Ancient Rome comes to the hills and valleys of Calderdale

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Halifax-born filmmaker Simon Rawson has spent the last two years working on a feature film set in the final days of the Roman Empire.

The Roman tells the story of a wandering Roman soldier who strikes up a friendship with a lonely traveller.

The pair cannot speak the same language, but take solace in each other’s company as they travel through the unforgiving wilderness of Britannia.

“The story is about a Roman who goes into the woods, maybe to die or find some kind of peace - you never really know.

“They share a fish, they travel together - you get an essence of who they really are,” says the film’s producer Lee Barnes.

“It’s a layered film - different things come out every time you watch it.”

Although the unamed pair are fictional characters, every effort was made to keep the story as historically accurate as possible and a point was made by the director to have the actors not say a word during the film.

“If you watch a film or TV show series about the Romans, you get these cheesy American or British accents - it’s just silly,” says Lee.

“Simon never wanted to make a Hollywood-style Roman film - it’s like taking a film like Gladiator and thinking about what it would really be like.”

It was filmed on locations across Calderdale including at Cragg Vale and Copley Woods.

“We were filming for two weeks last May, and we had the strangest week for weather - on the Wednesday we had one of the hottest days of the year and then a week later it turned horrible and felt like a different season,” says Lee.

“There was even still snow on some of the tops, so we trekked the equipment up there and got some great shots. It was great - it gave the film a really ambiguous sense of time. “

One of the film’s locations has unwittingly become the site of religious worship.

“When we were up at Cragg Vale we put up two crucifixes for a scene,” says Lee.

“We could only take one of them down on the day we filmed, and when we returned it had been cemented into the ground - it’s become a bit of a pilgrimage site.”

The film had the meagre budget of £24,000 and was made by drawing in the help of friends who volunteered their time to help make Simon’s vision a reality.

“The whole film was funded by myself. I saved for over two years,” says Simon.

“I pulled out all the stops on this. I asked everyone I knew for help and support to try to show the world my idea of the most perfect film - a film made with love and attention to detail in every possible way.”

Apart from the two main professional actors, the cast is made of people from Halifax and West Yorkshire.

“There was a battleground scene we filmed on the top of Saddleworth Moor. We had all of our friends dressed as Barbarians and Romans,” says Lee. “We were filming for two hours and they were all absolutely frozen - the shots where they are shaking is real .

“Even though it was Simon’s mates helping out, they all took it really seriously because they knew that this was a film that could make him.”

The film will be featured at a number of international film festivals and will be screened at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival later this year.

“On our poster we’ve got a lot of black space,” says Lee.

“ It’s kind of cocky in a way, but we really think we can get into the festivals and pick up some awards.”

lThe Roman will be screened at Hebden Bridge Picture House on Saturday, May 10, from 4.15pm.