Sarah Finch and Paul Gateshill share their experience of making a short film for the ‘Economy of Francesco’.

[New City Magazine – January 2021 page 20]

Readers may remember the article in New City (February 2017) about a performance of the ‘Return of the Little Prince’ at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 2016.

In 2019 we were approached to perform it again for the conference of young economists entitled the ‘Economy of Francesco’ in Assisi in March 2020. We were delighted and reassembled the cast from GB, Finland, France and Italy. Plane tickets were purchased. We were all set and then… Covid-19 struck across the globe. Initially Italy was one of the worst hit in Europe and so the conference was postponed until November that year. Little did we know that Covid-19 would still be rampant and the conference would have to be an online event (see page 4).

From theatre to film

The original performance was a 30-minute piece of theatre. We were unable to repeat this, so we decided to rewrite the script, specifically for this event and film it, using just local actors. It was a total rewrite, with the pandemic as the backdrop for the Little Prince’s return. It was also just 14 rather than 30 minutes long. We were approaching mid-October and just one month before the conference was due to begin.


Our first issue was – who do we find to film and edit it? After some research we were recommended someone. We sent them the script and had an initial zoom to meet one another and chat about the project. We were rather surprised when he declared that he didn’t really like the script. Also he didn’t really like the original book by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry. In fact he hated it. We began to understand that this wasn’t going to be a successful partnership so began to look for someone with a bit more enthusiasm. Time was not on our side…

New relationships

However, we soon came across a young filmmaker called Joshua King. We hit it off straight away. There was a shared vision and enthusiasm for the project, so we planned to do the filming at the end of October. In that time we also found two actors to make up the team: Richard Syms a retired Anglican priest and professional actor, together with Charlotte Collingwood, both a musician and actor. The team was ready for action!

Building the team

One of the main ideas behind this enterprise, going back to the first performance in 2016 – was not just the play itself, but the style of working with the whole team. We wanted to create an ethos of trust and creativity in the group, where egos are set aside and mutual love is at the forefront of the whole process. Everything else then becomes secondary – we all begin to relax, negative stress disappears and everyone flourishes and shines.

We find that the following ‘ground rules’ also help the creative process:

  1. To really listen to the other person and try to understand what the other is saying beyond the words used.
  2. No idea is a stupid idea. This gives space for newer and even better ideas to be born. Many times we have been amazed at how creative ideas have blossomed beyond our imagination.
  3. To speak in ‘truth’. In other words to fully give our ideas and not hold back on our own perspectives. This is quite hard to do because sometimes it is easier to pretend that we agree with something and therefore avoid creative conflict which can be enriching. It means believing in the love of the other – but also being detached from our own ideas.
  4. Being prepared to apologise and start again when we’ve not lived the above!

With this as the basis, the filming was a delight. We covered everything in the allocated two days, with everyone mucking in and enjoying one another’s company. By the end we were exhausted but extremely happy.

The final touches

With filming in the can, it was then up to Josh to edit the film ready for the online conference in a few weeks time. During this period he sent us various drafts and we were struck by his attention to detail and his open-ness to our suggestions, not to mention his professional creativity.

The film was streamed at the online international conference on 19th November 2020. You can view it at

A few responses received to date:

So well done, smart, clever, magnificent. A Jewel!

I will certainly be sharing it with friends – especially the Bahai’s here who will really appreciate the sentiment.

Excellent! What a life lesson for us all. Thank you.

This was worthy of Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s Petit Prince – charming and forceful at the same time.

I think this will be played again and again.

There’s a kind of directness in the film that made me think of the book ‘Mister God, This is Anna: The True Story of a Very Special Friendship’.

A real work of Art.

Very moving.

What a wonderful little film.

Fantastic! Simplicity with courage and strength. Just what our world needs right now.

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