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The Secret Ingredient of Sub Rosa: Sophie Brooks

If you ask a professional who has achieved success in the arts, they’ll tell you that the awards and the ability to support one’s self is greatly appreciated but the true north they seek is making art with others they respect and like. Director Thora Hilmars first became familiar with producer Sophie Brooks while they were both working at RSA Films (Ridley Scott Associates). Witnessing Sophie’s command on projects at RSA, ranging from commercials to the Chemical Brothers tour, convinced Hilmars to approach Brooks about producing the film Sub Rosa. Judging by the recognition the film received, this was a well-founded idea. Sub Rosa was an international hit with acclaim from the San Diego Film Festival (Winner Best short film), Reykjavík International film festival (Jury award), the London short film festival, Rome Independent film festival, and others. Thora communicates, “Sub Rosa was screened at many festivals and nominated for an Edda, the Icelandic Oscars. Sophie was the main Producer of Sub Rosa and did an exceptional job of holding everything together. A director needs to have complete confidence in their producer; Sophie did this expertly and kept the entire crew safe and happy. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with her again.”


Sub Rosa is centered on an eight-year named Tilda who is growing up in a less than ideal environment. The orphaned girl lives with her grandmother in a flower shop which serves as the front for a brothel. Like most children, Tilda begins to mimic the behavior of the grown-ups she observes. The salacious interactions between the women working at the brothel and the men who come and go begins to influence the youth until one “lady of the evening” takes on a maternal role. The grandmother in the film is played by BAFTA award-nominated actress Prunella Scales who is perhaps best known for her role as Basil Fawlty’s wife Sybil in the BBC comedy Fawlty Towers (also starring Oscar nominated actor and founding member of Monty Python John Cleese). Estelle Arama appears as Tilda and Alexa Brown portrays the main prostitute.


Sophie’s notoriety throughout the industry paid a particularly vital role in the creation of Sub Rosa in a number of ways. While searching for the perfect location of the brothel, the producer reached out to her connections in the fashion photography industry for input. Deciding upon a location that combined a balance of a non-modern aesthetic with a non-English feel (used in Vogue and other iconic fashion publications), the set was both fabulous and freezing in the north of London. Frenetic undertones permeate the story, possibly as a peripheral effect of these weather conditions. Intense and uncomfortable are two apt adjectives for the tone of the film but not the communication of those making it. Brooks reveals, “Thora was particularly pleasant to work with. She’s such a collaborative director with a strong vision. Any budgetary or script issues that came up were always discussed and adjusted together.” It takes a talented team to persevere in adverse conditions to manifest a creation so celebrated. Sophie Brooks is the centrepiece of this unit, enabling them to be the artists they are by doing what she does best.

Author: Kelly King

The Secret Ingredient of Sub Rosa: Sophie Brooks Reviewed by JaamZIN on 5:36:00 AM Rating: 5
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