Producers of controversial film project Wat Tyler are continuing with the project despite pressure to close from potential participants, who complained that they were made to pay excessive phone charges to take part in auditions.
The Stage last week received a letter from one of the film’s producers, Terry Lambeth, saying that he and director Steve Farron had been forced to close the company, Historic Films Limited, and its website www.wat-tyler-movie.co.uk because of bad publicity from those wanting to take part.
Although a posting on the site initially said that the project had been closed down, this week it again appeared to be up and running. In a subsequent email to the newspaper, Lambeth wrote: “I’m sorry if I appeared to mislead you. The decision to close the website was mine but others involved in the project decided that I acted in haste and the website should continue.
“It was felt that closing the site was an admission that we had done something wrong. If any party thinks we are illegal they should report us to ICSTIS, the DTI or Trading Standards – not remain faceless by badgering the media into attacking us.”
Performers had complained that a chance to appear in the production was dependent on them signing up to receive an unlimited number of text messages at a cost of £1.50 each.
The disgruntled participants said that the subsequent messages sent to their phones were superfluous and irrelevant and warned people not to take part via postings on a number of websites.
Lambeth then wrote to The Stage claiming: “I have decided our project is so badly damaged by the internet attacks, there is little likelihood of it ever obtaining sponsors.
“For all the wrong reasons, therefore, we are closing the project and also the company. No text messages have been sent since September 24 and the service is now disconnected.”
Farron had earlier told to The Stage that he regretted if the Wat Tyler website could have been interpreted by participants to mean that they were obliged to sign up for the texts in order to qualify for auditions.
At the time he stated: “At no time did we intend to charge for auditions. If our website implied this then we apologise. We have made changes to the website that now makes the position absolutely clear.”