Saturday, 13 August 2022

Director sorry for remembrance ‘disrespect’

THE director of a Second World War film has apologised for shooting scenes in Shirburn on Remembrance Sunday.

THE director of a Second World War film has apologised for shooting scenes in Shirburn on Remembrance Sunday.

Watlington Parish Council had asked the producers of Fury, which stars Brad Pitt, to halt filming on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day as a mark of respect but a night shoot on Saturday continued until 2am the next day.

The decision to film into the morning of Remembrance Sunday was described as “grossly insensitive” by Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, and “inappropriate” by shadow defence minister Kevan Jones.

Director David Ayer, a former submariner in the US navy, apologised in a message posted on his Twitter page.

He said: “My heartfelt apologies for any disrespect on Remembrance Day. I am a veteran myself. It is an honour to film here in the UK.”

Parish council chairman Ian Hill said councillors had contacted film producers Sony requesting a halt in filming after receiving a letter informing them of the schedule for shooting.

“The parish council looked at it and thought the filming of gunfire and all the rest of it in the period immediately around Remembrance Day probably wan’t a good idea,” he said.

“One of the councillors contacted the company by telephone and had a series of conversations with various people and it was agreed, verbally at least, that they would not film on Remembrance Sunday.”

Cllr Hill said he was “surprised” that filming continued on Sunday despite the producers’ assurances to the contrary.

“From that point of view, all the parish council can say is filming battle scenes and all the rest of it was not the most sensitive thing to do,” he added.

But Jim Stubbs, chairman of the Watlington branch of the Royal British Legion, said one Legion member and serving member of the armed forces lives in Shirburn and was not concerned by the filming on Remembrance Sunday.

“He was not disturbed by any noise and he wasn’t disturbed in any moral or emotional way,” said Mr Stubbs.

“The way he saw it, they were just doing their job and it didn’t cause any distress to anybody.

“The main thing is that the promise was kept that there was not going to be anything going on for 11am on Remembrance Sunday or 11am on Armistice Day.”

A statement from film producers Sony said they “strongly support the commemoration of Remembrance Sunday and all that it stands for and deeply regret any misunderstandings caused”.

In a statement, Ayer added: “I have only the deepest esteem for the British military, its storied history and the sacrifices of those who have fallen.

“I am a veteran myself, from a family with a long history of military service.

“There is no greater sacrifice and no greater honour than to serve one’s nation and to fall in battle in said service.

“I have enjoyed nothing but hospitality and co-operation while filming in the UK.

“As a film-maker, it is a privilege to film in the United Kingdom and I wish to add that the professionalism of our British crew is unsurpassed.”

The filming in Shirburn is due to finish at the end of this week.

Former military personnel are working as military advisers, cast and extras on the film, which is due to be released next year.

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