Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen, Rita Ramnani, David R Butler, Samantha Hunt, Francisco Ortiz, Jon Paul Gates, Francisco Ortiz, Jacqui DuBois, Sephora Venites
As shooting for Hedda was due to get underway today, there has been a sudden flurry of media interest in the project from some of the local newspapers and radio stations with in interest in the cast and crew.
It began with the Gloucester Citizen last week. They have an interest in the director, Matthew John, who was born and bred in Gloucester and his parents still live there. And the Citizen was also interested in the fact that Matthew's mother, Jackie, turned her home into a 'sweat shop' with a team of incredibly dedicated and talented people who created all the costumes.
This was followed yesterday by BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Their afternoon presenter, Claire Carter, carried out a live phone interview with Matthew in her show at around 3.45 pm, and joining him for the interview was Lord Benjamin Slade of Maunsel House and Woodlands Manor. Benjamin Slade is the owner of Maunsel House and has given the production free use of the premises to use as the filming location - an investment of his assets that is reckoned to be worth around £250,000.
During the interview, Matthew spoke of his great love for costume drama and how Britain leads the world in productions of the highest quality in this genre. Benjamin told the audience how he leapt at the chance of becoming involved because he's been given the walk-on part of a drunken aristocrat cavorting with courtesans who during a scene drunkenness fires off a couple of pistols. But on a more serious note he explained that he hoped the Hedda production would attract plenty of new tourism to Somerset, people who had seen the film wanting to come and see where it was shot. The film, he believed, would greatly benefit the local economy.
This morning, at the crack of dawn, Tim McSweeney, a reporter from BBC Radio Somerset, came to Maunsel House to do a live outside broadcast of two slots into the breakfast programme, which attracts the highest audience rating of the day. The plan was for him to interview producer Immanuel Mensik and Christine Winter, the actress playing Aunt Juliana, at 7.25 am. This was to be followed by another live slot at 8.25 am with Hedda star Rita Ramnani and Benjamin Slade. Unfortunately, there was a technical problem, and Tim had to record the interviews then rush back with them to the studio. The Rita and Benjamin interview finally went out at around 8.35 am.
Rita spoke about her interpretation of the role of Hedda Gabler while Benjamin, who is clearly a seasoned broadcast performer, repeated his lines from the BBC Radio Gloucestershire interview the day before.
On Sunday, we have a film crew from the British Film Alliance visiting the set. They're making a documentary called "Fires We're Starting" which looks at how British filmmakes overcome the exceptional challenges of these difficult times to bring productions to the screen. They think Hedda is a good illustration of that and will be interviewing cast
Although Ibsen's play Hedda Gabler was published in 1890 and first performed in 1891, he almost certainly had in mind the Oslo (then called Christiania) of his youth, around the 1850s or 60s. This was therefore before the advent of electrical lighting.
Here, lighting director Seb Egan talks about ideas for capturing the right atmosphere for Matthew John's Hedda production, which is set specifically in 1869:
"I was given a challenge and a half of lighting very long shots, maybe shots lasting most of an act, which is a very theatrical idea. So on that, I started to think of how I could realistically light for camera but have a hidden light source or a light that would have been used in that era.
"I'm using oil lamps to create a general atmosphere. This is because they give off the right light for the era of the play. I had the difficulty in choosing between Tilley lamps and hurricane lamps. In the end I went for hurricane lamps as they gave off more light and would burn for a longer amount of time without having to constantly be re-lit (this was tested at university). An example of a Hurricane lamp is shown above.
"I would have also have liked to be using tea lights, and I still might, but, from using them as general candles around the home they are more trouble than they are worth. If I need them they will be considered.
"I then thought of a more general light and I decided to not only go with traditional film lights, but to also use something else. I then thought long and hard about what I was going to do and as I was doing some university work at 2 am for a deadline the next day, there popped into my mind the idea of using pendants suspended from above. This idea must have come from two separate lighting designers doing two completely different shows; Kursk (Hansjorg Schmidt) and Frankenstein (Bruno Poet). I am therefore using 80 Watt Halogen bulbs in multiple pendants. An example of a pendant is shown below."