Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs filming in Matlock Bath (with film clip)
HARRY Potter star Jason Isaacs turned down a trip to New York to travel to Derbyshire and film a low-budget black comedy.
Jason, who plays villainous Lucius Malfoy in the film series based on J K Rowling's books, postponed previous commitments to take part in the movie Skeletons after seeing Bonsall writer-director Nick Whitfield's short film version.
Made in 2006, the 11-minute short also impressed East Midlands screen agency EM Media, who agreed to co-finance a feature-length version for national release.
The film is described as "a mystical, dramatic, black comedy" by producer Wendy Bevan-Mogg.
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It stars Andrew Buckley, who played Gobbler in the BBC's Extras, and his comedy partner Ed Gaughan. But Isaacs, whose major film work includes blockbusters Armageddon and The Patriot and the current Viggo Mortensen movie Good, was a late addition to the cast and a real coup for the film-makers
He said: "My agent got in touch and said, 'They really need a quick answer. The film starts shooting in a couple of days. You have to stay in a cottage with the two lead actors but it's only for a few days. There's no money and we know you are about to go to New York, so should I just say no?' I was just about to do just that but there was a link in the e-mail from my agent to the short film. It seemed rude not to click on it, so I did and I was absolutely memorised. It was fantastic. The perfect short. It intrigued me and entertained me. It was done with real style and panache so I said 'yes'.
"I thought – there's some really talented people sitting somewhere in a beautiful part of the country so I jumped in a car and I was here. It all seemed to happen in the blink of an eye and when you find people as talented as Nick is as a writer and director and two actors like Andy and Ed, who are compelling to watch, it seems like crime to turn away just because you are busy and have a lot to do. So I dropped lots of things I thought I couldn't possibly drop and came right here."
The six-week shoot started in the director's home community of Bonsall for 10 days before moving on to Peak Rail, the train station at Loughborough, Redhill Marina at Ratcliffe-on-Soar and finally to an isolated private house near Matlock Bath for an intense three-weeks.
Wendy Bevan-Mogg said: "We think this is a really special project and EM Media have been fantastic. I'm in charge of bringing the crew to this project and EM Media have been so helpful in terms of suggesting local people and helping us when we have needed them to without getting in the way of the creative process."
EM Media has been successful in developing or assisting with a wide range of films in the East Midlands including supporting director Shane Meadows, investing in last year's Derbyshire-set drama Summer (starring Robert Carlyle) and backing award-winning films such as the Ian Curtis biopic Control.
It recently announced that there had been a total of £35m inward investment to the East Midlands' economy from film and media in 2007/08, with £5.9m being granted in Derbyshire alone.