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Ken Russell making Lion's Mouth


Ken Russell is currently in pre production of an underground film project called Leomania.  This is a true bizarre story in the 1930īs of the rector of Stiffkey known as the 'prostitutes padre'. David Bedford has already written an opera on the padre and there is a biography by Harold Davidson.  Diana Laurie will play the lead, a reporter from the Skegness Sentinel newspaper.

More details when available!!  Thanks to Victoria Russell for the information.

Filming of Leomania started

Hi Iain,  

Sorry I haven't got back to you for a while - but I have got some news to tell you regarding Leomania. Hellen got a letter from Ken a couple of weeks ago asking if she could get some of the Portsmouth crowd together to go to his house to do some filming. Six of us went to see him on last Sunday dressed in our best efforts of 30's gear armed with a picnic to be in a background scene. We all ended up being right at the front and in shot!! It was quite a surreal day!! The first scene was of the barrel containing the rector with Ken himself acting the part of Ring Master. A crowd gathers as the rector begins his philosophy and bursts into song, the crowd then begin dancing until a policeman comes along and requires the rector to move along. At this point the Ring Master invites the crowd to come along to the fair on Sunday and witness the rector preaching from a cage of lions. Diane was also there to help along with Ken's son and his Assistant Director. Apparently the film is to be released on the internet!!! That's all for now, will let you know if I hear more!!  

Andi and the Fox Den

Editing started

Dear Ian,

Sorry I haven't been in touch for a while. It's all been pretty hectic over here. We have pretty much finished shooting 'Leomania' - all bar a few inserts to be filmed now and editing commences straight away basically with Ken cutting the stuff on a system called 'Casablanca'.

Good news. Melvyn Bragg heard about the project and has commissioned Ken to do a South Bank show on his foray into the underground film world. Hopefully to be screened in November it will include footage of 'Leomania' as well as clips from some of Ken's fave underground movies.

There was a piece in the Evening Standard here in London about the shooting of 'Leomania' - quite funny. It can be found on the online Standard site which is called 'This is London'. Just put the name Ken Russell into their search engine and you should find the article OK here.

I'll let you have any more news as I get it

From Emma x

Ken Russell and Lions Mouth Marie with her Lion costume being dried ("Sooty nude"), Ken and Emma

(from This is London)

Editing and new title

The film will not be called 'Leomania', at present it is called Lionīs Mouth. Ken is now editing the film and also prepping a project for Melvyn Bragg- a documentary on Volcano, the underground film festival. To air in November. Clips from the film will be shown.

(Thanks to Victoria Russell for the information).

Diana Laurie in Lions Mouth From the filming of Lionīs Mouth

left: Diana Laurie with Kenīs dog Nipper. Previous work by Nipper includes "In Search of the English Folk Song".

right: The hazards of filming at home: Diana Laurie with Ken cleaning up dog shit from his drive

(thanks to Victoria for photos)

Diana Laurie and Ken Russell

Filming completed

Dear Ian Fisher,

Vicki gave me your e-mail. Just got back from helping my father film and edit his new underground film, The Lion's Mouth. Ken feels The Lion's Mouth is more apt as a title than Leomania. We have just been selecting some of the hundreds of takes for editing. We had 34 takes alone of Diana in her interview with Nipper the dog! We found that having no budget makes one, forces one, to reinvent, rethink, film-form; less-is-more; limited financial resources means one has to use one's imagination; we crafted million-dollar-images out of thin air! The most simplest images are the most powerful. The last shots were done last Sunday and now the editing begins. Diana was so superb as the camp journalist and the Medieval Babes were great in their Buzby Berkley tap-dancing routine on grass!

Best regards
Alex Russell
Set Designer, etc, etc. for The Lion's Mouth

Mediaeval Babes

The Mediaeval Baebes

Selecting takes

Dear Ian

I'm still in the process of selecting the hundreds of takes from dozens of scenes from the Lion's Mouth; we did so many takes of the scenes with Diana and Nipper that we found it difficult to select the best take (because they're all good in different ways). I select the takes with dad and he edits them; we share the choice in selections of takes. The props are old things we find in the stable and garage; we make things out of nothing in a sense; ex-objects, retired furniture, extinct rubbish: the usual lost objects of desire!

Best Regards
Alex Russell


Hi Iain,

Got loads to tell you and will set about getting photos to you as soon as back in London (in Italy at moment...."RESTING"!!!!!!!!) Also there is more press coming up as lots of people are interested.

Diana Laurie and Ken Russell What d'you think of new title? I know you hadn't thought "LEOMANIA" a good idea, but I had come to love it!!!!! Kept getting signs that it was lucky and my Dad put money on a horse at Ascot called "SUPERSTAR LEO" which came in first (could have won loads but bet a bit modest....) Will definitely let you know first of anything exciting!

Diana Laurie, star of Lionīs Mouth

Editing completed

Dear Ian,

Ken has just finished editing The Lion's Mouth which now runs at 28 mins in length. We worked together two weeks ago setting up the last few vital shots which may prove to be the most evocative and beautiful: and they came by chance and surprise.

filming Lions Mouth My father has proven you don't need a huge Hollywood budget to make magic. The Lion's Mouth is Back to the Future: like many of Ken's great early 1960s BBC TV Documentary Bio-Pics, The Lion's Mouth works through the economy of form, space, image where a limited budget gives one more freedom to experiment. Big Budget movies today are over determined, over-crewed, over-lit, over scripted, over stuffed with sets. Ken says he sent you a bizarre photo of me filming him in The Barrel Scene which was so difficult to shoot. Hope you got the pic and will scan it in. Ken Russell filming Lions Mouth

Best regards
Alex Russell


Dear Ian,

Ken and I are both working on the music sound tracks for The Lion's Mouth and are trying to work out what music would work best.

Best regards
Alex Russell


The film is nearing completion with work now on the soundtrack and some extra dialogue by Diana.

The film might be released over Internet, but a problem will be the copyright clearance of the music in the film. Another option was via the Volcano independent film festival and a documentary by Ken, but Ken wasnīt impressed by the stuff he saw at the festival.

There is the possibility of another documentary, possibly in three parts, which will include a cut down Lionīs Mouth.

Thanks to Ken Russell for the information.

Diana Laurie in Lions Mouth


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