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29 October 2014

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'A Place to Stay' in Wiltshire
A Place to Stay poster
The promotional artwork for A Place to Stay

Film director Marcus Thompson talks exclusively to BBC Wiltshire about his new film 'A Place to Stay.

This is a romantic drama set among the crop circles of the Wiltshire countryside.

audio Listen to director Marcus Thompson and consultant Reg Presley talking to BBC Wiltshire Sound's Peter Heaton-Jones about 'A Place to Stay'.
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Official Site

A review of the film

Photos from the filming of 'A Place to Stay'

Colin Andrews' Crop Circle Info page

Photos of the amazing crop circle formation at Milk Hill near Alton Barnes

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'A Place to Stay' was filmed over 8 weeks in and around Wiltshire during Summer 2001.

Lead actor, Colm O'Maonlai has recently landed a regular role in Eastenders as a fireman.

Director Marcus Thompson has directed music videos for the likes of Jesus Jones and Runrig.

Crop circle enthusiast and 'A Place to Stay' consultant, Reg Presley is the singer in The Troggs who have been together since the '60s. Their hits include 'Wild Thing' and 'Love Is All Around'

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'A Place to Stay', set against the magical landscape of Wiltshire, is a romantic story of love between a traveller and a gypsy woman. It is 'a tale of fate and the human capacity for endurance in an uncaring world.'

Colm O'Maonlai and Amanda Ray-King in 'A Place to Stay'
Actors Colm O'Maonlai and Amanda Ray-King play the star-crossed lovers in 'A Place to Stay'.

Writer/Director Marcus Thompson explains that it was an aborted attempt to film an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Jude The Obscure which led him to set the story in Wiltshire.

He said: "I started out planning to adapt Jude The Obscure until I heard Michael Winterbottom was doing it for the BBC so I had to shelve the project. In the process of preparing it, I'd walked every inch of Jude the Obscure and had scoured locations and fallen in love with the Ridgeway in Wiltshire."

This coincided with a suggestion from Marcus' art director who asked him to consider doing a story about crop circles. As Wiltshire is renowned for being the world centre for crop circle formations, Marcus knew there could be no other setting for the story.

"It was the crop circles that took me down to Wiltshire," he said.

"The countryside just blew me away. In terms of the script, I thought how do I go about this? Who lives there and what is there? I found that it is one of the most magical landscapes in the world and the people who live there are a great mix of cultures - villagers, travellers, gypsies and farmers."

Marcus Thompson directing 'A Place to Stay'
Marcus Thompson directing 'A Place to Stay'

Marcus described what people can expect from the film when it is released later in the year.

"I wanted to make a supernatural love story and the magical landscape lends itself to that. I've also really gone out of my way to make this film as watchable and as accessible as possible.

"We're trying to make something that is a bit didactic in its content, dealing with racism and environmental issues as that landscape is slowly slipping away."

As well as the Ridgeway, a great many well-known locations in Wiltshire were used including the market town of Marlborough and the hamlet of Alton Barnes.

Serendipity also played a major part in the making of the film as it was while filming was taking place last summer, that possibly one of the most intricate and impressive crop circle formations ever, appeared at Milk Hill near Alton Barnes.

Approximately 900 feet in diameter and consisting of over 400 separate circles, the formation, nicknamed 'The Orgasm' has amazed and puzzled crop circle enthusiasts the world over.

"It's well known we did make a couple of crop circle for the purpose of the film," said Marcus. "But we couldn't possibly have dreamed of having access to one like that. There is absolutely nothing like it, it's fantastic. We got some lovely scenes with the lovers in that crop circle."

To ensure scientific accuracy in the script, Marcus enlisted the services of acknowledged crop circle expert Colin Andrews. Colin is also involved with the new Disney movie 'Signs' starring Mel Gibson which is due out in August and is also primarily about Crop Circles.

Another well-known crop circle enthusiast involved with the movie and who also makes a cameo appearance, is Reg Presley, frontman for '60s pop group - The Troggs.

Marcus is currently halfway through post production on 'A Place to Stay' and is hoping to take the finished movie to the Cannes Film Festival in May in the hope of picking up a distribution deal.

If all goes to plan, he is confident it will get a theatrical release during the latter part of the year.

The filming of 'A Place to Stay' inside a crop circle
The filming of 'A Place to Stay' inside a crop circle.

Asked to sum up the film, Marcus had this to say: "It is somewhere between a David Lean movie and a Ken Loach film. It has epic pictures in it although it is a story about very humble people."

He also speaks profoundly about the Wiltshire countryside and the affect it had on him while filming.

"My abiding memory would have to be simply the incredible landscapes and the presence of those crop circles. For anyone with an imagination or anyone with an open mind, Wiltshire is a very powerful place to be."

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