Behind the scenes with Derren Brown
It was a cold and wet morning on the day of the shoot, as is typical during January in England. We were filming in a disused train station in Aldwych, which has been used for filming on many occasions in the past, including the final scenes from V for Vendetta! Whilst we were not there to film anything on such a grandiose scale, we had the pleasure of working with illusionist Derren Brown, who was there to promote and reveal the details of the Ghost Train Experience at Thorpe Park, which he has been working on for the past 3 years.
After the safety briefing, we took, what seemed like never-ending stairs, down to the tunnels to set up and prepared the camera for when Derren arrived. His arrival was announced with enthusiastic whispering, as he made his way through the empty tunnels. He didn’t need to read any minds to know that we were all waiting in anticipation to meet him. He stepped into view, and greeted everyone with a charming smile; waved and said “hello” to me as I stood in the tunnel and I instantly thought ‘he’s a nice bloke’.
We moved from location to location, tunnel to train then onto the tracks in quick succession. Rarely did he have to say his lines twice and when asked to do it again, did so with the same showmanship you see on TV and during his live shows. It was off camera when we were setting up that I notice he was quite reserved. Whilst everyone was running around with costumes, tripods, clipboards, brains in jars and creepy dolls heads, he just stood back and took it all in and you barely knew he was there. That was until he was in front of the camera! There he became the man we all know and are fascinated by.
I resisted the urge to ask him how he does all his tricks, like the one where he handed over losing betting slips and convinced the poor woman behind the counter that they were winners, and more importantly why is he messing about on TV when he could be doing that all day?! We did manage to grab a quick photo with Derren, thanked him for his time and what a pleasure it was to work with him. By the time we packed up the kit he had disappeared, just like magic or maybe he used the front door… Either way he was great to work with on the first shoot of 2016.
Nathan Tansley, Production Assistant