If you look at a map of the West Midlands you’ll notice we have our own Hollywood. The similarities of that and the hilly California district known as such are few and far between, but about five miles North from Hollywood, UK Digbeth’s Fullrange Productions are making a film they hope to prove Hollywood, CA is not the be all and end all of the film world.
The Husband Obedience Trials is a romantic comedy completely regionally produced with the efforts of Steff Aquarone founding director of Fullrange and the Guardian columnist Guy Browning. A West Midlands film crew and a post production team at the Fullrange offices at Fazeley Studios are overseeing the creation of the film set in the village of Kingston Bagpulze (which is the real name) located near Oxford. Not only have the villagers given permission for the filming, but they have volunteered props, costumes, make up, food and accommodation keeping everyone feeling involved, important and part of the community. Not only is the film plot that of small town charm and community spirit but the story behind the making is just as charming, proving there can be real heart behind the love story.
Though none of Birmingham is getting its 15 minutes of fame in this film, other location scouts have found Birmingham to be of use to them, albeit not in the most flattering (or acknowledged) ways, but it’ll have to take what it can get:
Brassed Off (1996) When Ewan McGregor’s Yorkshire colliery brass band finally make it to the Royal Albert Hall for their performance, they’d actually made it to Birmingham Town Hall’s stage.
Take Me High (1973) Cliff Richard and Deborah Watling drove down New Street for the last of his movie musicals, bringing the city to a standstill by adoring fans, hoping to catch a glimpse of the “heartthrob.”
Sex Lives of the Potato Men (2004) Not the most flattering of movies to begin with, Mackensie Crook & Johnny Vegas parked their car at Snow Hill station, offering “views” across the city, giving the Aston Expressway more coverage than traffic watch.
Felicia’s Journey (1999) The Bob Hoskins film where a rainy street scene and cinema exteriors were necessary were filmed outside the Electric Cinema. A plaque was erected to mark the occasion.
The Italian Job (2003) You know that dramatic chase through the Turin sewer? Well the entrance and exit were filmed in Turin but the length of sewer was a new pipe system being installed in Coventry.
The Husband Obedience Trials is touring the international film festival circuit this Winter, hoping to bring some genuine laughter to the screens and put Birmingham on the map for film production.
Words: Alex Rochester