Mossbourne schoolgirl Orla Hill sets sail for the big time by starring in Swallows and Amazons

PUBLISHED: 18:13 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 18:13 01 August 2016

Orla Hill (R) in Swallows and Amazons

Orla Hill (R) in Swallows and Amazons


“Some summers you treasure forever.”

Orla Hill (R) in Swallows and AmazonsOrla Hill (R) in Swallows and Amazons

That’s the slogan for the film version of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.

Last summer was certainly one of those for Mossbourne Community Academy girl Orla Hill – she spent two months sailing around the Lake District shooting the flick.

Orla stars as Susan, one of four siblings in the modern adaptation of the classic 1930 children’s novel. The film is released in a fortnight.

She was put forward for the role by Homerton-based Anna Fiorentini drama school, where she’s been learning to act since she was eight.

Orla Hill as Susan in Swallows and Amazons. The film is out on August 19Orla Hill as Susan in Swallows and Amazons. The film is out on August 19

And she had to do a swimming test to make sure she wasn’t scared of the water before being offered the part.

The 14-year-old told the Gazette: “When my mum told me I had the part, my sister videoed me screaming and jumping around because I was so excited.

“I really like the adventure in it, which suits my personality – it was very active with the sailing and the camping, and we did that in real life. There is no green screen.

“When we were filming on the lake it was just us four kids in a boat for days at a time. There was nothing to do but talk to each other, look around and sail, because filming is a lot of waiting around.”

Filming for Swallows and Amazons, where Orla says she and her co-stars were frequently left alone on a boat with little to doFilming for Swallows and Amazons, where Orla says she and her co-stars were frequently left alone on a boat with little to do

One of the most fascinating things for Orla was to witness the process of making a film, and how to achieve continuity in terms of weather and the children’s appearance when the same scene was filmed on various different days.

“In the Lake District you might have four seasons in four minutes, with sunshine, rain and wind,” explained Orla.

“If you film something and it’s rainy, you have to wait for it to rain again [to continue].

“Also the children start off incredibly tidy and neat, and end up feral.

“At one point we dressed up as warriors and we were jumping off a boat with yellow stuff on our faces and feathered headdresses.

“They had to put the dirt in the same place if it was a scene carrying on from the day before.

“The make-up department was in another boat and couldn’t always come to our boat to check continuity, so I had a spray bottle of water and I had to spray everyone if they needed to be wet.

“I’m always looking out for continuity in other films now.”

Orla is no stranger to the big screen, having starred in Song of Marion with veteran actors Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp three years ago.

She is now in the Anna Fiorentini performance troupe, which plays at the Hackney Empire in October to celebrate 15 years since it was founded.

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