire building, unfortunately it was in the middle of the night so by the time we could get someone to help us find the trip switch we had lost hours of valuable time for shooting. Things like that always meant reducing the number of angles, usually meant shortening the scene, and occasionally meant cutting it entirely, so we always needed to make sure whatever happened we could cover enough to get a finished episode.
Q: You had to take on more responsibilities than just Writing and Directing on this, what was that like? A: It was inevitable really. There’s no such thing as wearing one hat on a low budget production, and I’m certainly not the first to have to multi-task. I think in the end as well as Producing I was also the concept artist, production designer, props buyer, casting director, line producer, location scout, transport captain, accountant, production co-ordinator, unit manager, location manager, facilities, script supervisor, marketing and PR, I can’t even think what else. It was great from the perspective that I feel like I really get how a production comes together a lot more now, also mis-communication between departments wasn’t an issue because I was most of the departments! But there is a reason why there are so many people doing so many diﬀerent jobs on a normal set, it really is necessary to keep things running smoothly. When you’re trying to set up for a scene and work out the framing of your next shot with the DOP and suddenly find out the toilet facilities have been locked and have to go oﬀ and deal with that it doesn’t make bringing your creative vision to life any easier. I would like to add however that every member of the crew also wore multiple hats, there was just a lot hat wearing in general on this show.
Q: What was it like working with the cast to bring your character’s to life? A: Casting has always been one of my favourite parts of the process, working with actors is one of the main joys of being a Director, and I love that moment when you see the person you pictured on the page come to life before your eyes. It was the cherry on top of the cake when we started to get to know one another and it turned out that everyone was lovely. Although I like to think it came down to my character judging ability in the casting process, it was really pure luck that we ended up with such a generous and hard working team.
Q: Why did you choose to film in France? A: I’ve travelled to France every year since I was 4 and so I knew the country really well. I love it there which is always a good reason to work somewhere but most importantly it had exactly the right look. I’ve mentioned before that the castles made the perfect backdrops to our scenes but more than that, the French are just great supporters of the arts and creative individuals in general. We didn’t encounter any red tape or bureaucracy in trying to shoot there and it just felt like a really welcoming place to get something made.
Q: What was it like shooting entirely on location? A: Tiring, but inspiring. The travel between locations was inconvenient but you can’t beat filming somewhere with solid, real walls. As amazing as most film sets are, in the end it’s scaﬀolding and plaster, and can’t match up to real, heavy, ancient, stone. Q: Are there any funny stories you will take you with from your time shooting in France? A: I think a lot of the things that went wrong which were horrible at the time are funny in hindsight. Like the evening we were setting up in this publicly accessible courtyard for a huge fight scene, and suddenly this huge wedding party turns up and starts to crack out the drinks and have their pictures taken. Because the location belonged to the local town hall and it was a common place for people to pose for wedding shots we couldn’t really ask them to leave, especially on such an important day for them, and so we just had to sit around waiting for them to leave. Q: Where do you hope to see the series going from here? A: It seems there are really three main options based on the web content landscape as it stands. The top of the ladder is a major production company discovering the show and buying it up to develop as one of their own projects. That means big budgets which is always exciting, but also less likely. One can always dream though. The next is for one of the smaller streaming platforms to do something similar, put a larger budget than we had for season one into either redeveloping the first season or continuing on to season 2. And last would be to develop season two using private investments, which would most likely result in having a lower budget than is ideal, but would at least allow us to continue making the show. In all honesty any of the above would be a dream come true but if none of that comes to pass I’ll be more than happy if people just watch the show and find a connection with it. If someone makes it into a GIF on Tumblr I’ll consider it a success.
Interview - Edward Mitchell (Athos) Q: Who is Athos? A: Athos is one of the Three Musketeers and their defacto leader. However, in The First Musketeer we meet him at a time before the events of the books, so at this stage he is a broken young man on the run from a dark and tragic past.
Q: Your Athos is a much younger version than we’re used to seeing, what was it like to translate your own version of a well known character onto screen? A: Having the opportunity to play such an iconic literary character was an absolute privilege, but I think it goes without saying that there was a significant amount of pressure. There is so much love and adoration for the character of Athos and so many fantastic actors have portrayed him through the years that I felt a duty to honour that. However, the fact that I was portraying Athos in a time that has not previously been explored in depth eased some of the burden as it gave me more creative freedom and took the reins oﬀ with how far I felt I could step away from previous incarnations.
Q: What is it like to play one of the “good guys”? A: ‘Good guys’ is such a relative term that I’m not quite sure I can give a completely straightforward answer, particularly when it comes to discussing a character like Athos who I would argue has a particularly ambiguous moral compass. I think it would be easier to say that for Athos, he always does what he thinks is best in any particular circumstance, but the ends always justify the means. Does that make someone good? I think that’s a matter of perspective. Either way it was a lot of fun.
Q: Athos is a bit of a tortured character, was this a challenge to portray? A: It was challenging, yes, because there is so much going on under the surface that you’re not always able to show or that is not appropriate within a scene, but which absolutely informs the choices you’re making as an actor. It’s about finding the right balance and the right reaction in that moment without overplaying it and patronising the audience.
Q: The First Musketeer is a prequel to “The Three Musketeers”. Was it more or less of a challenge to play a character when you already know what happens in his future? A: In The Three Musketeers there is a lot of detail about Athos’ past, particularly some crucial events which relate directly to our story and Athos’ ‘origins’. There is also a fair amount of information about various character traits. This meant that I always had a reference point if there was ever any diﬃculty working out his intentions.
Q: What was it like to play a historical character rather than someone from the modern day? A: It was incredible, an absolute dream come true! There is so much romance and emotion tied up in historical pieces and especially that period in French history, that as an actor it was a real gift. To have so much evocative language and imagery meant that our job was made a lot easier.
Q: The stunning costumes were all custom made for the actors. What was it like to step into your own costume? A: I feel like a stuck record…but it really was fantastic! Jessica Ozlo’s costume design was beautiful, ornate and expertly crafted by her and her team. It was eye-opening to see just how much research and dedication is poured into that creative process. Jessica also spent a lot of time working with our director Harriet to make sure that the costumes really pulled on each character’s traits and reflected Harriet’s vision. Costume always plays a vital part in establishing an authentic landscape for a series and we couldn’t have asked for it to have turned out any better.
Q: What was your favourite part about playing an iconic Musketeer? A: It’s hard to pull out any one thing as my favourite, but I’d say that learning to horse ride and work with the horses was definitely near the top of the list. Tony Sams who plays Lazare (and is an expert horseman) managed to get me from absolute beginner to being a very competent rider within a few short months. Hans Vroom from Centre Equestre Du Passe-Temps was our horse master on set and was ably assisted by Evianne van Dam - both of whom really took their time in bolstering my confidence and passing on a few tricks of the trade. Not only that but they were also kind enough to provide our horses whilst we were on location.
Q: What was it like to shoot entirely on location, surrounded by castles? A: There was absolutely no better set-up that we could have had the locations were out of this world and made the job of mentally transporting yourself back to that period a million times easier. There were very few leaps of imagination in that regard because we were actually there!
Q: What was it like to film in the South of France? A: I’ve always loved France and have spent a fair few holidays all over the country, but getting to drive to set every day through the gorgeous countryside was awesome. The local people were so supportive and inquisitive about what we were up to and they took a real pride in this most famous of French stories being realised in their own country. There have been hardly any Musketeer films actually made in France, and so it felt right to be making a French story in it’s country of origin.
Q: What challenges did you encounter working on a series with such a restricted budget? A: Time constraints. I’d say that was by far and away the most immediate thing - money buys you time. The more time you have to do things the longer you can spend on really ensuring that everything is perfect, and if it’s not right the first time then you have the luxury of being able to do it again and again until you get it right. We didn’t have that option - our whole ethos was about getting it right the first time and so a lot of the focus became about preparation and being best placed to nail everything straight oﬀ the bat.
Q: Are there any funny stories you will take you with from your time shooting in France? A: Before we left for France the production team stocked up on some basic food items such as ‘Nature Valley’ bars. We had boxes of these things in various diﬀerent flavours. We were filming in some pretty remote paces so if you were hungry and you were a couple of hours away from dinner then you had no alternative but a Nature Valley bar. If people found a chocolate flavoured one they would stash it away like a prison inmate to crack out after lights-out and enjoy in the dark where they knew no-one else would descend on them like a pack of rabid wolves. Since then we’re forever sending each other pictures of them when they appear in our lives. Having said all that, we wouldn’t have gotten through that shoot without them, they really were a life saver.
Q: There is a lot of chemistry on screen between you and Nicole O’Neill, who plays Marion. Presumably you got on well in real life? A: We definitely do - Nicole is an absolute legend and one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met. She is hilarious and mucks in with everybody else without complaint. She works hard, she doesn’t take herself seriously, and every take she oﬀers something new for you to react to. In one particular scene I have to handle her quite roughly and throw her up against a wall. I was trying to do it without hurting her, but she had had enough of my walking on egg-shells so quickly and decisively explained to me that I should just ‘do it’. She’s a tough cookie and also a trained ballet-dancer so has been through way more discomfort than that.
Q: Where do you see the series going from here? A: Ideally, it would be nice to team up with a larger production company to facilitate the growth of the series in terms of scale and story. I know that Harriet, who writes the show as well as directs it, has a very clear story arc for at least another 4 series and there is plenty of mileage. This period in French history is full of such intrigue and drama, there is just so much on oﬀer for expanding the show.
Interview - Charles Barrett (Porthos) Q: Who is Porthos? A: Porthos is one of the ‘Inseparables’ from The Three Musketeers series. He is bold, brash, arrogant and self-assured. He’s a character who we should dislike, but he’s also generous, fun, ridiculous and loyal. He is famous for his appetite, not only culinary, but for the boldest fashions he can assemble. Porthos is the personification of the voice in your head that says ‘Go on… do it…’
Q: Your Porthos is a much younger version than we’re used to seeing, what was it like to translate your own version of a well-known character onto screen? A: I know the character of Porthos so well that it was strange to approach the role at first. In terms of playing a part that so many people already have a version of in their heads, either from books or on screen, it’s tough. I also had my own preconceptions to get over. In short, it was an absolute honour, but to have put him on a pedestal when shooting would have made the role impossible.
Q: What is it like to play one of the “good guys”? A: Stabbing people up for the greater-good always has to be a tricky one to get your head around. To an extent, all of the characters are balancing on a tight-rope between chaos and salvation (particularly Athos). Porthos is constant in his loyalty, and that was great fun to play. Sometimes we would get to the end of a scene and I would think – I bloody love this guy!
Q: Porthos supplies much of the comic relief for the series, was the comedy fun to play? A: Absolutely. I’m a massive show oﬀ so being a clown when the moment required it all came quite naturally. It’s a pretty serious storyline, but it all became a playground whenever Porthos was around. To be able to let loose on camera once in a while was superb.
Q: The First Musketeer is a prequel to “The Three Musketeers”. Was it more or less of challenge to play a character when you already know what happens in his future? A: It certainly adds complications. It could potentially be restrictive. One thing Harriet did to help prevent us getting bogged down in our own futures was to give each of us secrets very early on in the rehearsal process. Some of us were allowed to share our secrets with specific other cast members, but mine was not to be told to anyone – that included outside of the cast. I made a prop to go with the secret and carried it with me for the entire filming process (and for about six months either side).
Q: What was it like to play a historical character rather than someone from the modern day? A: People often say I was born in the wrong century. This period suited me perfectly. The swashbuckling, the horses, the sense of valour all came together to make this entire project ludicrously inspirational.
Q: How diﬃcult was it for you to learn all of the complicated sword fights? A: I’m actually a qualified epee coach (that’s the kind of fencing sword closest to the rapier that the Musketeers used). I was president of my fencing team back at university. We also had training camps for us all to learn together under the skilled blade of Ronin Traynor; our swordmaster. Fights and action on screen should always tell a story, and add to character and with such a large character to portray I had my work cut out for me.
Q: Did you have to learn to ride for the series? A: No, in fact Harriet first met me as a rider, doubling for an actor in a film. I’ve worked with horses throughout my life, in fact, my family has been working with horses since the time of Alexandre Dumas, so it’s in my blood. I now ride regularly for film and TV, as well as performing in live shows. I trick ride, which is a form of mounted gymnastics, and joust, and do all sorts of shows across the world, so the riding aspect was never a worry.
Q: The stunning costumes were all custom made for the actors. What was it like to step into your own costume? A: Jessica Ozlo absolutely distilled Porthos into the design of my costume, and it was beautiful to wear. I can only apologise to her for the number of times I split the crotch… what can I say? I love to lunge. I was so happy in that costume, I just can’t tell you.
Q: What was your favourite part about playing an iconic Musketeer? A: My favourite thing about it was the thought of my boyhood self looking at what I was doing and saying ‘That’s awesome, future me.’ Looking back, one moment I remember vividly was a night shoot involving a huge fight scene. The cast and crew worked so hard, and for so long to get everything we needed, and when wrap was called, the relief and exhaustion we shared really knitted everyone together. I don’t know about being the iconic Musketeer, but at that moment we were all part of The First Musketeer, and we were as close a group as any I’ve known.
Q: What was it like to shoot entirely on location, surrounded by castles? A: The locations gave everything a sense of reality that you just can’t truly match with a sound stage, no matter how real everything looks to the camera, the diﬀerence to the cast came with every click of a heel on 600 year old flagstones. It was immersive and wonderful to experience. It also gave us a chance to nose around some truly spectacular locations when we weren’t filming. The splendour of Rocamadour (which became our Parisian streets) has to be experienced to be believed. It did come with the downside of having to work around opening times and tourists, however. It’s not easy to shoot a scene when people wonder into shot to take a picture of you, but at the same time, it’s those tourists paying to get in and buying souvenirs that keep these places alive for future generations – Go Tourism!!!
Q: What was it like to film in the South of France? A: Well the wine was cheap, which was good for… research…We stayed in a little place called Puy l’Eveque. It was beautiful. I believe that it was the locations that began the sparks of creation in Harriet’s mind, they were made for Musketeers.
Q: What challenges did you encounter working on a series with such a restricted budget? A: Being broke… It meant that we had to rely on people’s good nature for anything to get done and sometimes that good nature ran out. It meant that we slept on mattresses in an attic… It meant that we had the best flipping team work you have ever seen to organise things and make this mental idea into a reality. There was some seriously hard graft from every individual involved, for some, that hard graft never ended for the duration and it was in their sweat and stiﬀ backs, in their sleep-blurred eyes and blistered fingers that this series was made. Money can’t buy that.
Q: Are there any funny stories you will take you with from your time shooting in France? A: Every day I was reduced to tears with laughter, but it might have been due to sleep deprivation. I did hide under the sheets during a scene with Alan (Richelieu), and they shot a whole scene without realising I was there. You can see the outline of my derriere under the covers in the finished scene!
Q: Where do you see the series going from here? A: Obviously there is high-profile competition for this series, so I honestly don’t know. My hope is that we’ll go on to film a second season. There were some characters hinted at in Season 1 who I really want to see come to the fore. I would fight hard to get back to anything like the experience we had before. To reanimate Porthos would be a dream come true.
Interview - Tony Sams (Lazare) Q: Who is Lazare? A: Lazare is a professional soldier, dedicated to the security of France. He is an experienced and well respected warrior, ex personal guard to the old King (now dead) and bored with his current peacetime role which, for the most part, involves him in checking passports at the Paris gates and drinking in his favourite taverns (notably The Pomme de Pin) with his long term friend and brother in arms, Ghislain.
Q: Lazare is a new character within “The Three Musketeers” universe. What was it like to play a new role amongst already famous characters? A: Playing Lazare was very much a joy as there were no precedents in literature so we could build on the brief backstory. As long as he didn’t upset what was already known about the three Musketeers, it was possible to play with the character.
Q: What is it like to play one of the “good guys”? A: Lazare may have been one of the “good guys”, but he was by no means a “goody, goody”. He has a complex and as yet unrevealed background. His conscience is not as clean as it may seem.
Q: Lazare is a bit of a reluctant leader, was this a challenge to portray? A: Lazare is a reluctant leader because he is driven by duty, loyalty and friendship. It was a challenge to play in so far as this often puts him at odds with his own feelings. His deeply held beliefs about King and Country sometimes have to be compromised.
Q: How diﬃcult was it for you to learn all of the complicated sword fights? A: My background in stage combat had mostly been in the medieval period which meant lots of heavy, almost unwieldy weapons such as broad swords, axes maces etc. It was something of a culture shock, therefore, to have to learn to develop the finesse required in the use of rapiers. That wasn’t easy. Luckily for Lazare, the prime goal for him was less about looking good with a sword in your hand and more about survival and winning so it was possible to bring to Lazare the reality of picking up any useful item that came to hand. And if all else fails, use your fists! One scene was particularly pleasing when Ghislain and Lazare have to take on three Huguenots. It required a diﬃcult sword trick that we managed to nail on the first take. Of course we did it several more times just to ensure we had it, but it was pretty satisfying.
Q: What was your favourite part about playing an iconic Musketeer? A: Living the dream! How many people, men and women of all ages wouldn’t like the opportunity to dress up and play the part of a swashbuckling hero? We got to do that and in the most evocative surroundings.
Q: What was it like to shoot entirely on location, surrounded by castles? A: We got to work in some of the most authentic and beautiful chateaux in France. It was fascinating to learn from the people that run them that some of the history had real life connections with the story and characters we were portraying. For example, some of Henry of Navarre’s personal guard (characterised by Ghislain and Lazare) were actually billeted at one of the chateaux we used and the real life Richelieu visited the very chateau that we chose to use as his home in Avignon.
Q: What was it like to film in the South of France? A: Filming in The South of France was an absolute joy. Every other village is a film set and with a little set dressing to cover modern cables and signage, it was possible to be transported back to the early 17th century with absolute certainty that history had been made in the very places we were filming. But most importantly was the help, support, and encouragement we had from the local people and authorities, who were behind the project all the way. They were more than willing to put themselves out to help make the project a success and we even managed to include some of them in the film itself.
Q: What challenges did you encounter working on a series with such a restricted budget? A: Working within a restricted budget is always a challenge, but in this case it wasn’t about the practical limitations. Props, costumes and equipment were all covered with support from various individuals and organisations and there was a very full cast and crew all willing and keen. The major challenge for me was the time limitation. Because of the budget we had to work some long and very late hours which was tiring. However, the results show how worthwhile it all was.
Q: Are there any funny stories you will take you with from your time shooting in France? A: We were at a location in a small French hamlet one day and the filming was taking place inside a building by a crossroads in the centre of the village There were a number of lights set up and various equipment around the house. Paul McMaster (Ghislain) and I were relaxing in the sunshine outside the building, in full costume complete with swords, when 4 cyclists turned up and stopped for a rest. After taking some refreshment they came over to us and asked what we were doing. We explained in our best French that we were making a film and they wanted to know what it was about. Again we explained and they seemed to understand, and be very interested. Then one of them pulled out a camera and asked if it was OK to take a photo. With our egos lifted, Paul and I stood together in a Musketeer pose at which point the cyclist handed me the camera and said, “No, we would like you to take our photo”. Egos deflated we obliged and managed not to burst out laughing until after they had left.
Q: How well did the Musketeers get on behind the scenes? A: The entire cast and crew got on very well behind the scenes and we managed to have many laughs in between shots and back at the base. We were all very excited about what had been achieved at the end of the shoot and the buzz was about the quality of the rushes and what might be the next development. Many of us have remained friends and meet often and are following each others career developments with interest.
Q: Where do you hope to see the series going from here? A: I hope that people like this first series and want to see more. I believe there are already story lines developed for 4 more series following the exploits of the same characters, including the formation of the new King’s Guard and the evolution of The Musketeers up to the point at which D’Artagnan Arrives in Paris. Watch this space as they say.
Interview - Nicole O’Neill (Marion de Lorme) Q: Who is Marion de Lorme? A: Good question.. it’s a mystery, she is a mystery and that is the way she, and I both like’s it! Oﬃcially, she is a new character from the brilliant mind of our Director/Writer Harriet Sams. However, Marion de Lorme does have some historical rooting as a 16th century French courtier, known for her relationships with important men! This is not so unlike our Marion. Although, I believe she has always aimed for the high life- She is a Lady of Louis XIII court after all! Not to say she hasn't worked hard for her place, nor graced the bedside of many a noble man on her journey. She does have a great understanding of her feminine charms, but it’s her perceptive, calculating mind that is really her most dangerous weapon!
Q: Marion is a new character within “The Three Musketeers” universe, what was it like to play a new role among already famous characters? A: I really enjoyed the fact that I could take such an artistic licence with Marion. Sometime I believe audiences and actors can get a bit stuck on the stereotypes of famous characters, I didn't really have to worry about any of that! However, I did initially approach building Marion in the same light as the infamous Milady de Winter. Social climber, backstabbing seductress who is definitely “all for one”, not “one for all!”. Although I wanted Marion to have a few cracks in her stone cold persona, show the hardship of what her role in life entails during this time period. A woman trying to play men at their own game. Also, in our series Marion is essentially paving the way for a young and hungry Milady coming up the ranks! She would have had to have inspiration from somewhere after all!
Q: Do “bad guys” really have more fun? A: Ummm YESSS!!!! Who doesn't want to be the bad guy? There is really something so satisfying about playing an evil character. Well, at least in my eyes! There is always such depth, mystery and of course great scope for finding the millions of reasons to why they are bad in the first place, what made them be so bitter, are they really bad at the core of things? Maybe life has just been a little too tough.
Q: What was it like to play a historical character rather than someone from the modern day? A: I have always felt that I was born in the wrong generation. So being given the opportunity to be taken back a few centuries makes me a very happy actor. Not to mention the amazing costumes, its like playing “Dress up” everyday on set!
I loved exploring how diﬀerent that century was to modern day, particularly for women!
Q: What was it like to be surrounded by such a large male cast? A: The testosterone was bouncing oﬀ the walls, I couldn’t cope! No, I’m kidding, it was great! If I’m honest I'm not really a girly girl myself, so “Being one of the lads” suited me just fine. Also having Jessica who plays Milady, and Harriet and the other female members of the crew there, we still had plenty of opportunities to balance out the male influences.
Q: The stunning costumes were all custom made for the actors. What was it like to step into your own costume? A: I loved my dress! It was seriously beautiful and made me feel fantastic! It also was very helpful for making me immediately fall straight into character when I had it on. I was made to feel very aware of my posture, and understanding the advantages of what that elegance could do to help Marion’s cause. How a lady could use their assets to best eﬀect.
Q: Your red gown had nearly 40 metres of fabric in it? It must have been heavy? A: It was heavy but in a useful way. I really enjoyed that feeling of being weighted down, it added a grace to my movements. More so, it helped me understand how a woman such as Marion, would have to use her cunning wit to out-fox people, as a quick get away would be impossible!
Q: What was your favourite part about playing Marion? A: Hard to choose. She is a pretty perfect character to play in my eyes. A woman who has worked hard to get to were she now resides. However, also a cunning temptress who can give the men a good run for their money!
Q: What was it like to shoot entirely on location, surrounded by castles? A: I could not honestly believe how lucky we were! The locations were beautiful and really helped us transport our minds back in time. Why use a set, when we could shoot in real castles? My favourite had to be Rocamadour. A stunning Pilgrimage town built in the side of a cliﬀ, which so happened to be my first shoot location as well. I was blown away!
Q: What was it like to film in the South of France? A: I had never been to the South of France before, so I was really excited to know I was going to get to spend so much time there! Now I cant wait for us to get back out there for season 2, for more Musketeer adventures.
Q: What challenges did you encounter working on a series with such a restricted budget? A: I work freelance generally, so knowing you are going to be away for nearly a month not earning can be scary! However, from the beginning I knew I wanted to be part of this project as I completely believed in it! So, it was a risk I was willing to take!
Also, I don't think I will ever look at a Nature Valley granola bar in the same way again. It became a staple in the Musketeer diet during the long, chilly nights.
Q: Are there any funny stories you will take you with from your time shooting in France? A: Too many! Even though there were times it was tough and we were all knackered from working long hours, most of my memories are of us all having a laugh! Some of which weren’t even that funny at the time, but now I think they are hilarious. For example, Sean Knopp (The Pilgrim) being constantly attacked by a fly during one of his most serious scenes with me! Another classic was the night I taught Edd (Athos) and Charlie (Porthos) the famous cygnets dance from the Ballet “Swan Lake”, all the while wielding swords in Musketeer attire. I think there is video footage of it somewhere, if Edd hasn’t tracked down and deleted every copy!
Q: How well did the Musketeers get on behind the scenes? A: I now call them my Musketeer family, so I think that speaks volumes! I honestly could not have asked for a better cast and crew to work with! We had such fun creating and producing this series, and I know I have made some great friends for life!
Q: There is a lot of chemistry on screen between you and the male characters you encounter. Presumably you got on well in real life? A: Yes completely. They are all such fantastic actors as well, which made my life very easy! Edd (Athos) was always so beautifully prepared. He really embodied Athos! Alan (Richelieu) was such a gentleman in real life as well as oozing nobility on screen, and as for “The Pilgrim”, it was even questionable whether Sean was a secret method actor… as he could really retain his creepiness around me long after wrapping on set!
Q: Where do you hope to see the series go from here? A: Well I hope there are plenty more seasons to come for a start! We all have so much more to give, and this plot seriously thickens! I can already tell that Season 2 is going to be EPIC!
Also, I am just so excited for the release of Season 1! Who doesn't love a story of swashbuckling, backstabbing, plotting, murders, and drunken tavern nights?
Interview - Sean Knopp (The Pilgrim) Q: Who is The Pilgrim? A: The Pilgrim is essentially a religious fanatic. An assassin monk hell bent on completing any task ordained to him by his superiors. Arrogant in his beliefs and completely single-minded, he uses deception, cunning and manipulation to overcome obstacles. He can’t be bought or reasoned with and is extremely well versed in many forms of combat. All this, coupled with the fact that human life means very little to him, including his own, means he is an adversary to fear. But like any human being, however formidable and uncompromising, there is always a weakness….
Q: The Pilgrim is a new character within “The Three Musketeers” universe, what was it like to play a new role among already famous characters? A: I relished the fact. The main characters in the Musketeers’ world are so well documented and have been played so many times before that there is only a certain amount of deviation allowed by the actor. I got to create a character from scratch and had to attempt to give him the same weight and presence as the rest of the well-known characters. I’m not implying that I had a harder task, but it was very exciting to create my own completely new character in this wonderful world.
Q: Do bad guys really have more fun? A: Possibly. I think they normally do. Certainly not though. I don’t think he knows what the word obedience, faith, servitude are the only things he eyes I believe “fun” would be something sinners partake in.
this character means. Duty, knows. In his and heathens
Q: The Pilgrim is a bit of a tortured character, was this a challenge to portray? A: Not particularly. Each character poses a diﬀerent challenge. I just sometimes had to distance myself from everyone else to get into a more isolated and dark frame of mind.
Q: What was it like to play a historical character rather than someone from the modern day? A: To be honest, I prefer playing historical characters. I tend to play them more than modern ones. I feel more aﬃnity towards them, don’t really know why… I guess it pretty much comes down to the fact that as a child I constantly watched historical/period/ fantasy films and always wanted to be a part of them.
Q: How diﬃcult was it for you to learn all of the complicated sword fights? A: The sword fights were a joy to learn. I’ve had plenty of experience with swords over the years but never this particular style so it was like starting from scratch. It was great to learn a new style and certainly one of the perks of the job. It may have been hard work, but the thought of putting the fights together and duelling in the shadow of a huge castle wall definitely inspired me. We had a wonderful fight team aiding us and fundamentally had a hell of a lot of fun.
Q: The stunning costumes were all custom made for the actors. What was it like to step into your own costume? A: The costume department were fantastic. Truly. I can safely say that The Pilgrim costume was the best costume I’ve ever had to step into. The cape did weigh more than a large bear but it gave me so much to work with. When you put on a costume like that, the character washes over you. A costume is a massive piece of the puzzle when creating a character, some give you more than others, this costume for me was the icing on the cake.
Q: What was your favourite part about playing The Pilgrim? A: Playing the bad guy is always so much fun. It’s always more exciting portraying a character farthest from your own personality. Most actors relish these type of roles. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. Doing things you would never normally do. Saying things you would never normally say. I originally went up for Athos but Harriet (the Director) instead oﬀered me the part of the villain. I don’t think I ever told her how happy I was with her decision.
Q: What was it like to shoot entirely on location, surrounded by castles? A: Apart from the extremely long journeys to set, filming on location was truly amazing. All the locations were astounding. It felt epic and made us feel that we were really part of something special. As an actor, there’s nothing like being in these type of locations, they do so much of the work for you. I’m still shocked as to how Harriet (the Director) managed to acquire them.
Q: What challenges did you encounter working on a series with such a restricted budget? A: I’ve done many jobs with restricted budgets so I was fully prepared for the challenges. At the end of the day though, it is these kind of projects in which you get to be the most creative. They require so much belief, camaraderie, tenacity and passion to push through to try to bring the piece to life. They are a true accomplishment. They are something to be very proud of and The First Musketeer is no diﬀerent.
Q: Are there any funny stories you will take you with from your time shooting in France? A: There certainly are and most involve Ryan Spong who plays Aramis. I don’t know how, but by the end of the shoot he had wormed his way into being my new flat mate!
Q: How well did the Musketeers get on behind the scenes? A: The whole cast and crew got on extremely well. There was a very strong camaraderie. Just as well, because the intense string of night shoots had the potential to fray the best of friendships. Nothing like no sleep and restricted amounts of food to tempt ones temper. The people on this shoot were a blessing and I made some very good friends.
Q: There is a lot of chemistry on screen between you and Nicole O’Neill, who plays Marion. Presumably you got on well in real life? A: Was there?! Ha! Well, that’s not for me to say. But yes, we got on very well. She is a lot of fun. Very energetic. And a laugh you can’t forget.
Q: Where do you hope to see the series go from here? A: I think the The First Musketeer has the potential to do very well so I hope we get some funding to carry on with the series. Even better, bought up by a television network! That would be very nice!
Q: What was it like to film in the South of France? A: France was amazing. Traveling to a foreign country to do a shoot is definitely one of the perks of the job for me. It allows you to get fully immersed in the shoot and you get to experience another country, which is always nice.
This is the official press kit for season 1 of the new web series "The First Musketeer". It includes how the series was brought to life, the...
Published on Aug 27, 2015
This is the official press kit for season 1 of the new web series "The First Musketeer". It includes how the series was brought to life, the...