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24 September 2014

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Behind The Scenes Production Diary
By Diederick Santer, Jane Eyre Producer

Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as Rochester

Week -1: 20th to 26th February 2006

After several months of script development, and ten weeks of prep, our production of Jane Eyre is about to start filming.

First we must do a recee. Over the next four days, myself, Susanna White (director), Helga Dowie (line producer), Rad Neville (1st assistant director) and all the various crew heads will travel together in a small bus to the locations we plan to shoot.

"All the various crew heads travel together in a small bus to the locations we plan to shoot."
At each place a group of about twenty all get out of the van. Susanna tells us her plans for each scene, and each member of the crew considers the practical problems of the location.

'How do we light it?' 'Is it too noisy?' 'How do we get the trucks in?' 'Is it dangerous?' 'What extra equipment will we need?'

This is a particularly busy time for Helga Dowie, as all the various requests for equipment come to her.

'Can we have a crane on this day?' 'We're going to need to build a 100ft long scaffold rig outside here.' 'The only way in to this location is by tractor.' 'Where will the extras sit?' 'Are we there yet?'

It's late February, and everywhere in beautiful Derbyshire where we've chosen to shoot is freezing. On Wednesday morning, we wake to find snow is falling, and we can't get to all our locations. We'll try again the next day.

Getting the actors

The recce week is when everything suddenly happens. On each show I've produced, most of my energy on the recce is not spent working with the director and line producer on making the locations work - they manage that on their own - but rather on lengthy phonecalls to our casting director and artists' booker working on deals to secure actors for the show.

Why does this always happen when I'm sitting on a bus trying to keep my voice down? Why can't it happen when I'm in an office, with all the figures and dates in front of me? It's because it's not until the recce when the schedule becomes firmed up, and it's not until the schedule is firmed up that we can book the actors.

"While climbing to the top of Stannage Edge, I get a call that Pam Ferris is on board."
We're hoping that the brilliant Pam Ferris will play Grace Poole. It's a great character part, but is in a limited number of scenes. She's keen to play the role, but is in huge demand. We will only get her if we can make her dates compact.

Achieving this depends on certain location dates working out. While climbing from the bus to the top of Stannage Edge [the moors where we find Jane at the beginning of episode 4], I get a call from Thalia Reynolds, artists' contracts, that Pam is on board.

Outside the crypt of Bolsover Castle [the interior of Lowood school chapel, episode 1], Thalia and I discuss accommodation and billing, and to my delight Francesca Annis is confirmed as Lady Ingram.

Stuck to the only spot in the grounds of Ilam youth hostel where I can get a phone signal [exterior of Lowood school, episode 1], I learn that we've got Georgie Henley - star of the recent Narnia movie - for young Jane Eyre. Hooray.

Recces are an utter misery, especially when you've got food poisoning... But the fact that we're putting together such a wonderful cast makes it bearable. And Derbyshire and the Peak District are providing some great locations.

Can't wait to get started.

 Next: Week 0 »

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Diederick Santer

Diederick Santer, Jane Eyre Producer
Diederick previously produced the first three series of Cutting It, and two of the ShakespeaRe-Told dramas, including the Bafta-nominated Much Ado About Nothing.

After Jane Eyre, he's moving on to become Executive Producer of EastEnders.

Production Diary

Read more about the production of Jane Eyre:

Week 14:
5th-12th Jun 2006

Week 13:
29th May-4th Jun 2006

Week 12:
22nd-28th May 2006

Week 11:
15th-21st May 2006

Week 10:
8th-14th May 2006

Week 9:
1st-7th May 2006

Week 8:
24th-30th Apr 2006

Week 7:
17th-23rd Apr 2006

Week 6:
10th-16th Apr 2006

Week 5:
3rd-9th Apr 2006

Week 4:
27th Mar-2nd Apr 2006

Week 3:
20th-26th Mar 2006

Week 2:
13th-19th Mar 2006

Week 1:
6th-12th Mar 2006

Week 0:
27th Feb - 5th Mar 2006

Week -1:
20th-26th Feb 2006

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