Sean Connery, Shirley Bassey in Sir Billi
Producers of Sir Billi, the first full length animated feature to be produced entirely in Scotland, have announced that the British singing legend Dame Shirley Bassey will join the red carpet when the film gets it’s first international screening at the 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival in San Francisco on April 13th 2012.
Dame Shirley Bassey performs the title track ‘Guardian of the Highlands’, in the forthcoming animated movie starring the voice of Sir Sean Connery. Indeed this project was the first time Sir Sean and Dame Shirley collaborated since the Bond era!
Sascha Hartmann is directing ‘Sir Billi’ from a screenplay written by his wife Tessa Hartmann, from an original story they developed together. John Fraser is producer, with Sir Sean Connery serving as executive producer.
Expanded to a feature length CGI film from a 2006 short concept, this is a roller coaster adventure about the race to save the last beaver in Scotland, led by Sir Billi and voiced by Academy Award® winner Sir Sean Connery, in his first ever voice over role. Sir Billi is a vet by profession, skateboarder by passion and grandfather by love. He is joined by Tony Award® winner Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) who voices Gordon, a goat and Sir Billi’s confidante.
Sir Sean Connery, who has been heavily involved in the making of the film since its inception, said: “It’s a tremendous plus to have someone of Dame Shirley’s stature join the project and with a great song and her incredible performance, she will simply launch Sir Billi’s story, which is fantastic!”
Director Sascha Hartmann, who also composed the original song, said: “The Dame has been an incredible supporter of this project since day one. I believe her performance in ‘Guardian of the Highlands’ is one of her best ever. During the recording she was a consummate professional, utterly passionate about the song and true to her legendary status. Apart from anything else, she’s great fun and we are all thrilled she’ll be joining us in San Francisco. She stole the show wearing our ‘Sir Billi’ tartan gown last year at the Scottish Fashion Awards and I have no doubt she’ll do the same in San Francisco!”
The song was recorded in the UK and Dame Shirley is thrilled with the outcome. When asked how the producers persuaded her to join the project, Dame Shirley said:
“There was no persuading needed here, I liked the song from the moment I heard it. Sascha and Tessa made the process incredibly fun and easy for me and we got a great result.”
Academy Award® nominated Scottish composer Patrick Doyle, (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Thor”, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), created the film’s music score and has also been a huge supporter of the project.
“The fresh look of ‘Sir Billi’ and its original storyline gave me all the inspiration needed to create some of the best composition work I feel I’ve done,” said Doyle.
There is no doubt that the entire project took relentless determination and perseverance from the husband and wife team during the last 7 years. Alan Cumming said: “I think it is amazing that they have persevered so long and hard to get this project made in Scotland, when there was absolutely no precedent for anything like this there. Their enthusiasm was so great and I’m very predisposed to doing Scottish things. Though neither [Sir Sean nor I] live in our home country we feel very connected to it.”
So if the enthusiasm from the cast, legendary voices and talent attached is anything to go by, perhaps the Hartmann’s are indeed in for a big adventure!
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