Richard E. Grant and Sarah Brightman star in Manderston film
FORGET the Hollywood hills it's been lights, camera, action in the Berwickshire countryside for the past few weeks with the filming of a new romantic comedy.
The cast and crew of 'Cosi' have been hard at work at Manderston, near Duns, taking advantage of both its interior and famous gardens.
Among the actors who have been shooting this week include Richard E. Grant who plays the lead role of Sir Adam Drummond in the 5 million picture, directed by BAFTA-award winner Chris Menaul.
The film is produced by Stephen Evans who is famous for being at the helm of the likes of 'Henry V' and 'The Madness of King George' and tells the tale of Grant's character, a rich industrialist who aspires to a more cultured world so decides to stage an opera in his lavish country retreat.
And the production team fell for Manderston and decided it was the perfect venue to bring this retreat to life.
Line producer, Selwyn Roberts, is one of the few crew members who has been to Berwickshire before.
He journeyed up to St Abbs 23 years ago to be assistant producer of the 1986 film 'Link' and said he was pleased to be back in the area again.
"Manderston is the most fantastic place.
"The majority of people involved in the film had never been to this neck of the woods before but are understandably very impressed.
"As well as using the backdrop of the front of the house and the gardens we've done a lot of shooting inside too."
The film has had a number of false starts but Selwyn said things are looking good now and he has high hopes for the film which he thinks could be a sizeable box office hit.
"'Cosi' hasn't got the budget to be in the same market as big films like 'Terminator' and 'Transformers' but I think it could surprise a lot of people with its success," he continued.
"It's got a lot of twists and turns and is quite a unique film; it doesn't follow the general patterns of your typical romantic comedy.
"I suppose it could be put in the same bracket as the likes of 'Love Actually' and 'The Full Monty' but at the same time it's a bit different."
What sets 'Cosi' apart from popular British romantic comedies of recent years is the fact that it takes its inspiration from the music of Mozart, chiefly his famous opera 'Cosi Fan Tutte' and one of the film's stars knows a thing or two about opera.
Sarah Brightman, who plays Celia, is no stranger to musicals having starred in the likes of 'The Phantom of the Opera' but she isn't quite so well known for her acting skills.
However, Selywn said that she and her fellow cast members have put in some top drawer performances so far.
"Obviously everyone knows Sarah has a cracking voice but she is excelling with her acting and she is a natural comedienne.
"And there's Mia Maestro from The Motorcycle Diaries who's also a fantastic actress and Nigel Lindsay who has great comic timing.
"Oliver Dimsdale who plays Phillip is another one to look out for."
One person whose day-to-day life has been greatly affected by the filming of 'Cosi' is owner of Manderston, Lord Adrian Palmer, and he said to have a film of this scale shot in Berwickshire is a big coup for the area.
"We've had quite a lot of filming experience at Manderston," he said.
"There's been a number of things shot here over the years. It is still very flattering though that after scouring the country for a suitable location the film company chose us. The producer first contacted me in March and it went from there.
"It's a huge thing for the Borders to have a big film crew here.
"There are 93 cast and crew staying locally which is a great boost to the region's economy.
"I love this part of the world and it has so much to offer. I hope that after seeing the film, tourists realise what a great place it is and will want to come and visit."
The fact that the 'Cosi' production team were so bowled over by Manderston and wanted to use as much of the Edwardian building as possible has meant that Lord Palmer and his family have effectively had their home taken over, meaning that things others take for granted such as sitting down to read the paper or going for a lie down haven't always been possible.
"We've all been up at 5am most days of filming to make sure the house is looking spotless and caretaker Geoffrey Diamond has been amazing throughout.
"There have been days when my wife and I haven't been able to get into our own bedroom or I haven't been able to feed the dogs but at the end of the day we are getting paid to let these people use Manderston as they wish."
As well as being a superb location, something else which makes it very fitting that Manderston was chosen for 'Cosi' is the fact that Lord Palmer's family have very strong ties with music.
"It's the most extraordinary coincidence that Manderston has been chosen as the venue for a film like this. My title originates from the arts and there is still an Earnest Palmer scholarship at the Royal College of Music.
"Another thing is that the lead character in the film Sir Adam Drummond is very much like the man who built Manderston in 1903, Sir James Miller, both of them being very nouveau riche."
Lord Palmer said he hasn't been starstruck by the array of actors and actresses who have walked through his corridors over the past few weeks and in fact has enjoyed chatting to a few of them.
"Richard E. Grant is a great friend of my ex brother-in-law so I've spent some time with him and I've also spoken to Sarah Brightman.
"What I have been very impressed with throughout is the incredible professionalism of everyone involved.
"They are under a lot of pressure and things have been a bit tense at times but they have just got on with their jobs."
Scenes shot at Manderston so far have included a cricket match on the lawn and large crowd scene which required 500 extras to be bused in from Glasgow at five in the morning. A spectacular firework display was also planned for this week.
Selwyn Roberts said filming at Manderston would be wrapped up in the next few days and the film completed around Christmas in time to debut at Cannes Film Festival next year.
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Weather for Duns
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North