Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 09:55 UK

School makes Hardy feature film

Filming of Far from the Madding Crowd
Students did the film on top of their normal studies

Students and staff at a school in Dorset have spent eight months producing a full-length feature film based on a Thomas Hardy novel.

The crew shot Far From The Madding Crowd entirely on location in the author's home county.

More than 140 pupils, aged between 11 and 18, and staff at the Gryphon School in Sherborne took part in the project.

The film was created by head of drama Rosita Clarke and pupils said they did not think she would "pull it off".

It was produced on "an absolute minimal budget" and Ms Clarke had to borrow everything from props and costumes to farm animals and a stately home.

"I just wanted to give the students in our a school an opportunity to do something which was just way off the wall and that they would never get to experience otherwise," she said.

Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy lived in Dorset and his novels are all based there

"There was never really any contest as to which author's work we would film.

"Dorset's most famous poet and novelist Thomas Hardy and his beloved countryside is on our doorstep and ripe for celebration." Far From The Madding Crowd is a typical Hardy tale of love, romance and tragedy.

Main character Bathsheba Everdene is loved by three different men; the patient Gabriel Oak, the obsessed William Boldwood and the shameless Sergeant Francis Troy.

The drama unfolds against a backdrop of rural life in the mid 19th Century.

Filming started last August and the big premiere is being held at the comprehensive school on Saturday.

The film will then run for a week at the school and before going on distribution to various venues throughout Dorset.

It will also be released on DVD.

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