Rosie Tremain’s Novel ‘Sacred Country’ to be adapted into a film by Kent filmmaker Jan Dunn

Merryn Pearse as Mary with air rifle and wearing fur hat

Merryn Pearse as Mary in the promo for Scared Country

Influenced and fuelled by her own experiences in the LGBT community, multi award winning filmmaker, Jan Dunn, has adapted Rose Tremain’s bestselling novel ‘Sacred Country’ into a screenplay, which she aims to make into a film shot on location around Kent. Dunn’s screenplay is a sensitive, colourful and often humorous account of protagonist, Mary Ward’s personal journey to become Martin.

Mary grows up in rural 1950s and 60s Britain and her life is interwoven with her changing and complex personal relationships as well as the political changes in post-war Britain. Jan Dunn describes it as a time where ‘the concept of family, tradition and loyalty slowly became obsolete and unnecessary, when a new generation began to pursue their dreams and live them, with or without familial approval.’

The film recounts the story of Mary’s initial discovery: ‘I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I am a boy,’ to her transition and fight to become Martin; a topic rarely touched on the big screen.

Bringing this vision to life is Jan Dunn, a Kent based independent filmmaker, (Gypo, Ruby Blue, The Calling) and producer, Pippa Cross (Bloody Sunday, Shooting Dogs,). They are sending out a call to arms from individuals, LGBT groups, fans of the novel and anyone who feels that this heartfelt, poignant and important story should be made into a film to contribute to their Indiegogo campaign and get this film from page to screen.

Having already attracted  a BAFTA winning and Oscar nominated cast including Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, Little Voice, Saving Grace, Pride and Prejudice), Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Harry Potter, Southcliffe) and Jamie Winstone for the part of Mary (Made in Dagenham, Kidulthood), Sacred Country has huge ambition and needs your help to lift it off its feet.

Sacred Country is running an Indiegogo campaign where you can donate and keep up to date with the film’s progress. They have a goal of £50,000 and would appreciate any donation big or small, providing a number of rewards for your support.

Ruby Blue (2007)

Jack (Bob Hoskins) lurking in the doorway of a fishmongers. He is standing next to a display of frozen fish which has been laid out to cathc the eye of people walking past.

Jack (Bob Hoskins) © Medb Films

Directed and Written by: Jan Dunn

Starring: Bob Hoskins, Josiane Balasko, Jody Lathum, Jessica Stewart,Josef Altin

Production Company: Medb Films ,Entertainment Motion Pictures ,Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique , uFilm

Kent Filming Locations: Ramsgate, Barnsole Vineyard


Jann Dunn on set with actress Angelica O’Reilly at Barnsvole Vineyard © Medb Films

Written and directed by Jan Dunn (The Calling, Gypo), Ruby Blue stars Bob Hoskins (Hook, Enemy at the Gates), Josiane Balasko (My Life is Hell, French Fried Vacation), Jody Lathum (Shameless, EastEnders), Jessica Stewart (Genie in the House) and Josef Altin (Game of Thrones,Les Miserables).

The film is set in Ramsgate and several locations feature as themselves such as The Falstaff Inn, Ellington Park, The Granville, Ramsgate Port, and the High Street. Ramsgate is England’s only Royal Harbour, boasting of a rich history and has high speed rail links to London. Also Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, which can be seen in the film, is visible from the coastline on a clear day.  Ramsgate has since welcomed further media productions such as Big Bad World (2013), True Love (2012) and The Calling (2009).

Barnsole Vineyard in Canterbury is used as the location of Rosie’s (Angelica O’Reilly) place of work in the film. The same Vineyard also features in The Calling (2009).

Ruby Blue was first released in cinemas in 2007 and is now available to buy on DVD.


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Gypo (2006)

A person jumping

The Leap © Medb Films

Writer/Director: Jan Dunn

Producer: Elaine Wickham

Production Company: Medb Films, British Broadcasting Corporation, Distant Eye Films, Molinare Studio, Spotty Dog Films, VMI

Starring: Pauline McLynn, Chloe Sirene, Paul McGann, Rula Lenska

Kent Filming Locations: East Kent College, Kingsgate Bay, Margate, Pegwell Bay, Port of Ramsgate, Ramsgate, Royal Harbour Hotel and the Wig & Pen pub

Gypo is a 2005 feature length film follows the breakup of a working class family when their teenage daughter befriends a Romany Czech refugee.  Gypo told in three revelatory narratives, each from a particular character’s point of view, reveals how the disintegration of an ordinary working class family finally comes to a head when unexpected emotions are unleashed.  An innovative, gripping and engaging journey into the heart of a dysfunctional British family on the Kent coast, Gypo reveals how suburban fears and tabloid sensationalism have come to perpetuate the myths surrounding refugees.

Jan Dunn (The Calling, Ruby Blue) directs and writes the screenplay to her debut feature length film.  Pauline Mclynn (Father Ted, Eastenders, Angela’s Ashes) stars as Helen with a supporting cast including, Chloe Sirene (United 93, The Calling, Ruby Blue), Paul McGann (Alien 3, Withnail & I, Queen and the Damned).

The production filmed at a variety of locations in Thanet including East Kent College, Kingsgate Bay, Margate, Pegwell Bay, Port of Ramsgate, Ramsgate, Royal Harbour Hotel and the Wig & Pen pub.



 Chloe Sirene and Freddie Connor running along Ramsgate Harbour In Gypo

Chloe Sirene and Freddie Connor running along Ramsgate Harbour In Gypo 2005 © Medb Films


Director Jan Dunn and Gypo Crew at Ramsgate Harbour

Director Jan Dunn and Gypo Crew at Ramsgate Harbour © Medb Films

The Thanet area is made up of the towns Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs, and boasts beautiful sandy beaches and busy vibrant towns. The area has been featured on screen in productions including  The Tunnel: Sabotage (2016)The Lady in the Van (2015) and Top Dog Model (2012) .

Since their success with GYPO, Elaine Wickham and Jan Dunn, the team behind Medb Films have made a second feature set in East Kent, RUBY BLUE starring Bob Hoskins, as well as a short, MY MOTHER, both currently in post-production.

The film was released in November 2005 and is now available for DVD release.

With thanks to Jan Dunn and Elaine Wickham from Medb Films for the photos


For more information about filming in Kent please contact:

For more information about the film:

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MMFor more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: