Scenes from Hollywood blockbuster 1917 filmed on River Tees

Hollywood has come to the Tees with the filming of Oscar favourite blockbuster 1917.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 4:08 pm
Updated Saturday, 11th January 2020, 9:52 pm
Actor George MacKay in action
Actor George MacKay in action

Directed by Sir Sam Mendes, the World War I epic tells the story of British soldiers Schofield and Blake who are entrusted with delivering a message calling off a planned attack which is walking into a German ambush. If they fail, hundreds of men – including Blake’s brother – will die.

Released across the UK on Friday, January 10, it picked up ‘Best Motion Picture - Drama’ and ‘Best Director - Motion Picture’ at the Golden Globes and is nominated for nine BATFAs.

One dramatic scene, which sees George MacKay’s Lance Corporal Schofield swept down a river, was shot at the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre.

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How the scene was shot...

The centre is no stranger to hosting TV and movie productions and has previously welcomed shows such as ITV’s Vera, Sky’s Storm City presented by Ben Fogle, MTV’s Geordie Shore, CITV’s Dare Master and most recently, BBC’s Countryfile.

Tees Active Managing Director Leon Jones explained: “We are thrilled to be part of such an incredible movie with some of the biggest names in film. 1917 is a real Hollywood epic that has given our staff and everyone involved a rare opportunity to experience something extra special.

Facility Manager Chris Gibbens added: “We worked closely with the location and production teams who chose Tees Barrage above other sites in the UK due to its diversity, expert team and unique ability to simulate extreme water conditions in a controlled environment.

“It was essential that we could replicate the same water conditions over and over to enable the production team to capture multiple shots, which made it the perfect location to shoot a variety of scenes.”

...and how it looks on screen

In a recent interview, cinematographer Roger Deakins spoke about filming at the Barrage: “We literally built a road out of scaffolding that ran alongside the water flow,” he said.

“This was so we could use a tracking vehicle to follow George down the course. A 20-foot telescopic arm with a three-foot drop down to a remote head holding our camera allowed us to boom out over the water. We used an underwater housing to submerge the camera for a short section of the work.”