The new Hollywood?

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What does Northamptonshire have in common with Hollywood, the movie-making capital of the world?

Not much, you might say, but it seems the county has been enjoying a little taste of fame.

While you won’t find many film studios or movie star mansions here, Northamptonshire has played host to a number of film crews working on big budget productions and looks set to welcome some more well-known faces later this year.

Filming is due to begin on a big screen version of Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, and one of the locations will be Boughton village.

County residents will even have the chance to appear in the film as auditions for extras are taking place tomorrow at the Deco theatre in Northampton.

The new film starring Daniel Radcliffe, The Woman In Black, also came to Northamptonshire to film some scenes.

Cotterstock Hall near Oundle was used for the exterior shots of the film’s haunted house Eel Marsh House.

Cotterstock, which has live-in owners, was transformed for the film by adding overgrown weeds and ivy.

Radcliffe said: “Cotterstock Hall is a remarkable building bursting with Gothic grandeur – perfect for The Woman In Black.

“It is hard to imagine anywhere more apt for that all important first atmospheric sight of Eel Marsh House.”

Director James Watkins, who sent scouts all over the country to find the perfect setting, added: “It had a real vibe about it and it almost looked like it has eyes. I thought it helped create that sense of dread.”

Another location to find itself on film was Holdenby House, where last year’s BBC adaptation of Great Expectations was shot.

A team spent four days working on the exterior of the house to turn it into Miss Haversham’s crumbling home Satis House.

Holdenby owner James Lowther said of the shoot: “It took 80 tons of mud, weeds and creepers up the drive to turn the outside of Holdenby into the decaying Satis House shown in the adaptation.

“With the brilliant job that the BBC props team did, it was a slightly scary reminder of what can happen to a house like Holdenby if you don’t keep up the maintenance!”

Attracting film crews can bring in much-needed investment and gives an area fantastic exposure.

Rob Purdie, executive director of Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, which works to promote the county and attract investment, said: “There is a good opportunity for us in that area. It gives a tremendous high profile to the county.

“When we look at the development of period dramas which is what this country is so good at, there are so many stately homes in private ownership in this county. We have a wonderful array of locations that could be used.

“Filming companies also look for urban locations that can be used, such as warehouses, that we can offer, plus we are only an hour away from London which makes it a short journey from big-name studios such as Earlstree and Pinewood.

“These films when they do start filming over a long period of time here can bring a significant amount of money with the arrival of cast and crew.

“This is certainly something we can see developing over the years.”

Two years ago a campaign was launched, led by the organisation EM Media called the East Midlands Film Friendly Initiative which sought to attract film-making companies to the county.

EM Media has since gone through a re-organisation, but Mr Purdie says there are plenty of opportunities that can be explored.

He said: “When we were at Althorp two years ago we were talking about this representing a significant opportunity for us. Unfortunately the decision to close down regional development agencies has had an impact on the organisation of that and it has taken us a while to work out who to talk to.

“Now we have Creative England and the Arts Council and through our contacts at the Royal & Derngate we are beginning to build that back up.”