What was the inspiration behind writing a murder mystery film set in the 1930s?
Jack: I had two ideas that came together. Firstly, I wanted to make a film about a woman who lost her husband and then a year later decided to recreate the event in the exact same way a year later in order to retrace her husband’s steps in order to solve the crime. I was also interested in the great big Salisbury estate called Wilton House. It’s a really beautiful place and you can go on tour there which I have done several times. In fact they shot Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon there. And so it was of particular interest to me and to anyone that likes film. So I wanted to see if I could bring those two inspirations together.
Why did you chose the 1930s to set the film in? Is this a time period that fascinates you?
Jack: I was inspired by the success of Downton Abbey which was coming to the end of its reign. I really enjoy the show and appreciate what it means to everyone around the world who loves it. I wanted to take that genre and inject a bit of wackiness into it, and see if I could add a bit of rock and roll into something based on that time period.
How did you feel about playing a 1930s character like Honey? Did you draw inspiration from anyone you know when playing her?
Alice: I didn’t base her on anyone I know, she was so fully realised in the script and through costume, hair and make-up that she really took on her own spirit. I think the appeal of the thirties is obviously endless, and I think that women then had the freedom to be all colours of their character. I think, although we’re changing again, there was a period when we weren’t allowed to be as cool as we were then or as tough, and she definitely has that freedom to be all colours of human nature. Also, it’s a wonderful time period to explore in terms of the look. We made a lot of adjustments, I dyed my eyebrows and I had my hair completely renovated.
So were you both creative as children?
Alice: Yes, definitely. I remember Jack wore a t-shirt throughout most of his childhood that said ‘what is art?’
Jack: I think that’s just because I liked the t shirt. I probably couldn’t even read it. I’ve always loved being creative.
And do you think the fact you’re siblings helped onset during the film making process?
Alice: Yes. Maybe because you’re not scared that they are not going to like you anymore, you are able to go further and push your ideas and maybe fight your corner and be a little braver in the whole creative endeavour. So you can really show all colours of your imagination without fear.
Jack: We were brother and sister among a cast and crew that would sometimes exceed one hundred people but it becomes irrelevant. The production designer also had his son in his department, so there were a few other family relationships. Ultimately, you just want to get the job done.
Alice: I always remembered you were my brother, no matter how many people were around.
Alice, was there any scene that you found particularly challenging or difficult to play?
Alice: When we rehearse the scene (which I really love) where women were behind me with the candles and the make-up and these spirits come out of the grotto. We really discussed how dramatic we wanted it to be and Jack came up with a new way of shooting the scene. It’s wonderful to be around the birth of a new idea on set when you come up with it on the sly. We really laboured that point, that she’s absolutely haunted by the death of her husband.
Was there a fun atmosphere on set?
Jack: I think it’s best to create a working environment that best serves all the creative people involved and particularly the actors, who are exposed in the most vulnerable way. In some scenes we had a very respectful atmosphere but there were some where we created a fun environment.
Jack, I know you said you’ve collaborated once before with your sister, but you’re still pretty new to the whole film making process. Was there anything in particular you found challenging?
Jack: Yes and I hope that I always feel challenged as making a film is a very hard thing to do. I was aware of wanting to keep up with the phenomenal skill of all the creative people that I was lucky enough to bring on board. Not only Alice, who has a back catalogue of extremely fantastic work but many of the crew who had worked on films that I love. The biggest challenge was making sure that everyone felt as free and imaginative as they possibly could be.
Alice, I’ve read that you’ve been busy working on a new Agatha Christie drama? How is that going? What can you tell us?
Alice: It’s a three part drama for BBC1 that will air around Christmas time. We made it in Glasgow and it was a joy. It was a great experience, a lot of fun.
And finally, if you could sum up Bees Make Honey in one line for people who haven’t watched it, how would you describe it?
Alice: I would say a murder mystery spoof that takes place on Halloween in the thirties.
Bees Make Honey premiered at the Raindance Film Festival 2017.