Everything was in place for a red carpet premiere of a film shot in Dorset about one of the county's best known figures.

But coronavirus struck and Lawrence After Arabia, a low budget film passion project of director Mark Griffiths, had its moment in the spotlight put back - and then put back again.

The film's red carpet premiere at the Lighthouse, Poole, has been postponed to March 5, 2021 and will go on general release in the middle of April 2021.

Lawrence After Arabia focuses on the events that led up to Lawrence of Arabia’s death following a motorcycle accident near Bovington Camp on May 13, 1935.

It was due to have its premiere at Lighthouse Centre of the Arts in Poole on the 80th anniversary of TE Lawrence’s death on May 19, 2020 and was to be screened at venues across Dorset because of the huge local interest in the making of the movie.

The screenings were put back to September of this year because of the coronavirus lockdown and, then, in Mark's words: 'It was covided again."

Making the film, which has big star name Brian Cox of TV's Succession fame as its narrator, has been a long-term ambition of first-time film director Mark.

Raised in the West Midlands, Mark dreamt of going to drama school but because of the expense, instead graduated with a degree in computer science.

It was while spending numerous summer holidays in Dorset staying with his grandparents that a young Mark's fascination with TE Lawrence emerged. When Mark visited St Martin's Church in Wareham and saw war artist Eric Kennington's life-sized effigy of his storied friend Lawrence, he knew it was a story he wanted to tell.

Just getting the film made and released in the first place has been an uphill struggle, Mark said. "It is very, very difficult to get any independent film to go into cinemas. Studios won't take a risk on these kind of films and they're obsessed with doing sequels."

But Dorset filmgoers' desire to see a biopic on Lawrence of Arabia was strong, Mark said, with more than half of the pre-release screenings of the film sold out for its planned showing in May.

And the critics have got behind Lawrence After Arabia too, with it winning Best Director and Best Feature Film awards at the Kosice International Film Festival and scooping an award at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

"I'm running out of space to put all the laurels on the film poster!" Mark jokes.

The easy option would have been to forgo the cinema release of the film and instead just release it straight to home streaming platforms, Mark said.

"I could have done that - it would make its money on streaming pay as you go but I felt that it should get a proper release.

"With this way, the cinema release, the only person missing out is me. I've made this movie and it all started with me as a little boy going into that church and seeing the Lawrence of Arabia effigy."

So next year that little boy will see his dream come true and Lawrence After Arabia will get its red carpet premiere and general cinema release.

It is even hoped that - if he can find time in his schedule - Brian Cox and his wife Nicole Ansari Cox, who also stars in the film, will be able to attend the premiere.

"Brian's a Golden Globe winner now! He's very busy with Succession and does about four film projects a year,"Mark said.

"It would be fantastic though if he could come, I think my ultimate dream is to be on a transatlantic flight with Brian and Nicole and for them to be watching Lawrence After Arabia film on the in flight film system!"

After its general release in mid-April 2021, Lawrence After Arabia will be available on pay per view in mid-May and will be released for streaming in June or July 2021.

Seeing the fruits of his labour on the big screen will be a satisfying moment for Mark, who has overcome a number of problems to see the project completed.

Star Trek star William Shatner recorded a voice over for the movie as Lowell Thomas, the North American publicist of T.E. Lawrence, then withdrew his approval for the use of the recording.

It was also a struggle to get permission to film at Cloud's Hill near Bovington, the former home of TE Lawrence, which is now owned by the National Trust.

"We spent 10 hours filming at Clouds Hill," Mark said. "One of the challenges was that it's right by the main road and we had heavy tanks going past, drowning out all the lines. In the end we took the video and dubbed the sound over it."

It took 20 days of intensive filming and six months of post production to put Lawrence After Arabia together.

Most of the crew were local to Dorset, with Mark using Poole agency DP Talent to recruit his extras

The most pleasant surprise of the entire production was how well the cast and crew gelled, Mark said.

"I was very keen to have a Dorset-based crew, it was all very serendipitous how it came together.

"Everyone built strong relationships and knew what they needed to do."

Kirsten Sare, head of hair and make-up on the production, is originally from Weymouth and has previously worked on Broadchurch and did a film with Julian Fellowes' son Peregrine.

She said: "I loved working on this film. It was hard work, but there was so much team work going on. We have all become really good mates.For me working with people trained in TV and film made all the difference."

Behind the scenes Mark, who spends most of the year living in France, is busy adding extras for Lawrence After Arabia's 2021 release. He has put together a 'Making of' special about the film for Film 4 and has produced a music video with Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band fame singing the soundtrack.

If Lawrence After Arabia does make a profit then he will donate two per cent to charity. His next film project will also be based in Dorset, he says, and will focus on the county in the Victorian era, 1880.

"I love Dorset, I think of Dorset as my adopted county," he said. "The support in Dorset for the film has been amazing."

*Screenings for Lawrence After Arabia in 2021 have been confirmed for the following venues with some dates still to be announced. Red carpet premiere at Lighthouse, Poole's Centre for the Arts on Friday, March 5 and screening on Saturday, March 6; Rex Cinema Wareham on Tuesday March 9 and Wednesday March 10; Digby Hall Sherborne on Friday, March 12; Corn Exchange, Dorchester, two screenings on Saturday, March 13; Regent Centre, Christchurch on Wednesday March 17; Electric Palace, Bridport on Friday March 19.