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School newspaper journalists get the scoop on Primrose Hill set of Paddington 2

Paddington's head cost £45,000 to make for hotly-anticipated movie in which NW1 residents appear as extras

09 November, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Haverstock School pupils in Chalcot Crescent: Fahim Rahman, Anisah Rahman, Iman Abdirisak and Jezraan Faruque. 

THE New Journal has for once been scooped on all the secrets behind the filming of a star-packed movie blockbuster in Primrose Hill – by teenagers working for their school newspaper.

Budding reporters from Haverstock School, in Chalk Farm, have told how they were given exclusive access to Paddington II, which hits cinemas this weekend. As they did with the first film, movie company Studio Canal took over much of picturesque Chalcot Crescent for filming, bringing Michael Bond’s marmalade-loving bear to life once more.

It brought the likes of actors Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent back to NW1 to reprise their roles, and this time they were joined by Hugh Grant and Brendon Gleeson. Some residents in the road appear as extras.

Haverstock pupil Anisah Rahman told the New Journal they were stunned to discover how the crew got actors to speak to the bear, which on film is a CGI (computer-generated imagery) creation.

“They had Paddington’s head on a stick, which the actors spoke to – and they told us not to play with it as it cost them £45,000 to make,” she said. “I could’ve made it by cutting the head off a teddy bear and sticking it on a broom.” As curious as the bear himself, the children were interested in finding out how things worked.

Chalcot Crescent became Windor Gardens again

But, unlike Paddington, they decided it was best not to meddle with expensive equipment without permission. Year 9 pupil Jezraan Faruque said: “I asked if I could play about with the fog machine they had, but they said no. I asked a few times though, so they let me at the end.”

Fahim Rahman, who is a Year 7 pupil at the school in Haverstock Hill, added: “It was very exciting to go behind the scenes and very special to see how it was made. We will watch films in a different way, now.”

Location manager Jonah Coombes approached the Primrose Hill Community Association to discuss how to make a two-week shoot acceptable to residents. In the first instalment, they had been in the Crescent for just four days.

He said: “This time around residents were understandably more aware of how the filming process worked, and able to ask more questions. This meant we had to invest more time and effort in consulting residents and making answers available for them, along with our plans. The extra effort was worth it. It’s important that residents see this film and are proud that this was filmed on their doorstep.”

Director Paul King wanted the front doors in the street to have a variety of primary colours and so some were given a lick of paint, with the promise they would be, if residents wished, repainted again after the shoot was completed. They opted to keep the colours the had been given.

Primrose Hill Community Association chairwoman Maureen Betts said the makers have been very supportive to both their library and our community centre. “We helped them and they have helped us,” she said. “Some of the people living in Chalcot Crescent were extras, and we felt it was well done and the film company consulted with everyone all the way through the filming.

Residents shut out of goodwill screening after cinema mix-up

MORE than 100 people who were invited to a special screening of Paddington 2 as a thank-you for living with the disruption caused by filming in Primrose Hill, found themselves locked outside a cinema after a booking mix-up. M

ovie-makers Studio Canal had set up an advance screening at the Odeon in Parkway, Camden Town, early on Sunday. When the invitees found the shutters down, some families began chanting “no more Paddington on our street” before they left disappointed.

A new screening date has been arranged and the Odeon has apologised.

A spokesman for the chain said: “We sincerely apologise for any disappointment caused by the cancellation of the special showing of Paddington 2 at our Camden cinema. Unfortunately the screening could not go ahead due to a technical error on our booking system.”

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