By Vivienne Sharman- Lewis 

Ashleigh Harley is an award winning young female Writer, Filmmaker and Musical Artist known for her dark fantasy series; The Wall of Lyon.

Encompassing books, films and music that Ashleigh began to create when just 12, The Wall of Lyon is just the start of a journey that she is going to take us on over the coming months and years.

To help her craft her Worlds and understand the different disciplines involved in telling stories across all media Ashleigh has spent years not just writing words and music, but made it her business to jump in at the deep end and experience key roles in the film and music industry. To do that she’s acted on shorts and feature films, mixed music at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, danced on a TV show and worked as an Intern at the BBC. And whilst doing all this Ashleigh’s received a BAFTA Mentorship and graduated from a much sought-after National Film and Television School course.

Even though The Wall of Lyon has only recently been released in short film form it is receiving a rapturous reception among the tens of thousands of people that have watched it so far. Along with the awards she’s winning such as ‘Best Music’ and ‘Best Fantasy’ at various film festivals, Ashleigh is also gaining a loyal army of new fans every day.

So, what’s The Wall of Lyon all about?

Ashleigh explains “Divided from the truth by ancient, towering walls, and abused by the reign of an outdated society; outlandish fantasist ‘Cassini’ seeks asylum in an unknown world beyond the man-made walls of an authoritarian regime.

“It’s an Allegorical fantasy drama that considers the divisions of society and our discernment of belief – when ultimately all our lives are only ever governed by our own convictions.”

 

Vivienne Sharman- lewis: ” For years you’ve been working tirelessly to bring your vision to life:. The short ‘The Wall of Lyon’ offers the 1st glimpse of the fantasical world  you’ve created. After scooping a nice collection of awards and selections, and been received well by viewers. What are your plans going forward? ”

Ashleigh Harley: “The Wall of Lyon is an ongoing story, I have big dreams and high hopes to achieve with it yet. I have been working on the novelisation for well over a year now (almost two, yikes!) and will be seeking to publish the fantasy series. From there, I have my eyes on feature films and beyond.

 

It has always been my dream to introduce the world to this story through a variety of mediums, which does not stop at books and films. I have already begun work on The Wall of Lyon album, with the first single ‘Judge Me’ set for release on the 18th February 2018 and hope that should the book and feature prove a success that a video game won’t be too far behind – as I have a few ideas I want to implement that will make gaming even more immersive. For a while I’ve felt the medium of video games is being used to it’s full story-telling potential as of yet, and going forwards I can see great opportunities for The Wall of Lyon franchise.

 

And beyond The Wall of Lyon? Well, there is a whole universe that expands subsequently; the first stop is a science fiction trilogy I am extremely excited about – and have been writing since the age of 12!”

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Vivienne: “The Wall of Lyon is heavily influenced by ancient mythologies, why is that? Does your film have a message within?”

Ashleigh: “If we are to understand storytelling, first we must understand two things; first, we must have a working knowledge of all that has gone before, and secondly, we must have an insight into the fundamental principles that lie behind human nature. Mythology answers us both these questions.

 

Mythology is not only interwoven throughout history, it answers us many unanswered questions and leaves even more completely unresolved. None of us can deny our pasts, done of us can deny what it took to create human civilization as it stands today, and in observing the way by which human culture has grown; I observe that mythology and belief has had a fundamental role.

 

From childhood I was fascinated by mythology and the religions of the world, I read everything I could get my hands on; The Greek classics, The Popul Vuh, The Kojiki, The Poetic Edda, The Epics Gilgamesh, I devoured up every book I could find on the subject, and I discovered something that to me was more exciting, and more chilling than I had ever expected to find.

 

I have long believed in an explanation, the likes of which I don’t think has yet been discovered and since uncovering the synergy I have felt it almost a responsibility to share what I have learned, and the best and most powerful way I saw to do that was through storytelling itself.”

 

Vivienne: “I understand that you were very much the main contributor to everything in the film making process, what was the biggest challenge you faced overall?”

Ashleigh: “I thoroughly love all areas of filmmaking, and I absolutely relished in the opportunity of being so heavily involved with each department; however the biggest challenge I would say I faced overall was probably post-production, either the editing or the CGI.

 

The Wall of Lyon was a difficult edit, I had to cut more than half the original script due to technical issues, so trying to get a story out was a tough one. As for the CGI, I’ve been playing with 3D models for a long time, I’ve made a few animations and very much enjoyed doing so, but did not anticipate the myriad of rendering issues I was going to encountering when working with such high polygon meshes.

 

I have always been all about the detail, and this very much reflected in my sculpt and texture designs on the main fantasy beast ‘Behemoth’ for the film, so at least a month of rigging, painstaking animation, and rendering later I found myself cursing the day I ever decided to go CGI over practical!

 

Also, I found myself budget-less after the principle photography, and in desperate need of re-shoots; I somehow needed to find a way to find way to shoot for a week more, including a big chase scene with ten horse all for £0! Somehow, we figured that one out, but I was certainly worried for a while that the film was never going to be finished.”

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Vivienne: “How did you go about casting for the principle characters and how do you know when you’ve found the right actors to bring the character to life?”

Ashleigh: I was blown away by the huge response we received when originally posting up the casting notices. This being my first film, and few people knowing of my work I was concerned that due to my young age and lack of experience/standing in the industry few people would apply. However, I was very wrong!

 

By the time of the live auditions we had already received of 500+ applications for the three lead roles, and I was bowled over by the talent and passion that so many actors brought to the characters.

 

You know when you’ve met the person who is going to play the character you’re casting for, they walk in the room, you chat, and then the second they get in to character, even if they’ve yet to speak a word – you just know. It’s everything, from body language to tone of voice, to the way they hold the room and interact with the other character. You know when an actor has complete subconscious understanding of the character they are playing, it is not thinking, it is understanding, being and reacting.

 

All actors are good actors. Everybody, so long as they have the ability to empathise has the potential to be a great actor, it is the technique, understanding of the craft, immediate situation and material that determines the rest.

 

Good directing is all about good instincts, and casting is a perfect example of this. Casting is an instinctive process.”

 

Vivienne: “Your debut single ‘Judge Me’ will be released on the 18th Februaryand is part of the promotional package for your book and the film, tell us a little about that?”

Ashleigh: “Creating a pop song and being in a music video has always been somewhat of a hidden dream of mine, one that for a long time had been too afraid to talk about. I can’t tell you the number of times somebody has looked at me and said “You will never be this”, “you can never be that” groups of close ‘friends’ who would continually berate me for being different; and I finally woke up one day and said to myself: “no more”. 

 

I realised pretty early on that it doesn’t matter how much you try to please people, it doesn’t matter how much you might hide from the world; people are always going to judge you nomatter what. So you might as well live your life the way you want to live it, and make yourself happy.

 

I decided to face my fears and go for my dreams, I said to myself that I will live my life to ensure I have no regrets. I will be true to myself; and that is the basis that inspired Judge Me.

 

The song and the music video is a part of The Wall of Lyon series, following Cassini as she tries to flee from the repressive clutches of the state. I wanted to write something catchy, a melody that people might hum in the car or want to dance to in a club, but at the same time deliver a message and increase awareness of The Wall of Lyon series, and its overall message.

 

I wanted to make The Wall of Lyon accessible to an audience, and give its current audience something to be excited about. The entirety of every media project connected to The Wall of Lyon helps to deliver its ultimate story, and my plan is that this will allow people from all walks of life to receive its fundamental purpose.”

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Vivienne: “You wrote, produced, mixed and directed ‘Judge Me’ how does that process differ from the film making process?”

Ashleigh: “The practical process of creating music is very different from creating a film, however like all forms of creativity, especially ones that interweave performance there are similarities. Writing a song comes from the same place as a writer might write a book, producing a song comes from the same place and uses the same methods of thought the director uses when making their film, and when it comes to singing the song – it is very similar to the process of acting.

 

Music is created in three steps just like films, writing, production and then mixing; it requires creativity, objectivity and unbridled confidence to dive right into the spirit of your work. You use a different method of creative expression but the intention behind it all is ultimately the same, the only thing that alters is the craft and the technique itself.

 

I loved directing the music video for Judge Me. I had a very small crew, Mark Caldwell as the DOP, Alexander Donald as the gaffer and all round handy man, and shout out to my parents who did a bit of everything. It was a complete breeze to create, we all had great fun making it, and the footage we took reflected both the skill of those involved and the essence of a great team.

 

I also had to go through the process of choreographing the dances, and with little to no experience in dance, save a cameo appearance on a Michael Jackson tribute tour aged 14 I was nervous and trepidations of potentially looking like a bit of a fool. I could not afford back up dancers, and did not have the time or space to train up volunteers to ensure everybody was achieving the correct form, so I decided to train myself and use VFX masking to create the back up dancers. I spend a solid three months continually repeating the dance routines seen in the video to ensure each move was being executed in the same form repeatedly, and trained to the point where I did not need to think about it; the dance just became muscle memory and a natural response to the rhythm.”

 

 

 Vivienne: “The protagonist Cassini is quite unique, why did you choose a female lead?”

Ashleigh: “I can’t really say that I chose a female lead, The Wall of Lyon as a story simply developed naturally throughout the course of its life. I became aware of The Wall of Lyon after finishing the first draft of my science fiction trilogy. The entirety of the story was laid bare, all the characters were there, and the arc of the plot was fully formed. It has always been that way with my work, I feel as though I am working for it, instead of it working for me.

It requires patience, sometimes I would liken writing it to watching wildlife; it comes of its own accord and is very sensitive to interruption. One must be very still and tranquil if one wishing to see what they wish to see.

The Wall of Lyon is Cassini’s story, it could have no other protagonist. She is an essential character that leads a crucial link to the science trilogy proceeding The Wall of Lyon. Her role, her actions and the events that take place within The Wall of Lyon are integral to all that unfolds later on, and culminates into a truly epic adventure.”

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Follow Ashleigh and Discover The Wall of Lyon at:

http://ashleighharley.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thewalloflyon/

https://twitter.com/TheWallOfLyon

https://www.facebook.com/AshleighHarley

https://www.instagram.com/ashleighharleyofficial/

 

Written by : Vivienne Sharman-Lewis,

Organiser
: https://www.facebook.com/VeniceCarnival2018TheGlassSlippersMasquaradeBall/

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