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Saltburn: How Hollywood landed in the heart of England

Saltburn: How Hollywood landed in the heart of England

  • Written by Pete Cooper
  • BBC News, Northamptonshire

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'Napoleon', starring Joaquin Phoenix, was filmed across the UK, including Northamptonshire

Saltburn, a black comedy set in 2006, and Napoleon, a biopic of the notorious French leader arriving in cinemas 7 days a week, may not seem to have much in common, but they were both filmed in homes. Luxury accommodation in Northamptonshire is less than 10 miles away. separate. With Brad Pitt also filming his latest film at Silverstone this year, why would Hollywood land in the heart of England?

“People search on Google”

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Napoleon used Boughton House as Bonaparte's palace

Button House, near Kettering, calls itself England's Versailles, so it was no surprise that the producers of Ridley Scott's historical epic Napoleon came calling.

“It takes a tremendous amount of work to have a camera crew come to the house,” says Charles Lester, the home's property manager.

“But it has many rewards – it helps with advertising and generates a lot of income, which can be put towards things like environmental conservation.”

She also appeared prominently in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables, starring Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Hugh Jackman, and Russell Crowe.

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Ridley Scott directed Joaquin Phoenix as the notorious French military commander

On being selected by film producers, Lester says, “It's partly because of word of mouth. We're very fortunate in the county, we have a lot of historic homes and historic places that can generate interest.”

“But it could be as simple as people doing a Google search for a specific period, like a French house in England.”

Jonny Shelton is production liaison manager at Creative UK, which helps film producers find locations across the country, including Napoleon.

He says Boughton House is “one of the best” versions of Versailles and “of French architecture in the UK”.

“It also helps that it is so close to London,” he adds.

The 'secret' house in Saltburn

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Saltburn, set in 2006, was filmed at Drayton House, a Grade I listed house in Northamptonshire.

Saltburn stars Rosamund Pike and Barry Keoghan, is written and directed by Academy Award winner Emerald Fennell and filmed at Drayton House, near Lowick.

Fennell told Vanity Fair that she wanted the location to be somewhere unfamiliar to the audience and where she could shoot both interior and exterior shots.

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Emerald Fennell wrote and directed Saltburn, starring Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi

But the location was picked up by media and social media users when the trailer was released earlier this year.

Unlike Boughton House, Drayton is not open to the public and the owners declined to comment on the Saltburn filming.

In such cases, Mr. Shelton says, producers can find a place they like and “literally knock on the door” to ask to film there.

“Site managers need to have very good communication skills,” he adds.

Movie stars and fast cars

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Brad Pitt stars in the Apple-backed film, which also stars Lewis Hamilton as one of its producers

Every year the British Grand Prix brings joy and glamor to the countryside of South Northamptonshire.

But this year there was even more excitement as Brad Pitt wasn't just there to watch the race at Silverstone, he got into a car and headed to the track to watch a new movie.

The Oscar winner was playing the role of a veteran driver who returns to the grid after a 30-year absence.

The as-yet-untitled film is being produced in collaboration with F1, giving it exclusive access to the racetracks and drivers.

When speaking to sites, Mr. Shelton says he stresses the main advantage is free advertising, but adds, “It's even better, because you'll actually get paid for it.”

He said he spoke to Silverstone earlier this year and that the circuit was “really interested in working with the film and TV sector”.

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The as-yet-untitled film stars Javier Bardem, who was filmed at Silverstone with Brad Pitt

The circuit also features in Disney's documentary series about the Brawn GP and Jenson Button's 2009 Formula 1 world title, which was released earlier this month.

It is presented by Keanu Reeves, who filmed at Silverstone and visited the team's former factory in Brackley, where Mercedes GB's headquarters are now located.

Say no to Netflix

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Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana in the final season of The Crown

The last three series of Netflix's hit The Crown have included an image of Princess Diana, so it made sense for producers to ask to film at her childhood home Althorp, which has appeared in other films and TV shows.

But Earl Spencer, her brother, refused, telling the BBC: “They applied. They wanted to film here. But I don't really do those things.”

“Actually, to be honest, I don't watch The Crown, so I just said, 'Thank you, but no thank you.'

Cars from the 1990s were parked in the street, an abandoned electrical shop was converted into a photography shop, and a local café was used for certain scenes.

“It's great for Northamptonshire,” says Chilton. “Film tourism is huge, bigger than ever.”

“When they film on location, the impact they make is huge. They will spend thousands of pounds a day and that goes into the local economy.”

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