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24 September 2014

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

Jane Eyre clapperboard used for first scene recorded

Week 1: 6th to 12th March 2006


A full cooked English breakfast at 7am - that's how the filming day begins. We're in the car park of Haddon Hall, the amazing mediaeval castle in Derbyshire which is the home of Lord Edward Manners. In our drama it's Thornfield, home to Lord Edward Rochester. It's a beautiful place, and we soon overrun it.

After months of planning, it's exciting to be here and finally get going. Ruth Wilson, the fantastic newcomer who will be playing Jane Eyre, and the talented and charming Toby Stephens (Rochester) are on set, and we're starting with one of their big scenes from episode 1.

"The 1st Assistant Director has spent the last few weeks putting together a hugely detailed schedule featuring every one of the nearly 400 scenes in the drama."
Scheduling is a complex art. Taking all the scenes that make up four hours of period drama and arranging them into a shooting order that takes into consideration cast and location availability, daylight hours, story order and all the various costs is an enormous task.

In addition to planning the shoot with Susanna, 1st Assistant Director Rad Neville has spent the last few weeks putting together a hugely detailed schedule featuring every one of the nearly 400 scenes in the drama, each of the 50+ characters, and running over 71 shooting days, through into early June.

Risky strategy

Conventional wisdom dictates that it's best to begin a shoot with some minor scenes that come halfway through the story. This way, if the scenes turn out to be not so good, they will be surrounded by stronger scenes and the early mistakes won't be exposed.

On this shoot, however, Susanna and Rad have scheduled the first three days with three massive scenes from episode 1 which show Rochester and Jane's first meetings. It's a risky strategy - if the scenes are weak and tentative, then the first episode could be compromised. But the actors love it - it means they can act their way into their characters; they can find out who they are through their first scenes together.

"With the rain still pouring down, we pump the valley full of fog for Jane and Rochester's first meeting."
On the third day of the shoot we are filming in a valley along the river Dove (called Dovedale). It's a beautiful spot near Ashbourne, very popular with walkers and sightseers. It's been raining for days and the entire valley has turned into a mudbath.

With the rain still pouring down, we pump the valley full of fog and set up for Jane and Rochester's first ever meeting.

Mud, cold, horses, fog, dogs, and rain beating down on us all day. Ruth, Toby and crew do brilliantly. Despite the conditions, the scene looks brilliant. Dramatic, romantic, exciting.

Making Snow

There's more special effects work the next day when we are at Ilam Youth Hostel shooting young Jane's arrival at Lowood School. The special effects team spray a massive area with white foam. It looks like snow - cold and forbidding, the perfect frosty welcome to the awful school. It costs a fortune! The audience will see snow, I just see foamed money.

It's the first day for young Georgie Henley, fresh from her success in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. At ten years old, her talent, concentration and temperament are astonishing. And what's more, she looks just like Ruth Wilson. She's perfect.

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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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