By BEN TRUSLOVE
Published on Friday 13 January 2012 19:00
Dave Lawless (36) and four of his Shire horses appear in the epic film War Horse, which opens on general release today (13 January).
The quintet spent two days on location in Castle Coombe, Wiltshire, for filming of the critically acclaimed movie.
It tells the tale of Albert’s beloved horse Joey, who is sold to the British Army and sent to the battlefields of the First World War in France.
Dave runs Waldburgshires with Elspeth Ross in Alconbury Weston, near Huntingdon, supplying Shire horses for weddings, funerals and other events.
And they have strong links with the Shire Horse Centre, at Sacrewell Farm in Thornhaugh where they keep some of their animals.
Dave said: “Filming for War Horse was surreal. When you’ve got your horses, walking them round right next to Steven Spielberg, I think surreal is the only word.
“It’s nice to do, to work with someone as prestigious as Spielberg. I didn’t get to meet him properly but he was very professional.
“He and his main cameraman have a really good rapport and a very definite idea about what they want.
“But in War Horse it’s particularly challenging. Getting lots of horses to do exactly what you want is tough – they have a mind of their own. It was a really good experience.”
The whole village was taken over for the film, with the crew going to great lengths to block out any signs of the 21st century, from telephone cables to white lines on the road.
Dave and Elspeth have not yet seen the film but are looking forward to watching it tomorrow.
The scene featuring Dave and the four Shires – Boy, Harvey, Scott and Comet – depicts an auction at which Joey is sold.
Dave stood immediately behind the equine star for the filming and hopes he will be clearly visible in the scene.
Dave is no stranger to movie-making, however, and has a string of successful films behind him, including both Sherlock Holmes films by Guy Ritchie.
Dave also makes an appearance in the forthcoming film Great Expectations – as David Walliams’ body double.
Dave said: “Filming is becoming a big part of what we do. Day to day is taken up with weddings and funerals and other similar events, but we’re getting more film roles.
“I was David’s body double just because someone knew me and thought I had a similar build. It was just for some of his scenes on horseback.
“But our biggest event is the Lord Mayor’s Show which we do every year in November.
“The last one was the toughest because of the protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral and there was a lot more security than normal.”
War Horse goes on general release in cinemas across the UK today.
For more information on Dave and Elspeth’s company visit www. waldburg shires.co.uk