The Royal Albert Hall’s history of live music is unrivalled but did you know the venue has also played a role in film history?
More than 100 movies have been filmed at the Hall, from The Ipcress File to Spice World, and Alfred Hitchcock shot or set five features here. It has been used as a cinema since the silent period and hosted regular Films in Concert screenings and red-carpet premieres.
With the echoes of cinematic history around us, and a crew of 13 plus four Royal Albert Hall staff, we filmed Your Room Will be Ready, a short film in the silent auditorium, empty corridors and hidden spaces, in one very busy day at the Hall.
Take a look at all the action from behind the scenes
With cinema cameras and gear provided by Panavision, filming began at 5am, before sunrise, to capture the quietness around the building,.
The Royal Albert Hall in a still from Your Room Will Be Ready.
How they got the shot
Taken at dawn to emulate dusk, the team at the Hall had to turn on every light in every window including those in the dome. Extra porch illumination was brought in to capture that early evening mood, just before a gig.
A view from the roof
Up on the roof to pan the London skyline from Kensington.
It can get incredibly hot in the roof so once inside the building the crew worked from the top down, taking all the footage from the roof first and slowly working their way through the five stories of the Hall into the Loading Bay.
It’s rare that we get to show off what’s under the glass dome of our roof. The equipment which lowers and raises lighting rigs, some of the mushrooms, and acoustic equipment is hung from the iron girders up here.
Filming in those lesser seen places
The crew scope the corridors while Hitchcock looks on from a photograph.
To really emphasise the eerie, isolated feel of the empty corridors, all the lights, except those around the photographs on the wall, were turned off.
Even while the Hall is closed, people are still working around the clock to maintain the building and so the ceiling lights hardly ever need to be turned off. Finding the light switch when it was needed was an unexpected challenge.
Down in the Loading Bay, take a look at the wall in the background. Many of the faces and historic moments you can see memorialised in the mural here are featured in the film.
How they got the shot
One of the opening shots shows the closed Royal Albert Hall from outside, leaves gently blowing past, but with no breeze in the air a leaf blower had to be found, and along with a little man power the effect was achieved.
Director Tom Harper kicking the leaves outside Stage Door.
The ghost light
An early idea was the focus on the ghost light, a light all theatres leave on when a venue is dark. The plan was to show the Hall lying dormant and then exploding into life.
Gaffer, Wayne King, and our Lighting Design Manager, Richard Thomas, designed a lighting cue that brought the room up from total darkness, with a lone ghost light on stage, to fully lit with gold colouring across the Hall’s architectural features. It wasn’t an easy thing to achieve and the cue timings were endlessly tweaked before getting the perfect shot.
And that’s a wrap
A whirlwind day of shooting throughout the building came to an end. Many of the shots didn’t make the final cut and a few things changed along the way, but in the end we have a film that captures all the anticipation, the fervour and the exhilaration of seeing live events at the Hall, seeped in the rich history of those who have stepped out on to the stage before us.
9 ways you can support us
This extended closure has put the Royal Albert Hall, like many other venues, in a perilous situation.
Without shows on we have lost our major source of funding, but there remains a number of ways you can continue to support the Royal Albert Hall during this crisis:
Please support the Royal Albert Hall during the coronavirus crisis.
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