2016 was a year of loss.
Armageddon Gospels was created in direct response to what occurred in 2016. On January the 10th, David Bowie died and on the 2nd of February, after a six year long demise into the darkness of Alzheimer’s, my mother died.
On the 23rd of June Britain voted to leave the European Union. The country of my birth gave way to racism and fascism, ideologies that existed in the seventies, as I grew up. The undigested racism, hatred and bile resurfacing to consume the land of my birth.
The same fear and hate I recognised from childhood, but not the truth of the place I call home. The rise of intolerance coincided with both deaths.
My mind combined these events into a story about refugee gods, returning to search for the holy grail, in a ritual that might save the mythic landscape of England from the haunted presence of an entity called the Bone King.
The screenplay was written in an ecstatic state of mourning and grief. For the loss of my mum, my motherland and the loss of one of England’s greatest sons: David Bowie.
We shot ‘Armageddon Gospels’ over the course of the summer in 2016, in East Sussex on the South Downs, one of England’s most beautiful national parks.
The ideas and concepts, the sadness and loss was mirrored in communion with the most beautiful and quintessentially English location that I had ever worked within. As we shot each scene across the South Downs, the weather appeared to change and shift, mirroring the emotions I was experiencing. Albion was felt as a presence.
In the midst of grief, the spirit of the land became a living partner in the creation of the film. Offering solace and a space to grieve for my mother and country. The foundations of my emotional connections to the land of my birth, that I felt all my life manifested as a genius loci, the spirit of a land, that produced my mother and Bowie. Slowly over the course of being on location and filming, ‘Armageddon Gospels’ replaced a part of my identity that was broken and damaged.
In ‘Armageddon Gospels’ a ritual takes place to honour and heal Albion of the Bone King’s sickness. We shot this scene at the feet of the Long Man of Wilmington, an immense hill figure. The ritual was performed beneath the giant Albion himself, in a chalk field, on what appeared as the exposed bones of the land.
As we captured this scene, a woman and a man walked close to where I was watching the ritual taking place. I asked if they would mind waiting whilst we finished filming. They said they were happy to, and after we cut, we began to talk and a new connection was made within the Theatre of Manifestation. The woman was a folk musician named Joanna Burke, an expert in the history of English folk music. Joanna went on to score the entire film.