Top movie stars heading for Duns

TOP British movie stars Dominic West and Rebecca Hall will be calling Berwickshire their home for the next few weeks, as the region provides the backdrop for 'The Awakening', an Edwardian ghost story which promises to be one of the most exciting and original films of its type since The Sixth Sense.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 14th July 2010, 11:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2010, 11:53 am

Dominic West shot to stardom in the hit television series The Wire, and Bafta-winning actress Rebecca Hall's work to date includes Vicky Christina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon, and the first of the Red Riding trilogy.

'The Awakening' also features Oscar-nominated Imelda Staunton, who played Dolores Umbridge, one of Harry Potter's teachers in the hit series, and won a Bafta best actress award for Vera Drake.

Filming was due to start this week at undisclosed locations in the region, and will move to Manderston in mid August.

Sign up to our daily Berwickshire News Today newsletter

Rosie Ellison, film liason manager with Edinburgh Film Focus, the council-funded office which promotes Edinburgh, Lothian and the Borders as film locations, helped producers find the perfect locations for the film to be shot.

She explained: "For the last couple of years we've been helping them look at potential locations. The brief has changed a lot over that time but we have got some fantastic properties in the Scottish Borders, and fortunately for us, even after all the changes to the brief, they still felt that the Borders had all they were looking for.

"This film has been a couple of years in planning but in the last four months it has really picked up pace and they start filming in the Lothians and Borders this week."

Rosie confirmed that the stars and crew of 'The Awakening' are staying locally, near Duns, and said that the filming would bring substantial economic benefits to the region.

"There's a lot of investment in accommodation in the area so we are really pleased," she said.

And With Scotand's economy reportedly raking in up to 1billion thanks to a roaring trade in 'set-jetting', Berwickshire could benefit hugely from the project.

Produced by David Thompson, whose Origin Pictures developed the project with BBC Films, 'The Awakening' will be the debut feature of Nick Murphy, who previously shot Edwardian Country House at Manderston House. "The director has filmed there before so he knew it already," Rosie explained.

"They're using the kitchens again, which were used in Edwardian Country House, and the basement area."

StudioCanal Features are the lead financier of the project, alongside BBC Films and public film agency Scottish Screen (now creative Scotland), who have put up 300,000, its maximum investment under current rules.

"We're so pleased that Scottish Screen was able to invest," Rosie commented. "They have to make sure they are investing in Scotland so they must have confidence in the project.

"You never know how things will go, but this is a really good story from the script we have read."

Written by Nick Murphy and Stephen Volk, 'The Awakening' is set in 1921 in a post-war world of loss, and tells the story of Florence, who has been devastated by the death of her fianc.

Many women who lost loved ones in the First World War turned to spiritualism, but Florence believes it is a con and uses scientific inquiry to expose the truth, establishing a name for herself as a psychic detective.

When a pupil is found dead at Rockwood, a remote boarding school rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a dead boy, Florence accepts an invitation to investigate.

After uncovering various secrets, she concludes that the ghost was nothing more than a schoolboy prank. She is getting ready to leave when suddenly something happens to undermine her entire belief system.

The film has a total budget thought to be in the region of 3m, and has caused considerable excitement in the industry.

One insider said: "The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological-supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others, but with a unique and thrilling twist and a heart-breaking climax."