Shooting a whole film in just one location is a rarity and Firebrand is estimated to have pumped more than £3.1million into the Peak District economy.
Firebrand stars Tomb Raider's Alicia Vikander as Catherine Parr, the final wife of King Henry VIII (portrayed by Jude Law). The film charts Catherine’s torment at the hands of the cruel king and how her iron will helped her avoid the death sentence that befell her predecessors Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
Gabriella Tana, producer for Firebrand said: “To stay in one location throughout the duration of a shoot is highly unusual but given that we had the extraordinary location of Haddon Hall itself, we were able to create our own studio practically within its walls. While the usual process with accommodation tends to see large hotels booked, with cast and crew bussed to the film location, given that we were here for eght weeks it enabled us to take a more wholesome approach, using smaller, independent hotels and properties, which created a continuity for the cast and crew, really allowing them to settle in and focus entirely on the job at hand. Overall, it was a much more enjoyable experience for everyone.
“We really integrated into the local community, with our accommodation, renting cottages and hotel rooms all in the areas surrounding Haddon Hall. We’ve used as much local crew as possible, including lots of trainees, with one of our aims being to help mentor young people who are new to the film industry. Most of the extras used in the film are local, and through each of the departments we have crew members from the surrounding area including Chesterfield, Sheffield and Nottingham. Our catering sourced local produce, we used a local florist for our wrap bouquets, and the cast and crews per diems were spent in the local restaurants and shops.”
“Everyone loved being here: to be in the beauty of the Peak District was a real privilege and made the working experience all the more pleasurable! Our lead actors rented homes near to Haddon Hall, the Rutland Arms was home to the rest of our cast, and the Peacock at Rowsley and H Boutique hotel looked after our crew well. The film will be a wonderful advert for the hall and for the region!
"Having worked in this region before – I shot The Duchess at Chatsworth in 2007 – I know what a boon the film was for the number of visitors to Chatsworth, and I hope the same will happen for Haddon Hall.”
While many of the crew had visited Derbyshire before, the film also brought a lot of newcomers to the area, who have a new-found love for the landscape and its people. Joel Holmes, supervising location manager for Firebrand said: “Everyone, including myself, has fallen in love with this part of Derbyshire. Not only is the landscape outstanding, we got to know a lot of the local businesses and accommodation providers, who really made us feel at home.
“Shooting a film in its entirety in one location is incredibly rare but Haddon offered us everything we needed and more. As a Grade I listed building, it came with some challenges, it was vital that we preserved the building against damage but it was absolutely wonderful to see Haddon transformed back into a specific period of time.”
“This film is also unique in that in the five weeks we were preparing the sets prior to the start of filming, the actors were practising at the hall, as opposed to in an external location. As a character-led piece, the director felt it was key for the cast to immerse themselves in the world of Haddon and it really benefitted the shoot, it fed very much into their performances.”
Brett Wilson, producer of Firebrand, said: “The great thing about Haddon Hall is that it’s one of the most original Tudor/Elizabethan large houses I’ve ever seen. With it being unoccupied during the Georgian and Victorian eras there’s been very little modernisation, so the buildings, gardens and surrounding estate were perfect for a film set in the period we were shooting. The staff were fantastic in helping us keep to the rules of shooting in a Grade 1 listed building and we hardly noticed they were there as they kept their watchful eye on us. All in all it was a great experience and Lord and Lady Edward were fabulous and very helpful hosts.”
“I love Bakewell and the surrounding area and would love to shoot something there again in the future.”
Lady Edward Manners said: “Haddon Hall has been the location of choice for many films over the years but this is the first time we’ve had a film shot here in its entirety and it really stood out to us a unique proposition, particularly with their plans to immerse themselves within the local community during their time here. It’s not only been significant for the hall but also for the local area, which saw an unprecedented level of investment filter out into the economy during a quieter time of year, through the use of accommodation providers, local restaurants, bars and suppliers. In addition, it was wonderful to welcome so many members of the local community as extras, as well as local college students who experienced life on set for a few days as part of their studies.”
“Our team did a magnificent job of working alongside the crew, while also ensuring the hall was protected at all times. It has been truly wonderful to see Haddon taken back in time and we are looking forward to seeing the film when it is released in the UK.”
The date that Firebrand, directed by Karim Aïnouz, will open in UK cinemas is yet to be announced.