March 1, 2023 7.00 am This story is over 13 months old

Last Dambuster George “Johnny” Johnson to star in film on raid

Reflecting on the 617’s attack on Sorpe Dam

By Local Democracy Reporter

The last Dambuster George “Johnny” Johnson will feature in a film about a crucial World War Two raid.

The film will document the 1943 attack on the Sorpe Dam during World War Two and will be released later this year.

Lincolnshire-born George “Johnny” Johnson became known as the last remaining Dambuster up until his death in 2022.

The film explores Johnny’s work with his aircrew in from March 1943 until the May raid on Sorpe Dam, courtesy of the 617 Squadron.

Dambuster George “Johnny” Johnson MBE. | Photo: Matt Rogers

Still from Attack on Sorpe Dam. | Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz

It will feature narration and first-hand accounts from Johnson, and creation of the film involved taking him back to Germany in the front seat of a helicopter, following the route of the aircraft on the Sorpe Dam raid.

The Sorpe Dam raid was not featured in the original 1955 Dambusters movie, and filmmakers Andrew Panton and Piotr Forkasiewicz took it upon themselves to tell this story.

| Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz

The film’s Director Andrew Panton commented: “Johnny and I wanted this film to provide an accurate representation of what actually happened and be true to the facts.

“Johnny was involved throughout the production reviewing the research and screenplay as well as checking through the final edit to make sure he was happy with it.

“One of the interesting aspects of this film is that Johnny provides the entire narrative telling the story in his own words, exactly as it happened.

“Furthermore the visuals effects totally reflect the narrative. The visual interpretation of the narrative really helps the viewer understand and experience the events as Johnny describes them.

“For people who are looking for a historically accurate first-hand account, of what it was like to be a part of the Dambusters operation, brought to life with new visual effects, this film is for them.”

| Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz

| Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz

The characters in the film are mostly digitally reimagined with the help of the CAMERA team at the University of Bath, with some human actors in place to film again green screens at times.

Visual Effects Producer Piotr Forkasiewicz said: “When I first met Andrew in 2015 I could have never imagined that I would be embarking on a journey to create a film that features George “Johnny” Johnson’s Dambusters story.

“As a film and aviation enthusiast I have always had an interest in the Dambusters story. After meeting Johnny in 2017, I could see his part of the Dambusters story has not had so much attention.

“I felt that Johnny’s complete story should be captured in film. It was clear to me there was an opportunity to make a fascinating film and as a visual storyteller I could work on something very special.

“For many years I have worked as a military illustrator, producing mostly still images for the publishing and scale model industry.

“This project has been the greatest challenge of my career, but provided me with an opportunity to significantly expand my skillset and learn many new film production techniques.

“I have been able to take responsibility for not only the asset creation, but the entire visual effects and post production process.”

| Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz

Speaking in July 2019, George Johnny Johnson said of the film: “After all these years I feel a great sense of satisfaction that there is now a film dedicated to the attack on the Sorpe Dam.

“A film that covers the complete story from the time Lancaster AJ-T took off from RAF Scampton to the time the aircraft returned after the operation.

“As the last remaining crew member of Lancaster AJ-T, I feel proud to have been able to represent the men I flew with and to tell the story as it actually happened, in terms of reaching the target, attacking the target and returning home safely.

“Within the broader context of the Dambusters story I am pleased to see a film that helps people understand that there was rather more to the dams raid than the Mohne and Eder dams, although they were of equal importance and just as difficult to attack.

“It has been quite a journey over the past few years to work on the film, I have reflected many times on what actually happened on the night of May 16/17 1943.”

Attack on Sorpe Dam will be given its worldwide premiere in Bristol on Saturday, May 13 before it tours around the UK at select cinemas.

It will be shown twice at Kinema in the Woods in Woodhall Spa on Tuesday, May 16 and Wednesday, May 17 – for those of us in Lincolnshire that want to see the film.

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