Filming for star-studded film Tulip Fever took over Norwich Cathedral a few years ago, and with the film scheduled for release - in August this year – we chat to Philip Thomas, the Cathedral Estates Manager, about the Cathedral’s popularity as a movie location and what happens when film crews invade!
Image: the Cathedral cloisters during filming for Tulip Fever, photo by Paul Hurst
We like to think we are Film Friendly providing the subject matter is appropriate and that we can make the filming work around the day to day business of worship, and repairs.
We get approached around once a year for major filming. Often a location manager will come and see us, but ultimately the director has the say which location is used, so often it does not come to anything or the dates won’t work. Sometimes they are long periods without any approaches, other times a few enquiries. We were approached about the Avengers film but had to decline as we already had Tulip Fever booked in. So we have had three films in the last ten years (Dean Spanley, Jack the giant Slayer, & Tulip Fever).
It can be exciting when the place is full of crew and equipment. There must have been a couple of hundred people on site when Warner Brothers filmed here. You are very aware that it is a costly business and that you don’t want to be standing in shot at a crucial moment. It is all very professional with a hierarchy through the departments all answerable to the director, and it is clear that you don’t approach the actors on set. Some are friendly when off duty.
Some of the choral scholars managed to get parts as extras in Jack the Giant Slayer and the Girls Choir were used in Tulip Fever.
The actors tend to be shuttled to and fro by car to the unit base. I think the clergy got the opportunity to meet Dame Judy Dench.
The crew tend to stay and eat out locally which is very good for the local economy. The location department sorts this out themselves, although they are always keen for tips about good restaurants.
Norwich has played host to film crews several times over the years - a few notable projects included Jack and the Giant Beanstalk (Norwich Cathedral), Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (City Hall), Dean Spanley (Norwich Cathedral), Star Dust (Elm Hill), and 45 Years (various locations around Norwich including Magdalen Street).
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