Margy Kinmonth, Filmmaker of Eric Ravilious: Drawn To War, Talks Upcoming Projects and Box Office | Features
British filmmaker Margy Kinmonth, whose documentary Eric Ravilious: drawn to war is enjoying surprise success in British and Irish cinemas, showcased its slate of animated production, including a docu-drama about British painter George Stubbs and a project about female war artists.
Both are in the early stages, with Tom Hollander high on Kinmonth’s wish list to play Stubbs.
The as-yet-untitled film about female war artists from WWII to the present day in Ukraine will give women’s perspectives on conflict and is in partnership with the Imperial War Museum in London.
Kinmonth is halfway through filming a project about the first man to come to the UK through the Channel Tunnel from Sudan, who now lives in Birmingham.
She also plans to bring the story to the screens of her grandfather, Admiral John Godfrey, who inspired the James Bond character M, and whose assistant was Bond author Ian Fleming. ” I talked to [Eon Productions’] Barbara Broccoli to do something for him. I pick this up from all the male military historians.
Surprise doc shot
Published by arthouse documentary specialists Dartmouth Films, Eric Ravilious: drawn to war, about forgotten British war artist Ravilious, has exceeded expectations since taking £22,418 in its opening weekend (July 1-3) in the UK and Ireland. It has grossed £164,513 (as of July 25) and is still in 39 locations, with midweek screenings a key factor in the feature’s success.
This makes it Dartmouth’s biggest outing ever, comfortably beating the 2019 Hampstead Heath swimming culture document The ponds, which grossed a total of £86,284. It’s the best performance from an independent arthouse documentary since before the pandemic.
In comparison, other recent opening weekends on the market have included Dogwoof’s McEnroe, (£7,962); Documentary on Julian Assange of Dartmouth Ithaca (£2,320); Archival document of Princess Diana of Altitude Princess (£3,430) and Signature Entertainment’s Queen Elizabeth II title Elizabeth (£4,074).
“I’ve always been absolutely devoted to filmmaking,” says Kinmonth. “A bit old-fashioned, they’ll say, but now look at me, I’ve proven them wrong.”
Kinmonth was so dedicated to theatrical release that it nearly self-distributed. “The projected margins were so risky that we almost self-distributed and created a business plan for it,” Kinmonth said. Three to four months before Kinmonth’s scheduled July 1 release date, Dartmouth Films joined us to distribute in the UK and Ireland. “We knew [founder and managing director] Christopher Hird of Dartmouth Films and I knew their distribution record could match my film,” says Kinmonth. She has the international rights and says she is in active talks with international distributors.
Kinmonth began his career in television series, on British soap operas EastEnders, Victim and Grange Hill. A dislike for the development stage of drama production propelled her into the documentary space. She continued to make years 2013 Royal Paint Boxon Prince Charles’s passion for watercolors, as well as documentaries exploring Russian culture, such as those in 2014 The hermitage revealed and 2016 Revolution – A new art for a new world.
But Eric Ravilious: drawn to war proved an impossible sell for the backers. “The film was turned down by many bodies which really should have helped. The BFI, Creative England, [National] Lottery, Art Fund, BBC – all the different channels have all repeatedly rejected the idea. I have applied over and over again for different funding partners.
Kinmonth persevered, with the blessing of Ravilious’ family, who granted him access to his letters. Then the pandemic hit. Inspired by a crowdfunding campaign to save artist Derek Jarman’s cottage, Kinmonth set up crowdfunding for her film.
“I had never done it in my life,” says Kinmonth. “All my films had been financed more broadly by foundations or broadcasters. Some people wanted to support me because they loved me and my movies, others loved the artist, and some wanted to support the industry in the dark times of Covid.
With the help of three prominent investors, Kinmonth was able to push the project forward during the pandemic. “Because no one was looking over my shoulder, I made the movie I wanted to make. A TV company could have funded it, but it would have made a very different movie. I’m watching a much richer story, more long and more emotional, and that’s why the audience reacted to it, they walk out of the theater crying.
The secret of success
Ravilious was primarily a landscape artist, who used watercolor paints as his medium. He was killed while on active duty during World War II in 1942. This year marks the 80th anniversary of his death. Kinmonth’s project is the first feature-length documentary on Ravilious and includes commentary from Ai Weiwei, Alan Bennett, Grayson Perry and Robert Macfarlane.
In Sussex, where Kinmonth and Ravilious grew up, he is a much-loved figure. “It’s on tea towels, mouse pads, postcards and fridge magnets,” Kinmonth explains. “I knew he was a popular British artist, but he’s not known in museums. It is undervalued.
Dartmouth Films reached out to Ravilious’s fan pages on social media, inviting page admins to press and preview screenings, and working alongside them to create key marketing assets, as well as reaching out to organizations with links with the artist.
“Our grassroots approach has allowed us to leverage relevant local organizations, including galleries that have exhibited Ravilious’s work, across the country to amplify the film in their communities and through their networks,” notes Wayne, Director distribution and sales of Dartmouth Films. D’Cruz. “The film was most successful in London and the South East – Ravilious was born in Acton in [west] London and grew up in Sussex. The local connection has proven advantageous for many cinemas in the region.
Top performing sites include Depot in Lewes, Sussex, Towner Eastbourne, Curzon Mayfair and ActOne in Acton.
“There’s something about Ravilious that’s a shared secret,” Kinmonth adds. “The guards who said no one had heard of him were wrong. People have a lot of affection for him.”