New fantasy film was shot in Norfolk and Suffolk during pandemic

Short film Maximus, which turns a boy's cancer struggle into a fantasy battle, was shot in Norfolk and Suffolk. 

Short film Maximus, which turns a boy's cancer struggle into a fantasy battle, was shot in Norfolk and Suffolk. - Credit: Will March

A short film based on the true story of a boy's cancer battle was shot in locations in Norfolk and Suffolk last summer. 

'Maximus' sees his struggle turned into a fantasy battle, featuring wizards, pyrotechnics and stunt horses, imagined by his sister India who thinks of her brother Max as a warrior. 

The film was written and directed by Richard Prendergast and produced by Rachel Prendergast, both of SubMotion Productions, and Max Mason, of Chalice Films. 

Will March

Richard Prendergast (writer and director), Max Mason (producer) and Jonny Cass (1st assistant director) (L-R) on the set of Maximus. - Credit: Will March

They started filming on July 5 last year, a day after lockdown was lifted, and it took place over nine days in locations including Thetford Forest, the University of East Anglia campus in Norwich and West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds.

The college had an even bigger role to play though as 40 students on the film and media course joined the professionals on set, working in departments from props to make-up.

Mr Mason said: "On the biggest day we had 130 people on set, which is immense for a short film, and by the end it was difficult to discern the students from professionals." 

Cast and crew on the set of Maximus, filming on the University of East Anglia campus. 

Cast and crew on the set of Maximus, filming on the University of East Anglia campus. - Credit: Submotion Productions

The story behind Maximus also came from head of the course Ben Pryke and he approached the Prendergasts to adapt it into a short film as he wanted his students to have first-hand experience of filmmaking. 

Mr Pryke based it on his friends Jodie and Daniel Rowlandson, from Saffron Walden, who received the news that their two-year-old son Max had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2010.

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He has been cancer free for seven years.

Behind-the-scenes of Maximus, shot during the pandemic in July 2020. 

Behind-the-scenes of Maximus, shot during the pandemic in July 2020. - Credit: Simon Boosey

Filming with coronavirus measures in place had plenty of challenges, including wristband systems to keep departments in separate bubbles. 

Mrs Prendergast said: "It was already ambitious even before we encountered Covid, but the positives of lockdown was that it enabled us to have more time in planning, which was a real blessing, and we had access to professionals otherwise unobtainable as they are normally so busy."

Simon Battensby (gaffer) and Richard Prendergast (director and writer) on set of Maximus. 

Simon Battensby (gaffer) and Richard Prendergast (director and writer) on set of Maximus. - Credit: Misha Panov

A charity premiere of Maximus raised £3,277 for the Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust and you can donate at justgiving.com/fundraising/maximusfilm.

The film is currently doing the festival circuit and you can see updates on its general release on the Maximus Film UK Facebook page. 

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