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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

About The Location
Shooting began on the film in April 2001 and marked a historic moment in British film history – the re-launch of the famous Ealing Studios. Purchased last year by a consortium of Fragile Films, The Idea Factory and The Manhattan Loft Corporation, the Studios were launched in 1902 and enjoyed a critical boom in the 1940s with a steady stream of enduring comedies such as The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob and Passport To Pimlico. The Importance Of Being Earnest, marks the first film bearing the Ealing logo since 1959.

"It's a happy coincidence that this film came together at the same time as the buying of the studio and the re-launching of the Ealing logo happened," says Thompson. "Ealing's always stood for a certain kind of Britishness, a smart and funny attitude, a certain quality of acting and the ability of very good dramatic actors to be funny as well. Hopefully, when people see this film they will see the spirit of old Ealing in it."

Locations manager Christian McWilliams was in Morocco, working on Tony Scott's Spy Game, when he received the call from Parker's production office. "I was surrounded by palm trees in the middle of shooting a war film," he recalls, "and suddenly I was asked to think about period England."

Parker decided to make great use of locations, and much of the film takes place in the beautiful landscapes of rural Buckinghamshire. "It definitely it will add a total new dimension to the film," says Everett, "because half of it is set in London." Witherspoon agrees. "It's been very inspiring, being outdoors," she says. "It added a sort of magical element."

"It was very important to have a sense of a dreamy English summer," Thompson says, "particularly for the second half of the film, and we were incredibly fortunate. The sun shone every day for all the three or four weeks that we were scheduled to work outside, so I think that the film will have that spirit to it. The whole thing had a sense of setting off to go on a picnic, and if that sense of fun comes through then I think that will be exactly what we hoped to get when we started the journey."

For the setting of Jack's country house, the production settled for West Wycombe Park. "We looked at over 30 venues before we found it," McWilliams says. "It was perfect for our needs. Over 50 per cent of filming was outside so we needed a wide range of grounds to shoot in, and West Wycombe has fantastic variety." Owned by the Dashwood family since 1698, West Wycombe became a regular meeting place for the infamous Hell Fire Club.

Another difficulty for the locations team was re-creating The Savoy, one of London's most famous hotels. Shooting on location was logistically impossible. St. Ermine's Hotel in London graciously agreed to have their ballroom transformed by the design team into the 19th century dining rooms of The Savoy. "I've never known a hotel agree to a crew completely making over one of their rooms," says McWilliams. "In this case we were given permission to transform their ballroom, re-creating The Savoy dining room as it was in 1902." The management were so impressed by the transformation they have kept the room intact.

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