Coming to the big screen

Still Life timecode clapper

Still Life timecode clapper


On Monday 28 May 2012 The National Archives played host to a feature film crew, who had come to shoot a feature film called ‘Still Life.’

It was quite exciting for me because I have never done anything on this scale before  – The National Archives exterior was once used as a shopping mall in ‘Spooks’ and we came very close to being part of the movie ‘X-Men: First Class’ as an unnamed government building, but those were both before my time.


The first question every person asked me when they found out was: ‘Who is going to be in it?’ The star on set for this film was Eddie Marsan (Snow White and the Huntsman, War Horse, Happy Go Lucky). The film follows Eddie as ‘a council worker charged with finding the next of kin of those who have died alone’ and is described as ‘taking him on a liberating journey that allows him to start living life at last.’

Eddie Marsan in the Staff Reading Room

Eddie Marsan in the Staff Reading Room

This ‘liberating journey’ includes a visit to The National Archives so, for once, (outside of documentaries) we are mainly playing ourselves. To achieve this the Press Office had to work with many other departments, from Document Services to Security, making sure that filming proceeded smoothly.

The film crew arrived early Monday morning and set up their base in one of our car parks. I was amazed at how much equipment they had brought with them. Trailers were parked and awnings erected before I had even arrived at 07.50 ready for set up and filming to start at 08.00.

The first scene shot was outside and some scaffolding got its 15 minutes of fame. The crew spent a humorous amount of time trying to lure ducks into the shot using bird feed – we will have to wait and see if they succeeded.

Film crew in the repository

Film crew in the repository

The crew then moved on to two locations inside the building. The filming was arranged for a Monday as we are closed to the public and it would cause minimum disruption.

The crew were here from 08.00 until 14.00 and spent about two hours in each location. This was all for an estimated four minutes in a 90 minute film! I have a new respect for why it takes so long to film a full length feature film.


‘Still Life’ is due to be released in cinemas early 2013. I encourage everyone to check it out and see our four minutes of fame on the big screen.


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