Yesterday we visited Elstree Studios to record an interview with actor Simon Pegg - star of the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises.
We had a great time talking about the filming of The World's End - the final film in the unofficial "Cornetto trilogy" - which was made locally in Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, and used Elstree Studios for the studio based filming. Three pub interiors were recreated on the stages at Elstree, including the titular pub at the climax of the film.
Simon also worked on a new film, still yet to be released, called Man Up at the studios. A recurring theme for Simon appears to be the filming of scenes set in toilets at Elstree - he's filmed three so far! We joked that he should convince JJ Abrams to film a Death Star toilet scene at Elstree with Simon as the Stormtrooper attendant - after all, it wouldn't be a "true" Star Wars film if it didn't have at least...
This week the trailer for Howard Berry's documentary for the centenary of filmmaking in Borehamwood and Elstree went online. From Borehamwood to Hollywood: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Elstree tells the story of the studios in the two towns from the opening of Neptune Studios in 1914 right through to the present day success stories of the BBC Elstree Centre and Elstree Studios.
Topics include the silent film era, Hitchcock's "Blackmail", the fires at British and Dominions and EMI Elstree Studios, the arrival of commercial television, Lew Grade's ATV and ITC Entertainment, ABPC, Stanley Kubrick, EMI Films, Danziger's New Elstree Studios, The Gate Studios, MGM-British Studios, the financial slump of the early 1970s, the arrival of LucasFilm, The Muppet Show, Star Wars, the BBC and EastEnders, the closure of Elstree Studios and the S.O.S. campaign and the rescue by Hertsmere Borough Council, recent successes including Big Brother, The Worlds End and Strictly Come Dancing.
Interviewees include cast, crew...
On April 17th, The Elstree Project team, including Paul Welsh MBE and Bob Redman from Elstree Screen Heritage, and Howard Berry, Kim Akass and three students from the BA (Hons) Film and Television programme in the School of Creative Arts, spent a day filming at both Elstree Studios and BBC Elstree Centre with actress Barbara Windsor MBE.
The morning was spent recording links and voice-over narration for a new documentary, commissioned by the BFI, for the centenary of filmmaking in Borehamwood this year. The documentary, titled From Borehamwood to Hollywood, has been written and directed by Howard Berry, Senior Lecturer in Post-Production, and features exclusive interviews with Sir Roger Moore, Walter Murch, Steven Spielberg, Christiane Kubrick, Brian Blessed and a large number of crew members from productions in the studios of Elstree and Borehamwood. The School of Creative Arts research department and Media Research Group have been supporting the production of the film, in partnership with Elstree Screen Heritage.
We're progressing well with the centenary celebratory documentary, From Borehamwood to Hollywood.
Last week we confirmed an interview with the Senior Curator of Silent Film at the BFI and also the possibility of including clips from some very early silent films from Neptune Studios.
We have contacted several cast and crew members from productions made at the studios of Elstree and Borehamwood, with a request for them to participate in the documentary and also be part of The Elstree Project and give us an interview.
The film also now has a page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), with potential cast and crew information. To find out more visit the page we have created for the film, here....
Yep, you read that correctly! We are into production on a very special documentary - celebrating the centenary of filmmaking in Elstree and Borehamwood. The film will be called From Borehamwood to Hollywood: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Elstree.
We are aiming for a 90-minute film, which will tell the story from the opening of the first studio in 1914 to the present day. Content will include interviews filmed for The Elstree Project, but we will also be specially filming additional material exclusively for this documentary.
We are also planning to have a very special person provide the narration for us. So watch this space for news and updates, and we are going to dedicate the middle blog section on the front page to news about the film and its progress.
Our release date is September 2014, so we have a lot to do!
Here's a nice mid-week treat for you all - a five minute excerpt from our interview with Walter Murch.
Walter directed Return to Oz for Disney at Elstree Studios in the early 1980s. Michael Sundin, who was the World Trampolining Champion at the time, was cast to perform as Tik-Tok - actually physically operating the robot character from inside. In this clip, Walter recalls quite what Michael had to go through in order to be able to perform as Tik-Tok, including standing with his head pointing between his legs, his arms back to front and walking while watching himself on a TV monitor!
During the filming, the BBC's flagship children's show Blue Peter visited the set and filmed a profile about Michael. This subsequently led to him becoming the 14th Blue Peter presenter. Michael sadly died in 1989.
For a while we've been thinking of ways of saying thank you to our interviewees and close supporters, and we came across the idea of giving each interviewee a "welcome pack" when they agree to be interviewed - telling them about the project, the history, aims, who else we've met etc. - and also a "thank you pack" after we finish filming with them.
To go with the latter, we thought it would be a nice touch to give each interviewee a pin badge, so - with thanks to the help and support of UH Arts and Paul Upson - we've just received a whole bunch of lovely badges!
Let us know what you think in the comments below!...
We are preparing a fourth Elstree Film Season with UH Arts. Starting in February, we are screening three films all having a special anniversary during this centenary year for Elstree and Borehamwood.
The films are:
A Shot in the Dark - 50th Anniversary Screening
Murder on the Orient Express - 40th Anniversary Screening
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes - 30th Anniversary Screening
We will publish dates closer to the season beginning, and be sure to look out for UH Arts' Spring events guide....
What a year 2013 has been for the project. We have done so much, it's easy for us to forget some of our achievements, so we thought the best way to remind ourselves would be in a neat and tidy blog post!
We started the year with hits already increasing rapidly on our short 17-minute film Staircases to Nowhere: Making Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'. We'd screened it in October at our first film season, and it had become an unexpected hit for us.
In February, we visited the village of Letchmore Heath to make comparison shots between the scenes filmed for Village of the Damned in 1959. We also visited Edgwarebury Manor and filmed shots of the building as it has appeared in countless Elstree productions including Danger Man, Department S, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and A Clockwork Orange.
We released both short films in March, as part of our second Elstree Film Season....