The Wolfman's Supervising Location Manager talks to The Location Guide
There is no denying that Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman had a rocky road to the silver screen, with a change in director just before principal photography, a spiralling budget and reshoots galore stretching over a year and a quarter.
However, reviews have universally praised the fantastic production design of this Pinewood Studios-based remake of the 1941 classic, including some stunning UK locations that have brought the spirit of Victorian horror to brutal, bloody life.
Supervising Location Manager Emma Pill talks to The Location Guide about the whys and wherefores of the period locations.
TLG: Hi Emma, so, The Wolfman has opened and it looks like a winner. Was it hard work?
EP: The first six weeks of this shoot were night shoots and you know as a Location Manager the phone doesn’t stop ringing in the day just because you’re working at night. We needed to get up at dawn and do a full production day, and then be there on set for 7pm when the cast and crew started.
EP: Exhilarating! We had some unbelievable locations in the UK. Chatsworth House (pictured) in Derbyshire speaks for itself. The Black Park Country Park, Wexham near Pinewood, Bourne Woods in Surrey, the village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire, which features as the village close to the estate of the Wolfman’s family, and the beautiful Stowe Gardens in Buckinghamshire. We got about a bit and we only came out at night; well for six weeks anyway. Oh, and we were in London too.
TLG: Tell us about filming in the Big Smoke. Did it lend itself to Victorian times?
EP: We made the decision - what with the incredible chase sequences and wirework - to keep the London scenes out of public areas as much as possible. To do a monumental chase sequence requires time and we found that the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich, and also Middle Temple in Central London, could give us this time without too much disruption. Both these venues were incredibly helpful and obliging. The only place we filmed in London that was open was Carey Street, a public highway. We closed it down on Friday night, put down some cobbles and brought in rain cranes and spinner rigs and all sorts, and were out by Sunday night with everything we needed in the can.
TLG: Tell us about Chatsworth House.
EP: We chose Chatsworth as it was an impressive, imposing mansion and it sits well in the landscape around. This gave us the opportunity to shoot the estate from many angles. Also Chatsworth are well versed in big events, so taking us on was all in their stride. We were supposed to be there for nine weeks, with five weeks prep… but due to the personnel changes on set we ended up with just one shoot week, as Easter was early and the house opens to the public at this time. So all the interiors were built on stages and we cheated some of the smaller garden scenes at Pinewood Gardens.
TLG: The locations in the film are beguiling. Any favourites?
EP: I love the Georgian gardens at Stowe Gardens in Buckinghamshire. I have filmed there before on the Stardust shoot, back in 2006, and it has the largest collection of follies in Europe since the National Trust took over 20 years ago and started restoring them. We shot in the Temple of Venus, which dates back to 1731, which we used as the mausoleum in the film. There is so much scope for filming at Stowe - it’s a remarkable location.
TLG: Did any locations require very little work to get them to where you needed them to be?
Castle Combe is a great period town. There are no overhead cables, no modern touches. All we had to do to get it back to period was cover the road signs and dirty the whitewashes on some houses, as for night shoots the brilliant white would have been too stark. Other than that, it was perfect! Lovely residents too.
TLG: Finally Emma, did you get any help, incentive-wise, with any of the locations?
EP: Nope! When you are filming something like this the only concern is ‘is this right for the production?’ In the UK you are spoilt for choice for period locations, if you know where to look, and so we picked the best places, and I think it shows in the film.
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