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TripFiction are making a movie!

24th July 2019

Here’s an exciting new adventure for us at TripFiction…we’re making a film to help promote a wonderful book with a very firm sense of place. The essence of TripFiction, transferred from the page to the camera lens.

TripFiction’s Andrew summarises the journey so far:

December 2018 – Katherine from Oldcastle Books sends TF’s Tina an advance copy of ‘The Conviction of Cora Burns‘, the debut novel from Carolyn Kirby, published by No Exit Press.

To believe in her future, she must uncover her past…Birmingham, 1885. Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her. Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

January 2019 – TF are invited to join author Carolyn on a historic walk around Birmingham. Andrew agrees to go, and starts reading the book. Sadly, the event is postponed but – on a freezing winter’s day – Andrew braves the biting Birmingham cold to follow in the footsteps of author and character. Read his #OnLiteraryLocation post here.

February 2019 – Andrew finishes reading the book, and the review is added on TripFiction here – 5* for both location and content.

‘I savoured every page of ‘The Conviction of Cora Burns’. Carolyn Kirby has created a lead character who is both inherently bad, and yet not without some kindness and hope. The story is multi-layered, discussing wide-ranging themes, including nature versus nurture, mental illness, memories – whether real or false – class structure and motherhood. And all this is told with an authenticity of language, place and time that can only reflect a huge investment in research by the author:’

March 2019 – No Exit Press publish a special paperback edition of the book.

April 2019 – Andrew has a Eureka moment (a rare occurrence). Separate from TripFiction, he has a travel content marketing venture – Great Escapations – with film-making colleague and friend Mark Melling. Andrew pitches the idea to Clare at Oldcastle Books – how about a short promotional film to bring the book to life? Publisher, author, publicist and TripFiction embrace the concept…

April 2019 – Clare asks Alice at W. F. Howes if we can use some short clips from the audiobook version of ‘The Conviction of Cora Burns’ in the film project. Approval is given, as long as the clips used in the film total less than 5 minutes, and Alice generously transfers the audio files to us. Cora Burns is beautifully narrated by actor and voice artist Emma Fenney.

May 2019 – Andrew drafts up the first version of the script and ‘running order’ for the film, using a combination of key passages from the printed book, some powerful pieces from the audiobook and ‘to-camera’ interviews with author Carolyn. Carolyn suggests some minor edits to the script and we have a framework for the film that everyone is happy to work towards….

May 2019 – in planning how best to bring the script to life, a key decision becomes whether to use actors to play characters Cora Burns, Violet and Thomas Jerwood, or if other techniques can be adopted. Andrew asks contacts Nick at the Guildford Fringe Theatre Company and Marcus and Muireann at Movie Collective for advice. We also approach The Birmingham Repertory Theatre about the possibility of hiring some authentic Victorian costumes. Because of logistical challenges and budgetary constraints we decide against using real-life actors, in favour of alternative creative alchemy.

May 2019 – Carolyn and Andrew meet in Birmingham for a location scouting day. Carolyn gives Andrew a tour of the ‘Soho Loop‘ canals, and the sites of the Victorian prison, lunatic asylum and workhouse where Cora spends the first 20 years of her life. From there they visit Soho House, the Georgian home of renowned industrialist Matthew Boulton, to see whether it can be adapted into The Larches, Thomas Jerwood’s Victorian home at Spark Hill, on the other side of Birmingham. Finally, thanks to Isobel at the National Trust, they visit the Birmingham Back to Backs to assess whether this carefully restored 19th century courtyard of working people’s houses could play a role in the film.


June 2019  – Andrew and Mark from Great Escapations agree dates in July with author Carolyn for shooting the film in Birmingham. Andrew sets everything up to ensure the shoot is as efficient as possible: we agree exclusive access to Soho House for a morning, with a recce the previous afternoon; we secure exclusive use of the courtyard and period homes at the Back to Backs for a couple of hours one morning; and we plan a few hours down by the Soho Loop canals and site of Cora’s old Victorian institutions…Carolyn hopes that we don’t get caught on the security cameras of today’s Winson Green prison!

July 2019 – the location shoot to film footage for our promotional film of ‘The Conviction of Cora Burns’ arrives. Spread over 3 days, with Mark & Andrew spending two nights in an apartment in Birmingham’s regenerated Jewellery District, and Carolyn staying with an author friend on the Edgbaston side of the city. The weather is cloudy, with a chance of some light showers…’better than bright sunshine’ says the man with the camera.

  • we explore the Soho Loop canals and the first to-camera interview with Carolyn is through the bars of a high gate around the lunatic asylum. Mark gets some close-up footage of a beautiful heron by the canal. An omen?
  • Mark loves the interior light at Soho House, particularly by the old staircase leading down to the cellars below stairs. We do to-camera interviews with Carolyn in various places around the house, including ‘the fossilry’, perfect as scientist Thomas Jerwood’s laboratory
  • filming at the Back to Backs goes well. Interiors of the period homes are perfect for to-camera interviews with Carolyn for some key passages in the script. The courtyard scenes are more challenging because of noisy air-conditioning nearby in the city centre, but Mark is happy with footage ‘in the can’ and we enjoy an impromptu ‘wrap party’ at Wetherspoons in the city centre. I told you it was a low-budget shoot!

July 2019 – back at Great Escapations HQ, the hard work begins: Mark makes the first edits, dropping the to-camera interviews into the ‘software timeline’, adding in the audiobook passages, other footage and B-roll, and begins the search for an appropriate soundtrack. At a post-production meeting, Andrew sees the preliminary outline of the film, cuts some text from the script and both Mark and Andrew agree that a final piece of footage is needed to complete the film.

And that’s the TripFiction movie-making story so far. It doesn’t have an ending yet…that should come in August, when we’ll add a link to the final edit of the film here, and TF’s Tina will distribute on our social media channels. Great Escapations will add the film to the portfolio on their own website, and author Carolyn and publisher No Exit Press will use the film to promote publication of the ‘mass market’ paperback in October. We also hope that the film will be shown at the Birmingham Literary Festival in October, alongside Carolyn’s ‘walk and talk’ event around the historic parts of Birmingham that Cora Burns so vividly inhabits in the book.

Fingers crossed this is just the first TripFiction project to bring a book with a strong sense of place to celluloid life. Which book – set in which location – do you think would make a compelling short promotional film? Please leave your thoughts below.

Andrew for the TripFiction Team

Join team TripFiction on Social Media:

Twitter (@TripFiction), Facebook (@TripFiction.Literarywanderlust), YouTube (TripFiction #Literarywanderlust), Instagram (@TripFiction) and Pinterest (@TripFiction)


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Hurry, hurry! Our 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition entries close on 15th November...

750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

Short story, travelogue, or memoir

Top judges to decide the winners

Cash prizes totalling £500 / $600 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 15th November 2020