See Film Differently: See It In A Marquee In The Grounds Of A Medieval Manor In Derbyshire

Haddon Hall is on the Eastern-most edge of the Peak District, slap bang in the middle of the country. Unless you're approaching it from a city on that side (Chesterfield or Nottingham perhaps) then getting to it involves a fairly perilous trip through the national park, along roads seemingly designed for one man and his ferret. There are more bum-clenching about turns along the road to Haddon than you'd normally find in your average parliamentarians speech to the house on the matter of ethics. What a place then, to hold a film screening.

Assuming you survived the trip on Sunday night, Haddon Hall played host to the latest screening from See Film Differently, the Volkswagen initiative to support British independent cinema. If you're familiar with them at all then it will likely be from the now-surely-due-to-be-retired advert focusing on the fire station used as The Ghostbusters headquarters in, erm, Ghostbusters, which plays before most screenings in independent cinemas up and down the country and which I think I can now quote almost verbatim.

Over the last year or so, they've also been putting on screenings like this, designed to put a focus on to the locations used when a film is shot in Britain. Having been invited along managed to cajole a ticket out of them, the Jane Eyre screening at Haddon Hall seemed like an ideal opportunity to see what was going on and put my distinctly below average photography skills to good use.

The evening started with a tour of the grounds which, if you've seen Jane Eyre (and at this point, I hadn't) you'll recognise as featuring extensively for long periods of the film. What this meant was that there were ample opportunities to take pictures of places where Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska actually stepped, which means that, although at first glance the below picture might look like a mistake, it is actually a masterpiece-level portrayal of an none-existent impression of Fass' Foot.

'Cracking' photography.

After a break for refreshments (Bakewell Bitter and Miniature Lamb Burger with relish; salivate away) the assembled masses were escorted to a marquee in a courtyard located within the walls of the hall. See Film Differently deserve a lot of praise for how this marquee was set up. Not only was it lit to resemble some sort of mildly futuristic space ship but there were comfy seats with good viewing angles of the screen. More importantly than this, someone had gone to the trouble of affixing black cloth to the sides and roof to dim the light that might have come through the white material. Never say that there isn't a place for forward thinking.

Before the film could begin we were informed by the itinerary that we would be treated to some 'introductions'. This was worrying for two reasons. Firstly, that's 'introductions', as in plural, and secondly that's 'introductions' as in 'introductions'.

These are hard feats to accomplish. You've got to either have something to say that justifies you being there holding up the film for any longer than three minutes or you've got to get on and tell us who you are and what the film is and then get off again, rendering your presence rather perfunctory. First to attempt a successful introduction was this gentleman from See Film Differently whose name I might have been able to tell you if I was a proper journalist and had bothered to take a note of it at the time.

See Film Differently Man's introduction spent some time talking about their interest in independent cinema and how they saw it as a way of supporting an important British industry. It's easy to be cynical about this sort of thing (in return for all this the 'VW' logo was all over the place) but really, why would you be? If Volkswagen want to pump money in to British cinema by way of sponsorship and then further publicise releases like Jane Eyre through well-managed screenings like this then great; everyone wins and there's really not a negative side to it. My one slightly-less-than-positive thought at this point regarded the fact that Jane Eyre - a British film, with a largely British cast, a British literary heritage, shot on location in Britain and with British money behind it (the BBC no less) - was being released here some six months after its US release. I wanted to ask See Film Differently Man about his thoughts on this but by the time the screening had finished he had scarpered and I'd probably forgotten my question.

The next introduction was by a lady from Haddon Hall. She talked in glowing tones about how Mia Wasikowska, Dame Judi Dench and director Cary Fukunaga had been fantastic to work with and had lent a touch of Hollywood glamour to the old hall. The only key cast member she neglected to mention was Fassbender so I'm making the largely baseless assumption that he was a bit of a git. The lady from Haddon then went on to talk about the impact of film visits on the Hall's day-to-day running. This really struck a chord, both with me and, it seemed, with the general audience. 'Films like this coming to use Haddon', Haddon Hall Lady said, 'mean that we can pay to replace a broken window'. So, whilst Volkswagen support the film industry, the film industry supports places like Haddon and so the cycle of capitalism comes round to secure our heritage in a rather satisfactory way which I don't think anyone can really grumble at. Perhaps the only other thing that might have been nicer about all this would have been if Jane Eyre had been given a premiere at the house, thus securing it some more publicity and moving some of the film industry glamour out of its central-London location and into the provinces. I'm sure that will happen at some point soon, although perhaps not to Haddon, and when it does it should be another move which is roundly applauded.

Post-screening, guests were imbibed with more alcohol/orange juice and invited to look round an exhibition of film stills with behind-the-scenes annotations, thus giving me a fantastic chance to photograph men in hats with blurry faces as they foiled my attempts to use 'night mode' properly.

A delightful evening ended with my spectacular photograph of the See Film Differently Jane Eyre sign, illuminating the now-dark courtyard.

Ho hum.

Tomorrow: the Film Intel Jane Eyre review

Co-promoted by LOVEFiLM


  1. Wow, must have been amazing to watch that kind of movie in such a beautiful location. Wish all movies would be shown in such a special way! :)

  2. It was a lot of fun, yes. There's a few ways of going about doing this sort of thing now (Secret Cinema in London, Jameson's Cult Cinema did a season not so long ago, a few others around the place) so if you can I'd absolutely recommend it, especially something like this, which transformed just going to the cinema for a couple of hours into an entire film-orientated sociable evening event.