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Victoria & Albert Museum in Hugo

Date posted: 01.12.2011

Hugo is the latest film from Oscar®-winning film-maker Martin Scorsese (The Departed). It is the director's first family adventure movie and stars Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass), alongside Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Sacha Baron Cohen (Bruno), Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island) and Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes).

Based on the New York Times bestseller, 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret', Hugo was adapted for the screen by John Logan, who most recently wrote the screenplay for 23rd Bond film Skyfall, currently shooting in London. Although set in 1930s Paris, Hugo was largely shot in the UK including key scenes filmed on location in London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

Hugo
tells the tale of an orphan boy living a secret life in the walls of a Paris train station, whose quest is to unlock a secret left to him by his father. The film opened to rave reviews on its release, which followed a royal premiere at London's Leicester Square last month, attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Shooting in 3D for the first time, Scorsese utilised the world-class facilities at Shepperton and Longcross Studios for almost nine months in 2010, where the production built extensive and ambitious sets.

The V&A was selected to double as a Parisian museum. Due to the sheer size and scale of the production, coupled with the vast amount of equipment that is required to film in 3D, the V&A welcomed Scorsese plus a crew of over 200 people in September 2010.

Although accustomed to facilitating location filming, Filming Manager Rachel Lloyd explains that before the production arrived "the museum underwent a week of intensive preparation, making it one of the most ambitious film projects for the museum to date."

With its impressive collection of 19th Century plaster cast and electrotype reproductions, Scorsese selected the venue's Cast Court sculpture galleries to represent the Paris museum where Hugo's father (Jude Law) is at work.

For the shoot, the two glass-roofed galleries were blacked out to ensure the production had full control of the lighting in order to shoot in 3D and Museum specialists moved delicate sculptures to accommodate the 3D camera crane rigs. Lloyd explains that Sculpture Curator, Melissa Hamnett, "had to ensure that equipment and movement in the space was restricted to a bare minimum due to the fragility of the objects".

Location Manager Jamie Lengyel explains that the shoot required "careful planning to not only ensure the museum's spectacular collections were protected, but also allowing the production's not insignificant presence to go largely unnoticed by the many thousands of daily visitors that pass through the museum." He described the V&A as an "exceptional location" and although the team was faced with many exceptional requests they "pulled out all the stops to support this film."

In the heart of London, the V&A Museum is primarily a Victorian building with some modern additions. It was established in 1852 with Queen Victoria laying the foundation stone to a new building in 1899. Its collection is made up of ceramics, furniture, fashion, sculpture and paintings from across the world.

The Museum has a landscaped garden with a fountain that has an Italianate feel to it. The building itself is made up of long corridors, lofty halls and exhibition spaces spread over six levels.

The period rooms and original features include Victorian refreshment rooms, grand staircases including one made of ceramic, two cast courts, mosaic floors, wood-paneled library, balconies and a lecture theatre. The Central Hall has been transformed into a light space with large transparent, glass display cabinets and the roof space and its domes provide a dramatic skyline across the capital.

The V&A has recently played host to the highly acclaimed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at their Blythe House site as well as The Oxford Murders and Frankly. TV productions also shot at the V&A include Spooks, The Culture Show and Bargain Hunt.

For filming enquiries contact Rachel Lloyd: r.lloyd@vam.ac.uk  / 020 7942 2841 / 07776 151 805.

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