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Modern Guernsey 'too difficult' to transform for Potato Pie film

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MODERN Guernsey is too unlike the island in the 1940s for the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film to have been shot here, its producers have said.

A still supplied by StudioCanal of Lily James and Michiel Huisman, the stars of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society film, much of which was filmed in Devon.

Many islanders were disappointed that most of the filming was done in Devon with the few shots of Guernsey being those of the island’s distinctive German towers.

An independent film-maker from the island, Gene Fallaize, suggested the reason behind Studio Canal’s decision not to film on the island was linked to a lack of tax credits available and sought to launch a campaign to change the States’ approach.

But that was denied by the film’s producer, Paula Mazur.

‘Prior to the film’s production we did extensive location scouting on the island of Guernsey working very closely with VisitGuernsey, States of Guernsey marketing and tourism, to find suitable shooting locations,’ she said.

‘Due to the period setting a very specific look was needed to recreate 1940s Guernsey both during and just after the Occupation.

‘We filmed the original WW2 look-out towers from the island that are hugely iconic Guernsey landmarks.

‘However, despite an enormous amount of effort from all parties it was eventually decided it was logistically unrealistic to try and transform modern-day Guernsey for the full production, in order to accurately depict the historical period in which the story is set.’

Mr Fallaize says the States could still offer more for aspiring producers and directors. ‘The locations have such a unique look, things like small granite walls, it doesn’t look like many other places, it has a lot to offer.

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‘You would bring a film crew, usually they would come off-season in tourist areas, and they would spend a lot of money usually, it’s only good for the businesses. It’s a long-term way to advertise the island, it would be a bit crazy to ignore it,’ he said.

Mr Fallaize, who has worked with actors such as Brian Blessed and Gemma Atkinson in a number of relatively small budget titles, said he wanted to consider shooting his next film on the island but found it was hard to convince the investors.

‘The British Film Institute offer up to 20% return after VAT on any costs of a film made in and about Britain. Film in Guernsey though and you don’t get any tax credits back. For most productions it’s a no-brainer [to film in the UK].

‘What I’m trying to do is find a way to off-set that and to convince investors that it is worth doing, whether it be discounts or subsidies.’

Mike Hopkins, director of marketing and tourism, said: ‘We already see many visitors coming to Guernsey due to their love of the book [on which the film is based] and we have specific product, such as themed walks, linked to this so we know the appetite for this story is there.

‘There is a growing interest in screen tourism – research shows that 40% of visitors to the UK are inspired to visit locations either mentioned or featured in films – and our continued interest in celebrity culture means that this is a trend that is still on the rise.’

Alex Warlow

By Alex Warlow
News reporter

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