Rupert’s university education was in Design, Photography and Natural History. His work has been copiously printed in books, magazine and wildlife publications. His love of the outdoors led him to train and qualify as an expedition leader and diver. Rupert has travelled extensively, lecturing and leading groups including expeditions to visit the Kogi Indians in the jungles of Northern Colombia. His life long interest in the natural world, has led him to further his research into archaeology, anthropology and evolutionary psychology. Filming ‘Standing with Stones’ has been a culmination of this work but he has also fulfilled his ambition to be a writer with the publication of the accompanying book by Thames & Hudson. For more information visit rupertsoskin.com
Michael was born on the Isle of Man in 1954. He is a professional actor, and among his many credits he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and worked at the Royal National Theatre for several years. Around the end of the 90’s he moved into video production and film making, developing ideas for television and freelancing as a corporate video producer. As a television producer his work includes “Henry Lincoln’s guide to Renne Le Chateau” and “The Man Behind The DaVinci Code” for Channel 5 and Discovery. His fascination for megalithic sites stems from early childhood when he was first taken to the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire. His ‘magnum opus’ has turned out to be the subject of this site: ‘Standing with Stones’. For more information visit michaelbott.net
My name is Michael Bott (with the cap) and it has been my privilege to partner my pal Rupert Soskin (with the shades) in the making of this amazing and unique film.
I think I was about 10 years old when I first visited the Rollright Stones. I remember it was part of a day in which my parents were showing visiting relatives the countryside around where we lived. Why I should remember that visit and why it should have had such an impact on me, I don’t know. After all, what are the chances of a small clearing with a collection of grey and battered looking stones arranged in a circle registering on the consciousness of a boy of 10? I liked cars, planes, guns, Action Man. Perhaps it was the way it was presented to me, perhaps the tales of witchcraft brought it alive or maybe it was just my own imagination confronted with a real life enigma for the first time, but for some reason, the image held and 40 odd years later I found myself returned to those stones, in the privileged role of film maker, for the making of Standing with Stones.
At that stage, in October 2006, Rupert and I were beginning the third major stage of filming for the programme and before us lay a three week hard working journey through Wales and Ireland. The filming for the South of England was complete and now we were just beginning to hit our stride – the workflow of research, scriptwriting, planning, travel and shooting gradually evolving to account for weather, breakdowns, memory loss and the unexpected. Surprisingly, the unexpected is mostly accounted for by the Stones themselves.
By now we have learned that however much research we do and no matter how sure we are what Rupert is going to say to camera about the sites we visit, that being there – standing with the stones – is so often going to turn our preconceptions and our plans on their head. This has been a joy and a wonder. Even with our enthusiasm and the knowledge that it is shared with many others, we were conscious of the fact that making a film about stones presents challenges. Stones don’t move. They’re not that exciting to look at. They don’t talk. They’re not sexy. But we needn’t have worried. What has astounded us and what we hope will astound the viewers of Standing with Stones is the sheer variety and richness of landscape and story that they present to us.
This film has been more than two years in the making. Our little convoy of camper van and Land-Rover has zig-zagged its way up through England, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, the Western Isles and eventually to Orkney. We have visited well over 100 sites and between us travelled at least 12,000 miles and we have laughed an awful lot. At last, after 8 months in the cutting room, we are finally able to share with you the fruits of our adventure and some of our thoughts and experiences from along the way.