There’s a story about my parents attending my year 4 parents evening. The new teacher talked about how I was doing with my times tables and spelling tests etc, and then there was a long pause. “She’s got a very vivid imagination” she said, apparently rather hesitantly. “She entertains us all with stories of her pretending to play with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and Angela Lansbury”. My parents were mortified, they hadn’t mentioned to the school that St Clere was being used as a location for an Agatha Christie movie, The Mirror Crack’d.
In fact my memories of that film shoot are entirely based around the hair and make up department. My sisters and I were much more interested in sitting in the swivel chairs having flowers plaited into our hair than we were in the big stars, frankly we had no idea they were big stars. But however young and innocent we were, we could feel there was something magic happening.
Now I’m all grown up, I am still ridiculously excited when we have filming at St Clere. We’ve been lucky enough to have a variety of shoots; filming, documentaries, stills shoots etc. From Food Network (my favourite of which was when they turned our kitchen into a Christmas grotto for a sunny week in September and baked hams and roasted turkeys) to Al Jazeera (all about the Sykes-Picot line; the french flag flew over St Clere for the first and last time ever). Our kids had to get used to coming round corners to find ‘entrails’ dolloped on the floor or decapitated mannequins piled up on the stairway when the thriller; Road Games, moved in for a few weeks during a summer holiday. We all watched, transfixed, as very unexceptional looking girls turned into beauties as the director of photography worked his magic for Net a Porter. Watching the Foxes music video being made gave us all a brain worm of their song ‘Cruel’ for months after (and clearly others suffered the same fate as the video has been seen 3 million times on youtube).
I usually get unbelievable feedback from parting film crews; Martin and the team are exceptionally good at problem solving and unsticking stuck things which makes them worth their weight in gold when you’re looking at getting so much done in a limited time and for a limited budget. I think it’s fair to say that when the crew de-rigs and head home, they are left with the same feeling about St Clere that I get about life on a film set; there’s a bit of magic in the air.