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Ballad of Sophia. A statue’s story

Bringing the past to life for the big screen


Newly formed North Yorkshire council approached us to make a film about a statue that was to be the centrepiece of new development in Northallerton. The installation by local artist Ray Lonsdale, portrayed a young girl, Sophia Constable, who had been jailed at the former prison site. Our brief was to tell Sophia’s story as we filmed Ray’s creation of her statue.  The film was needed for the launch event and would be played in the cinema at the new development, and afterwards online.


We knew we needed to film in intervals so we could capture the key milestones in the work coming to life: We identified 3 stages to tell the story: Ray working on the statue, its delivery and installation and the unveiling to the public.  After timetabling our filming windows, we considered who and how we’d shoot.  As well as interviewing Ray, we planned to talk to people at the council about who Sophia was and what her story and statue would mean to the town. We also considered the “mood” of the piece: what lighting and music to use to add atmosphere and help connect the audience with the story of a hungry little girl imprisoned for stealing bread, a century and a half earlier.


Filming took place over several days, at Ray’s workshop and at the site itself. We used our gimbal mounted camera so we could “follow” Ray at work seamlessly. We also shot in high frame rate so we could slow the footage and highlight details like sparks from Ray’s iron welding. We lit the interviews to create a moody, more dramatic feel, which aligned better with Sophia’s sad tale. However at the installation we created a much lighter, more celebratory feel and use our drone to capture all angles of the statue as well as capturing interviews from the impressed onlookers.


The council were extremely happy with the finished film which was played at the official unveiling at the Everyman Cinema. We were lucky to be there too and it was a proud moment to watch how well people reacted to our telling of The Ballad of Sophia.