In the below Film Club interview, Freeman also confirmed there was no scripted dialogue, and Isitt explains ‘you get a character, you know who you are and what you’re trying to do in the scene, but nobody’s telling you what to say’:
Isitt later described the process for the Nativity Films during the release of Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger (starring David Tennant), confirming she does write a script, but it’s for her eyes only, and the actors don’t even know how the film ends:
‘I create the story and I write it down, but I never show it to the actors. So the actors improvise their way through the film, making it up as they go along. I know exactly what’s going to happen, but I don’t tell them.’
She also revealed this means that – unlike many films – they have to shoot everything in sequence: ‘So they’re constantly in the dark about what’s going to happen next, we have to film everything in order and they don’t know how it’s going to end until it ends, so it’s very exciting.’
The process clearly works – Nativity! was the most successful British independent film of 2009, and Nativity 2 made twice as much at the box office as the original when it was released in 2012. Isitt is back on the festive beat this year, incidentally, with Netflix British film Christmas on Mistletoe Farm starring Bridgerton’s Katheryn Drysdale.
Marc Wootton is a big fan of Isitt’s process, and believes it adds to a core part of the Nativity films’ message, about finding your inner child and enjoying being in the moment, something he saw in abundance working with so many children during filming.