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17 June 2009 @ 11:14 pm
Set visit to Pierrefonds  
Ok, I've wanted to go and see some Merlin filming ever since it seemed like it was possible to do so, given that Pierrefonds is a castle open to the public. So I was waiting for the first reports to come out that they had begun filming over there, and as soon as there were some, I booked my tickets. It helps that gwene lives in Paris and could drive us over there, and I could stay in her place - thank you so much, gwene!

In actual fact gwene ended up being too busy with unexpected work, so couldn't make it, which meant I had an interesting time on the French public transport system - I may never moan about the British trains again :) But despite difficulties, I made it to the castle for about 10.00am, yesterday, and the sun was shining and it was as beautiful as it looks. There were signs up for 'Merlin' outside, and arrows, and a French security guy for Merlin sat in a car, although he didn't seem to be doing much securing precisely - I asked him for directions and he told me! Inside, I took photos of a half-built jousting stand, and the metal railing of the drawbridge covered in brushwork, before walking around the castle itself and taking my photos of all the bits I recognised, as well as all the extra props they had left lying aropund, cloth covered flats, banners on the walls etc. All seemed quiet. Then, back in the courtyard, I saw stage hands carrying props (Uthor's throne!) and managed to ask where they were filming today. I was extremely lucky, the following day's filming was going to be in the pale marble hall next to the courtyard (more of that in a bit) but today - TODAY - they were filming in the courtyard. I was so happy.

Around that time I bumped into three peeps who I accosted shamelessly - thanks, you guys - because I am getting to be quite good at spotting fellow fan girls (and boy) so I also had welcome company for the next seven or so hours, until they shut the castle and we had to leave. We were the only fans there on that day.

So what happened? Oh, it was so interesting! I mean, it was dull too, because basically, in all that time, we saw only one main scene being filmed, and one tiny extra one with no dialogue. And that was it - but still - it was fascinating! I've never watched filming before, so it was all new, which helped I'm sure. There was loads of hanging around - loads of it - but it didn't matter.

I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say, because I'm sure they don't want loads of information leaking out, but I think it's not too bad to say that we saw Episode 4 Scene 48 being filmed, but that although it's fourth to film it's going to be first to air, I believe, and that the guest star is Mackenzie Crook. I think that's ok, because that's already been announced. The scene contained Colin, Bradley and Mackenzie, although Bradley didn't speak. We did get beautifully emoting Colin though *sigh*

Through the day we managed to meet all of the above, through judicious and tactful approaching and asking permission in the breaks between takes, and also Johnny Capps, the producer, who we spoke to first, and who approached us (well actually me - OMG) with his hand held out to shake as he said, "I remember you from Expo." You could have knocked me down with a feather, and I suspect I had my mouth open like a fish, I was so flabbergasted. I was certainly terribly incoherent. Johnny chatted a bit about the filming that day, and how we were lucky it was in the courtyard (we were aware :) and wished us a good day. Then as he was going he said, he hoped none of our pictures were going to go up on the internet. We obviously said, no, of course not. Which is why this is a verbal report, dammit.

Then, later on, after we had seen some French girls go up and talk to Colin and not be stopped, we thought it was probably ok to approach him too. He was really sweet, and was happy to pose for photos - he said sometimes they are funny about it, because they like the costumes to be a surprise, but his hasn't changed! He is even skinnier than you might think, and his brown jerkin is not suede, but fabric that looks like suede, which is probably how he copes in the hot sun. It's very soft. As I went for my photo he too said that he remembered me from Expo! *more shock*

Then later on again, we risked it with Bradley too, and he seemed quite happy to be interrupted and talked with us for ages. I suspect that is because his job that day was to lie around in the courtyard pretending to be unconscious, and at one point to have rocks dropped lightly on his head :) Anyway, it was the chattiest and most relaxed that I have seen him, much more like the Bradley we see in the dvd extras, I finally see what others see in him, he was very charming. We wondered if he'd been asleep out on the ground, and he said no, but he'd been trying for it, he was method acting, he needed the practice! And when I had my photo I went, ooh chainmail (although definitely aluminium) and was it heavy? He said you certainly felt the weight off your shoulders at the end of the day.

Then I asked about Soccer 6 and I think that really engaged him, because he was totally happy to chat about it. He seemed surprised that I had been there, which relieved me, because I'd asked the slightly stupid Soccer 6 question at Expo, and was embarrassed about that. So he didn't remember me, phew :) I said there'd been a bunch of us fangirls, and we'd been loud, but obviously not loud enough. He said he thought he'd heard people shouting Bradley at one point, but he hadn't wanted to run over the edge of the pitch, in case he was wrong. There were also a lot of fans out for JLS, and they were all crazy! He hadn't wanted to look like a fool in front of them.

Then we discussed teams, and he said the rest of his was a bit rubbish, which we agreed with, and that the professional footballer they had wasn't the one in the programme, it was some Bulgarian player, but that he was a good guy. And it turns out that the reason Santiago was there, was because Bradley had called him! Apparently they went to the same drama school for a bit, and they'd played some games then, and he knew he was a bit handy with a ball. He said next time he was getting to choose his own team if he could. Then we both dissed Babyshambles, and Bradley seemed pissed off that they had a roadie playing for their team, which I agreed with, it didn't seem fair. He also said he'd be happy to do it again, but it might clash with more filming in France, so he doesn't know if it's going to be possible. (I got excited because I thought that meant they might have heard about a third series being confirmed already, before I remembered that Soccer 6 have two matches a year - oh well!)

Then a crew member came up and gave him a ten minute warning, while glaring at us! I think she thought he needed rescuing, but Bradley just looked confused and carried on talking football for another couple of minutes, even though we'd been quite prepared to go! So that was very nice of him.

Anyway, then it was back to watching more filming, and a bit of wandering about between takes, to see the set dressing on the village that's been built along the back wall of the castle. There was extra fruit and a goat! On the way back through the marble hall, I saw that the fabric flats were being assembled into fabric covered pillars to disguise the statury (which looks too much like stuff from a museum to be left visible) and asked a passing chap about it, and whether I could take a photo. He said yes, and it turned out to be a lucky person to stop, because he was the designer! I didn't catch his name, and he's not the designer from last series, they've changed. He used to work on Sugar Rush though, so he might be Paul Cripps, but I'm not sure.

He was very lovely and allowed us to ask loads of questions. I asked about Arthur's bedroom, and did they use a particular location? He said, no it's a set in the studio, so I asked, why is it such an inconvenient shape then? With too many doors etc. He said that originally it was only meant to be an antechamber, and the bed was envisaged to be next door, but then scripts started coming in that said Arthur was in bed, getting out of bed, etc, so they had to put one in! And then different directors wanted the furniture shifted around to suit them! He laughed and said that directors don't think the audience notices stuff like that and we laughed knowingly, although agreed that the average viewer probably doesn't :)

So that was my set visit - it was a wonderful day, that I would repeat it in a heartbeat - maybe during the next set of filming? Although I might not be as lucky a second time - but I'd be willing to try. I sat watching for about seven hours all told, one hour of watching prep, and then six hours of filming. Apparently - Colin told us this - shooting is on an erratic schedule, sometimes early, sometimes late. On the day I was there, it was late. They began filming at noon (although make-up was already done by then) and they would do a 12 hour day, they were going to be there until midnight. They broke for lunch, their words, at 5.30. We got to wave goodbye to Colin as he went off for lunch, as we sat on the drawbridge - there's a little path, and over the hill are dressing rooms and craft services. The others had seen the set-up on Sunday when there was no filming, and they had a bit more access, but I didn't mind.

Everyone was very lovely, and I'm so grateful. They were all so nice, thank you very much for such a wonderful day, Merlin crew!
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Valderys: Merlin - Iz Dedvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:13 pm (UTC)
I was very lucky with the schedule, certainly, it really was a very good day, and so interesting. Bradley seemed completely taken aback by how enthusiastic I was about the process of filming! :)
Von: heeinmemorybound on June 18th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
That sounded absolutely brilliant! XD *envies*
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
Not cheap though, if that makes you feel any better! I'd like to go back, if I can, so maybe you should think about it too?
(no subject) - inmemorybound on June 18th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
auntiemeesh: merlinauntiemeesh on June 18th, 2009 12:53 am (UTC)
Wow! What an awesome visit. I can't imagine anything shot over here being that open to fan visits. Thanks for sharing your report. :)
Valderys: Merlin - prettier than Arthurvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
I think they're less precious about it over here. Even Doctor Who is ok with people watching, if the filming is on an outside location. I don't think anyone lets you watch an indoor set being filmed though, not even here.
Coffeejunkii: colin being gorgeouscoffeejunkii on June 18th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
haha, you don't know me, but i wanted to say thank you for this comprehensive and amazing report [found it via the bradleycolin flist]. how wonderful that you got to meet and chat with everyone!

also, the audience definitely notices when arthur's furniture mysteriously moves around from one episode to the next!
Valderys: Arthurvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! Yes, I knew that, it was because of that detailed post that I thought to ask the question, because I thought it was something fandom really wanted to know!
(no subject) - coffeejunkii on June 18th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
BlackSquirrel: Teyla Wavesblacksquirrel on June 18th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
Wonderful! Thanks for putting this up!
Valderys: Merlin/Arthur - lightbulb!valderys on June 18th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
You are entirely welcome! It's for my own selfish reasons really - I need to talk to somebody who understands, and posting about it is the closest I can get!
kinda into that Colin Morgan guy: expo bradleyrodneyscat on June 18th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for the lovely and detailed report! Hee, I'd been wondering about that player in their team, because I hadn't been able to figure out who he was and it was clear that apart from Bradley and Santiago he was the only one who knew what he was doing. And I like that we get confirmed that from their point of view it must have been difficult picking out the Merlin fans among the JLS fans.

And I love that you asked about Arthur's chamber! That's one of those things I would have thought of when back home again...
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
Well, each of the teams had a professional player, but it so happened that The Inbetweeners' player wasn't the one in the programme (there was a lot changed from that programme, it seems to me :)

And it was nice getting a bit of info from Bradley's POV, but I know from other's reports that he called fans down to the side of the pitch after the final, and filmed them, so he knew there were at least some fans there. I think he was being a bit disingenuous actually, or possibly modest, but I was hardly going to call him on it to his face! :)
(no subject) - rodneyscat on June 18th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
David Brider: Merlin - Merlin and Arthur ♥davidbrider on June 18th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC)
Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I wish I could get away with a trip to France, but time and money are kind of against me at the moment. *jealous* *g*
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Aww. You're right, it wasn't the cheapest trip in the world, but I've done more expensive things for fandom! :) I went to DragonCon last year for example, and we're going again this year. It didn't seem so bad to pay a bit for a trip to France!
gealach rós ッ: BJ greengealach_ros on June 18th, 2009 06:39 am (UTC)
What a wonderful and detailed report, thank you so much! \0/
Wow, I'm really excited for you - Colin and Bradley + Johnny and the set designer - so many interesting people to talk to! :D
Valderys: Merlin - prettier than Arthurvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
I do think we were particularly lucky - although we had to pluck up the courage to go and approach Colin and Bradley and Mackenzie, so I give us *some* credit :) It was just lucky they weren't hidden away inside!
Muppet: Boy: Colin | eyebrowthe_muppet on June 18th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
Here via coffeejunkii's LJ - wonderful report, thanks so much for sharing - and that you actually got to chat with them all for a while is brilliant - so envious =)

Edited at 2009-06-18 06:51 am (UTC)
Valderys: Merlin - Iz Dedvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Well, there was a lot of sitting around for them while technical issues were sorted (like wetting down the cobblestones - I don't know why) so I didn't feel we were disturbing them too much! It was brilliant!
cheekanzoopcheekanzoop on June 18th, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
Aww, brilliant! I'm so glad it was better meeting Bradley this time round!
Valderys: Arthurvalderys on June 18th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
It's silly, right? I just hadn't been that impressed with him before - I suspect he doesn't like fangirls en masse, but a few is fine. And both he and Colin are even more gorgeous in costume than they are in civvies, which might have helped! *is shallow*
chandlershawchandlershaw on June 18th, 2009 09:25 am (UTC)
Must admit I am not a Merlin fan at all, but sounds like a fabulous day for someone who is. (No Tony Head?)
Valderys: Merlin - did I leave the gas on?valderys on June 18th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
No, I suppose if I had a complaint, which I don't really, it's that there was no Tony Head, and no Katie or Angel either. There is a second unit which films at the same time - I assume they were out somewhere with that.
Kat: Pellewkillalla on June 18th, 2009 10:35 am (UTC)
Glad to see you getting in some good ol' fannish stalking - and congratulations on picking what sounds like the perfect day to visit!
Valderys: Merlin - Iz Dedvalderys on June 18th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
Oh yes! It was great. I miss you though, I can't squee to Jen and Hannah, they just look blankly at me... (My life is so hard :)
Hueyphoenixacid on June 18th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
OMG, that's AMAZING. What I'd give to actually be there and talk to Bradley and Colin!
Valderys: Colin Morgan - Property of Bradleyvalderys on June 18th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
I must admit, I think we were very lucky in that respect, having them that available. We weren't even going to do it, until some French girls did. They were very sweet.
Miss Fuzzy: [Merlin] Arthur Is Epic Loveronsoftie on June 18th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Awww, what a lovely and detailled set report, and how wonderful that you got to chat with everyone :D Makes me want to go back as well :)
Valderys: Merlin - Iz Dedvalderys on June 18th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've just gone and looked at your set visit pics, and they're *gorgeous*! It makes me want to post some of mine - I'm sure if I try not to be too spoilery, I won't really be breaking my promise to Johnny... *cof*
(no subject) - ronsoftie on June 18th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Valderys: Merlin - prettier than Arthurvalderys on June 18th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
Pierrefonds is lovely! And we were really aware how lucky we were. I think even before we were approached by Johnny it was obvious that they knew we were fangirls! And, of course, after he approached, well - really obvious then! :) The whole crew were so nice to us though, they must have had loads of fans bothering them, and they were still lovely - the only ones who weren't was the AD who glared and tried to warn us off talking to Bradley, and one French really lowly dogsbody who came and hassled us out of the blue, and said we'd taken enough photos. Personally, I think she had no-one else below her to boss around, so she tried it on with us. We failed to pay attention.

As for Colin, talking to him was difficult. Usually, I'm pretty good about thinking of something to say to actors, but he was so... luminous. So lovely. I had a really hard time to think of anything, I was staring dazed, which is why that bit is a little short on detail. And I was thrown by him remembering me. He isn't *too* skinny, I think. He is *very* skinny, but it looks as though that's just natural with him - I expect he'll fill out a bit over the next few years, and look less skeletal. Because when I put my arm round him for the photo - yep, *really* skinny :)
(no subject) - bunglegirl on June 18th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valderys on June 18th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bunglegirl on June 18th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valderys on June 20th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - enelte on June 19th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valderys on June 20th, 2009 11:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - enelte on June 22nd, 2009 08:04 am (UTC) (Expand)