Eastbourne on film
PUBLISHED: 00:16 19 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:42 20 February 2013
The new adaptation of Graham Greene's classic Brighton Rock opens in cinemas this month. Despite its name, much of the filming was done in Eastbourne. Jenny Mark-Bell finds out more about the latest movie and some others that were made in the town
Eastbourne and its surrounding countryside is used to standing in for other places as well as being featured for its own undoubted charms. The latest example of this is the new version of Brighton Rock, starring Helen Mirren, Andrea Riseborough and Sam Riley, directed by Rowan Joffe.
The action moves from the Thirties setting of the classic 1947 movie to the Swinging Sixties.
Eastbournes Film Liaison Unit swung into action as it has for other movies which used the town and its surrounding countryside.
Preparing the seafront for Brighton Rock filming was a gargantuan task, not all of it glamorous. Every blown light bulb along two miles of seafront had to be replaced and any trace of the present day removed, which meant working with Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council Highways Department to remove cars and street furniture.
Annie Wills, Tourism and Communications Manager, says: We had three road closures in all, mostly in the evenings. The road closures allowed people to come and watch the filming, so any negativity was countered by that. Because 161 residents parking spaces were suspended for the duration of filming, alternatives were offered in multi-storey car parks. The Council sent over 1,500 letters to residents.
More than 100 stewards were employed to keep crowds back during filming and look after the cast and crew at their three unit bases in the town and at the International Lawn Tennis Centre, where rooms were hired for cast and extras to change in.
Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism Councillor Neil Stanley says: We were very excited to have so much filming take place here and its down to having such an immaculate and traditional seafront that the filmmakers chose Eastbourne as their base.
The Victorian seafront kept its 60s accoutrements for three weeks, attracting visitors in their droves. On Sunday 25 October, a major stretch of seafront was closed to film scenes of over 100 vintage Lambretta scooters driving up and down past the Pier in glorious sunshine.
Scene set for set-jetter tourists
To minimise disruption to residents and tourists, transformations were made very quickly, says Annie Wills: The signage was changed, bus stops removed and filming was completed, all within12 hours.
With an estimated 10 per cent of visits to the UK attributed to the impact of British films, Eastbourne tourism bosses are hoping to promote the destination to so-called set-jetter tourists. Brighton Rock is just the latest of many pictures to be filmed in the area - Eastbourne even hosted the UK premiere of Notes of a Scandal with Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.
The Quidditch World Cup scenes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were filmed over two days at Beachy Head, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, released in 2008, was set entirely in Eastbourne. Its crew filmed for just over a week at various locations, including along the seafront between the Wish Tower and the Pier, the Bandstand and Holwell Close. After filming in the town concluded, the crews art department borrowed street bins, wheelie bins, recycling boxes and deckchairs to make other filming locations resemble Eastbourne.
Hoping to build on an already impressive portfolio, the towns Film Liaison Unit will meet around 50 location managers this month to showcase the resort. The PR value to the town is enormous, says Annie Wills. We definitely plan to capitalise on the film. We are working on a number of competitions and are hoping to secure an early screening and media launch. We are also producing a location map charting Eastbournes different film successes.
Jenny Cooper is the Film Commissioner for Screen South, the film and media agency for the South East which aims to stimulate and promote the UK film industry. She cites the National Trust as a prime example of how to successfully capitalise on the far-reaching benefits of filming to a local community. The houses used in Pride and Prejudice, for example, get a huge influx of visitors after people are reminded of them by seeing them onscreen. The National Trust often holds exhibitions at the relevant locations to take advantage of this - for example Antony, in Devon, held many themed Alice in Wonderland events after it was used as a location for Tim Burtons 2010 adaptation. Quite apart from the instant income - location fees and money spent by up to150 cast and crew - the exposure creates huge advertising value for a town
Somewhat bizarrely, Brighton Rock seems set to put Eastbourne on the map.