Paris? No, Ashridge

Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables
Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables

Scenes for a hotly-anticipated movie opening in cinemas tomorrow were shot in Ashridge Estate – and it’s just the latest movie to make the most of the National Trust estate.

Part of the beauty spot was turned into the outskirts of Paris in midwinter when the Les Misérables film crew covered about 1,000 square metres of woodland with fake snow.

Harvey Edgington, the National Trust’s broadcast and media manager, said: “The crew arrived in late April to shoot in the huge expanse of woodland.

“Once again the estate stood in for foreign countryside, having doubled in the past for Germany, Scotland, France and even Dinotopia as well as being home to the wall that is the border with the magical kingdom of Stormhold in the film Stardust.

“The fake snow is washed away after use and doesn’t have any negative conservation or environmental impacts.

“As well as helping the local economy filming makes a massive contribution to the upkeep of the estate.”

The film is an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, directed by Tom ‘The King’s Speech’ Hooper. Stars include Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

A range of locations were used for the filming, including Northamptonshire’s Boughton House, Winchester College, the Portsmouth naval base and Kent’s historic Chatham dockyard. Only a tiny portion of the action was actually filmed in France.

Ashridge is no stranger to film productions and the forthcoming movie Diana, about the life of the Princess of Wales and starring Naomi Watts also used locations there, as well as in Hemel Hempstead.

The BBC drama Call the Midwife and the adaptation of David Walliams’ Mr Stink, shown over the Christmas holiday, are other recent hits which made the most of local locations.

The film industry is estimated to have contributed £20 million to Hertfordshire’s economy in 2009/10. A major film project may typically spend about £32,000 a day on local employment and services while a TV production will spend up to £19,000 each day.

Dacorum Borough Council has recently become the second of Hertfordshire’s local authorities to enter into a partnership agreement with Creative England, following hot on the heels of St Albans City & District Council.

Under the agreements, Creative England’s locations and production services team for the East of England will become more proactive in promoting locations in the Dacorum and St Albans areas.

New properties will be researched, photographed and featured in regular industry newsletters, with the aim of attracting the attention of location and production managers looking for suitable filming sites.

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