22 April 2008
It was kept low key, but Life on Mars and Dr Who star John Simm, fresh from a stint the previous evening at the Baftas, was among three famous names from the world of film and television in Cromer yesterday.
Internationally-famous director Michael Winterbottom, the man behind crime series Cracker and films such as Jude, 24 Hour Party People, 9 Songs and A Cock and Bull Story, and, actress Shirley Henderson, of Trainspotting and Harry Potter fame, were also at the town’s high school for a day of filming.
They were part of a team creating an intended Channel 4 production called Seven Days, unusual in that it is being put together in short stints over a five-year period and is not due to be released until 2012.
The story charts the relationship between a man imprisoned for drug-smuggling, played by Simm, his wife, played by Henderson, and their four children.
After filming had finished for the day, Mr Winterbottom told the EDP a little about the plot of Seven Days and also revealed he owns a house in Norfolk, although he was reluctant to reveal where.
“John and Shirley play two people living in Norfolk with four children and John is in prison for about four and a half years,” said Mr Winterbottom.
“We have already filmed at Brixton Prison and Norwich Prison and here in Cromer we have set the school hall up as a prison visitor centre.
“I live here in Norfolk some of the time, so it is nice and easy for me to work here,
“Norfolk is very beautiful, we filmed about half of Cock and Bull here and half in the Midlands and the crew much preferred being here in Norfolk.
“And you never know, Screen East might finally give us some money towards a film if we carry on coming here!”
Explaining why the film was being shot over such a long period of time, Mr Winterbottom said: “It is to help bring reality to the ages of the children as they grow up.
“Why make it in six weeks and fake the ages, which can be very frustrating? Having said that, it is proving quite hard work, but the challenge is enjoyable.”
Simm signed autographs and spoke to students, including Georgia Gray, Daisy Knights, Chloe Guthrie and Harley Malin, in the school corridor after filming, but did not speak to the EDP.
Henderson was happy to speak, however, and described Seven Days as “a love story in which we discover the plot as we film”.
“We have had great fun here in Cromer and it has been a good day,” she added.
Headteacher Glyn Hambling revealed that he had been offered a part in the film, playing a prison guard. “Revolution Films came to us about a week ago asking if they could use the school as a location,” said Mr Hambling.
“We were more than happy to oblige as we are pleased to open our doors and facilities to new and interesting subjects. And the revenue will go to the student development committee of the school council.
“I even got offered a part as a prison guard, which was a bit of typecasting I think! But I couldn’t do it because of meetings.”
The Seven Days crew will move on to other Norfolk locations for the rest of the week. Although none have been specifically named, it is understood several different places will be used between Cromer and Fakenham.