If you are one of those cinema goers who sits relentlessly through the rolling of final movie credits in hope of spotting a familiar name on the list, Finding your Feet should make you happy – Chorleywood gets a mention! Or, more specifically, Carole Cohen and the Villagers of Chorleywood are acknowledged. Carole’s stunning Chalfont Lane home features in the recently released rom-com drama as the home of central character Lady Sandra Abbott (Imelda Staunton) and the filming involved the Cohen family and local friends.
When Carole was approached in 2016 about the possibiity of using Bannits’ House as a location she was hesitant,
“ I was concerned that the film might be oddball or have violent scenes but when they said it was an English comedy about middle aged women and was to star, amongst others. Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall and Joanna Lumley, I decided it would be great fun and how wonderful it would be for my children, (now in their 40s!) to see their family home in a film. I was hoping to downsize so thought it might help by giving some exposure.“
Carole has lived in Bannits’ House for nearly 40 years, originally with late husband Peter and their three children. The property, built in 1908, had an extension added ten years ago across the whole width of the rear of the house with doors opening from the original three reception rooms. It is this area, aka the orangery, that features in the opening scene of the movie.
“The film starts with an aerial view of Chorleywood and the drone camera comes along Chalfont lane and over the garden of Bannits’ although it’s meant to be Surrey!” says Carole, “the shot homes in on a party at the house to celebrate the character’s knighthood – Towards the end there is a summer garden party. It was all shot in November, – they used huge cranes with really powerful lights to create sunshine and we mingled and drank champagne which was actually ginger ale with a pinch of icing sugar to create bubbles! The orangery is long and wide with plenty of room for the cameras to move around. ”
Friends were pulled in as additional extras and some, including Chorleywooders Jane and Michael Bowler, Tim Corrie and Uni and Richard Parsons can be clearly seen in the party crowd as well as Carole and her grandchildren who travelled from their home in South Wales to take part in the shoot.
“The children all know Imelda from her role in the Harry Potter movies and were excited to have their photo taken with her.”
Nick Moorcroft and Meg Leonard’s heartwarming Finding your Feet story appeals to all ages. The plot centres around ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott who finds out that her husband of forty years, Mike, is having an affair with her best friend and seeks refuge in London with her estranged, older sister Bif (Celia Imrie) Sandra is a fish out of water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free-spirited boho sibling but she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to a community dance class, where gradually she starts finding her feet and romance as she meets her sister’s friends, Charlie (Timothy Spall), Jackie (Joanna Lumley) and Ted (David Hayman).
“ Mike’s affair is blown when Sandra finds her best friend kissing in our garage!” says Carole, “I never thought our garage would be in a movie!”
It took three days to set the house up then four days to film and the production company used most rooms on the three floors, some for storage. The used Winkers nightclub outside Chalfont St Giles as their location base and bussed everybody into Chorleywood daily,
“The crew covered all our carpet with a protective layer and packed away all our photos and paintings for copyright reasons. Director Richard Loncraine had a great line… ‘the taste is too good for the character!’ They lined up Mike’s golf trophies on shelves behind our bar for one scene and kept our decanter collection in shot!”
Just before we went to press Carole and family were invited to the the cast and crew preview
“The film is so well made. My youngsters (in their 40s) loved it. I know they are biased but there were tears in their eyes.. It has such a lovely ending! ”
Finding your Feet, Entertainment One UK
Bannits’ House is currently on the market and listed with local estate agents Savills