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Although landlocked in the middle of the East Midlands, Nottingham boasts a huge range of looks and settings. Everything from grim industrial brutalism to idyllic fields and pastures and let’s not forget the world famous Sherwood Forest.
This list uses data from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) to compile, in order of popularity, an in-depth list of all the films shot (either partially or fully) in Nottinghamshire.
Everything from the largest franchised Hollywood blockbuster to low budget social realism indie films have all chosen to make Nottingham their filmmaking home.
The Dark Knight Rises
Year of release: 2012 Film/video production company: Legendary Entertainment
This is the biggie on this list of course. This film famously used our very own Wollaton hall as Batman’s Wayne Manor. If you visit though, which I did recently – you’ll find a distinct lack of Batman-esque regalia. I chatted to one of the staff and they said it was down to a clause in the contract with the studio behind the film. Still, can’t have harmed the publicity for the place.
Many people were cast locally as extras to film overnight with pay rumoured to be a crisp £130 for turning up and additional cash if you needed your hair cut, had any lines to say, had any physical action or were given a weapon to hold (!).
Although made with Hollywood money the film features a plethora of British talent. Director Christopher Nolan who wrote the screenplay alongside his brother Jonathan both hail from the UK. As do many of the principal cast including Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine.
If you live in Nottingham you might have seen signs for Gotham – this is a small village with a population of a couple of thousand people rather than the dystopian fantasy city however!
A few morsels of movie magic about The Dark Knight Rises
Actor Tom Hard who plays Bane in the film went on record to say he was overwhelmed shooting the movie’s fight scenes. Not because of the physical effort involved but because, as a fan of Batman from childhood, he was basically beating up his own hero!
When speaking about her role as Catwoman for the film, Anne Hathaway recalls how her agent rang her after the audition. He asked her if she was sitting down and she assumed she’d got the part and began running around the room with excitement – only to be told she was hosting the Oscars instead. She later had a phone call to say she’d been given the part in Batman too.
Despite the character being known as Catwoman the word is never spoke in the film. She’s referred to in newspaper clippings and police files as The Cat instead.
Marion Cotillard was so good for the role that she was cast despite being pregnant at the time and filmed her role just after giving birth. Director Christopher Nolan made space on set for her family. The actress also short another film in the same time too!
The Dark Knight Rises references many Bond movies. In particular the opening sequence is reminiscent of Licence to Kill.
Year of release: 2008 Film/video production company: Vertigo Films
Talking of the above – Tom Hardy who played Bane got his break years earlier with a violent prison-drama Bronson. Despite being mostly set in London this film was shot all over the place in various jails around the country including Stanford Hall which stood in for Broadmoor prison (don’t tell the owners). The filmmakers also used St Anne’s, Sherwood in Nottingham and Worksop in greater Nottinghamshire for the film.
This is perhaps the least stylised of any of the director’s films. Unlike his latter productions – Drive, Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon and Valhalla Rising which were remarkable for their use of slow motion, vibrant colour palettes and dizzying sound design Bronson is more naturalistic.
A few choice trivia tidbits about Bronson
The film’s director Nicolas Winding Refn never met the eponymous Bronson in person. As a foreigner he was unable to visit with a British prisoner but he had 2 phone calls with him. Bronson wasn’t allowed to even see the film made of his life until years later in 2011. He said it was “theatrical, creative & brilliant”. He was also very impressed with how Tom Hardy took on his muscular physique and mimicked his voice very well.
In a case of art and life intermingling Charles Bronson buddied up with the infamous Kray Twins in Parkhurst Prison. Incidentally, Tom Hardy would go on to play not one but both of the Kray twins in the 2015 film Legend.
This Is England
Year of release: 2006 Film/video production company: Warp Films
This coming of age flick from Shane Meadows, a director born in Uttoxeter but calling the fair city of Nottingham his home. The setting is fictional but the production used many Nottingham locations. These include RAF Newton for the abandoned houses which get trashed early on in the film. Ewe Lamb Lane was also used for the cornershop in the film. Church Square in Lenton was the underpass where the main character first meets the gang of misfits he becomes friends with. Limmen Gardens was where the protagonist Shawn Fields (a pun on the director’s own name) resides. He was played by then-newcomer Thomas Turgoose.
The film is also known for spring-boarding many local Notts actors into the limelight including Vicky McClure who went on to star in tv programmes such as Line of Duty and Broadchurch being joined by Joseph Gilgun who’s starred in E4’s Misfits, Netflix’s Preacher and the film Pride.
Turgoose himself has gone on to star in Kingsmen: The Golden Circle, The Scouting Book for Boys and another Meadows-helmed flick Somers Town
Many of these actors & actresses were protégés of the Bafta winning Television Workshop and were joined on screen by more established talent such as Stephen Graham a stalwart of British screen talent know for everything from Snatch, Band of Brothers, Gangs of New York and UK indie favourite The Damned United. Frank Harper also places a minor role as the leader of a neo nazi organisation – Harpers’s also known for Twenty Four Seven, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Bend It Like Beckham.
Year of release: 2011 Film/video production company: The Bureau
Described as ‘perfectly realised’ by the New York Times, Anthony Haigh’s film was shot around Nottingham Railway as well as along Carrington Street. Nottingham accounted for the entire shooting of the film in a mere 16 days by a skeleton crew of between 10-15 people (usual film crews are generally 40+ strong) This romantic drama film concerns Russell – played by Tom Cullen – meeting a new lover in a nightclub and their time together.
For the more technical amongst you the film was also notable for being one of the first theatrical-release feature films to be shot on the, as of then, new piece of kit Canon 5D Mk2 which is a DSLR camera primarily used for taking still images. This heralded a new wave of films using lightweight technology and minimal artificial lighting in a trend reminiscent of the French New Wave movement of the 1960s.
Year of release: 2007 Film/video production company: Becker Films
This Ian Curtis biopic stars Sam Riley as the troubled Joy Division frontman as well as – incidentally – Notts born & bred actress Samantha Morton. Toby Kebbel also had a part who is well known to fans of Nottingham cinema as playing Anthony in Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes.
The movie is notable for being the first feature-length outing by Anton Corbijn who’s background was in art-led video shorts and work for music acts such as Depeche Mode, U2 and Joni Mitchell.
Oranges & Sunshine
Emily Watson stars in this 1980s drama which is both set and filmed in Nottingham. It’s based on true events and was an international co-operation in terms of production between British and Aussie production companies.
Spiderman: Lost Cause
Year of release: 2014 Film/video production company: Digitalheart
This fan film was produced entirely in and around the East Midlands including Leicester, Rothley and other various parts of Leicestershire as well as Nottingham itself. With previously unknown talent Joey Lever both starring in and directing the tribute to the popular franchise which was made for a mere £7000. It’s had over 25 million hits and is available to watch in its entirety here
Year of release: 2009 Film/video production company: Milkshake Films
Footballing saga goal took the franschise to the sunny glens of good ol’ Nottingham for their third outing. Filmed over 2 months in locations which included Nottingham’s Market Square and Derby Road. The film featured cameos by English footballing greats David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Year of release: 1998- onwards Film/video production company: Mentorn
This was the classic smashing crazy extravaganza of machines versus… More machines! It was filmed at RAF Newton with the audience shielded from the chaos by bullet proof glass.
Originally hitting viewers with a clash of metal on metal in 1998 it ran for 6 years until 2004.
It returned to screens in 2016 with presenter Craig Charles passing the torch onto comedian Dara O Briain to host.
Mum & Dad
Year of release: 2008 Film/video production company: Film London
This grisly drama from director Steven Sheil is about a truly dysfunctional family – not for the faint hearted. This film production was all shot in 18 days with an average of 27 shots a day with a script which was written in just 4 weeks. The house where much of the action takes place was an amalgamation of 5 different locations.
It was a joint collaboration between now-defunct EM Media, 2AM Films who have a long history of funding UK independent films and talent incubation scheme Film London.
Bunny And The Bull
Year of release: 2009 Film/video production company: Screen Yorkshire
This trippy comedy-drama from director Paul King was shot entirely in Nottingham. It involves Stephen who suffers from agoraphobia.
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
Year of release: 1962 Film/video production company: Woodfall Films Productions
This 1962 classic based upon bonafide Nottingham literary legend Alan Sillitoe’s novel was brought to life by director Tony Richardson. Shot in and around Sussex as well as the county of Nottinghamshire we all know and love. This was the film debut ofTom Courtenay may be familiar to viewers of Dads Army (the movie version) 45 Years, and TV series Unforgotten. He’s also got another screen outing The King of Thieves coming later in 2018.
Director Tony Richardson notes that Courtenay wasn’t a fan of the films aesthetic to begin with and they had some clashes in the filming process but the now-veteran actor has come to appreciate his working style.
Saturday Night & Sunday Morning
Year of release: 1960 Film/video production company: Woodfall Film Productions
Another nod for Alan Sillitoe with this film based on his novel of the same name. This is a fairly bleak glimpse into Nottingham’s industrial heritage. A blazing example of British New Wave cinema and a seminal piece in terms of the history of social realist ‘kitchen sink’ film. This was one of the first cinema screen outings for theatre-maestro Albert Finney. The performer has gone on to grace the screen in a smorgasbord of British films including James Bond caper Skyfall, The Bourne Legacy, Traffic, Erin Brockovich and the Coen brother’s Miller’s Crossing.
Best Laid Plans
Year of release: 2012 Film/video production company: Moli Films
This film production is a drama from director David Blair based loosely around the classic Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. It’s both set and was filmed in Nottingham with locations including The Bath Inn in Sneinton and Lady Bay bridge.
Year of release: 1989- onwards Film/video production company: Central Independent Television
This is a children’s tv series made in the 90s and based on the popular book of the same name. It was shot in and around Nottingham and Birmingham.
Adrift In Soho
Year of release: 2018 Film/video production company: Burning Films
Despite the title this 1950s set drama was also shot in Nottingham specifically in the Lace Market, Stoney Street, Broad Street. It also features many locations you may be familiar with on any big night out in Notts including Brew Dog, Jam Cafe, Broadway and Lord Roberts pub.
A Boy Called Dad
Year of release: 2009 Film/video production company: Made Up North Productions
This is an intense drama from director Brian Percival featuring newcoming Kyle Ward as the main character of Robbie. Despite its coastal setting much of it was shot in Nottinghamshire specifically Giltbrook and Eastwood. It also stars the legend that is Ian Hart known for his award-winning performances in the likes of Four Daughters
Dead Walkers: Rise Of The 4th Reich
Year of release: 2013 Film/video production company: Sector 5 Films
No list is complete without a zombie film! That’s for real. This from writer director Phillip Gardiner was shot in and around Nottinghamshire and Derby. A hell of a film production, literally!
One For The Road
Year of release: 2003 Film/video production company: British Film Council
Based on a short film entitled Shifting Units this film from Nottingham writer director Chris Cooke concerns a group who meet on a rehabilitation course for drink drivers.
A Room For Romeo Brass
Year of release: 1999 Film/video production company: Arts Council England
One of Nottingham-based film director Shane Meadow’s earlier forays into cinema this depicts a couple of best mates befriending a loner, Paddy Considine. Incidentally the spark of Paddy’s friendship with Shane Meadows was lit whilst they were still studying photography in Burton on Trent not far away from Nottingham.
Year of release: 2009 Film/video production company: Revolution Films
This is actress Samantha Morton’s first outing behind the camera. It’s an excruciatingly tense and, at times, hard to watch tale of the failures in the care home system. It’s a system which Samantha knows all too well given this is a partly autobiographical piece. If you watch closely there’s segments where our young hero runs down near the Forest Recreation Ground. She also takes a long ride around on the bus as the end credits play.
Year of release: 2007 Film/video production company: Universal Pictures
For anyone looking to get their post-Peep Show fix this film pairs David Mitchell and Robert Webb together again. If it seems even more familiar it’s because it’s also directed by verteran Peep Show producer Andrew O’Connor. This film truly took us on a grand tour of the UK with shooting locations including everywhere from Skegness to Waterloo, Jersey and RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire. Not forgetting dear old Nottingham where the final magic battle was filmed in our very own Theatre Royal.