Saturday 24th June. 2.00 PM – ‘D’ Stage, Shepperton Studios. Today we see Elizabeth in her tent at Tilbury as she hears the news that the Armada has been engaged by the English fleet.
The exteriors for the Tilbury sequences have already been shot at Brean Down in Somerset but we were unable to film the interiors there so we’ve come back into studio to shoot them today. So why didn’t we just shoot them at Brean? Well, whilst from outside the tent on location appeared perfectly period, inside it was filled with scaffolding and ballast to prevent it being blown away. This was necessary as the Down is a protected site and we couldn’t use tent pegs to fix it to the earth. Instead the whole structure just has to sit, ballasted on the ground.
So we’ve put this huge tent back up on D stage (where the wind isn’t a problem) and dressed the interior in suitably regal style. Of course solving one problem always creates another. As it was windy at Brean we have to mimic the flapping of the tent so Special Effects have had to rig a system of ropes and pulleys to move the whole structure back and forth. Our Director of Photography, Remi, now also has to recreate the blazing sunshine we had on location, streaming into the tent. For this twelve 20 kW lights line one wall, all controlled by a chasing programme to bring them up and down to mimic clouds passing over the sun. This in turn has a knock on effect on the sound department as the buzz from the equivalent of 2400 hundred watt bulbs powering up is in danger of overwhelming Elizabeth’s hushed discussions inside the tent. Still, these problems are as nothing compared to those that faced Elizabeth that day in 1588.