We often get asked about production filming at the estate and why we allow it. This question comes from museum colleagues, conservation professionals, visitors and the general public. I have noticed that the public becomes interested after they have tried to visit the estate for a museum experience when filming is occurring and they begin to realise what a nightmare it can be when it comes to the preservation mandate of Parkwood, above and beyond the presentation, or lack of it, when film crews are scurrying about. Otherwise, if just a casual interest, then the idea of filming at the museum is glamorous and exciting.
This is not to disparage the film industry. Parkwood loves working with you and works in tandem with the industry whenever we can. We have made great friends in the field, friendships that have lasted well beyond the shoot days at the estate, and I teach a class to future curators about filming in historic sites and the ways in which we deal with the preservation concerns, which are frankly, the last thing a film production is concerned with. They must meet deadlines, get the film in the can and move on! However, we work together and I believe we are successful in achieving what both of us need. For the film industry, a beautiful location. For Parkwood, a means to preservation.
Ultimately, film production at Parkwood is a much needed revenue source, and although ancillary, just like weddings, to our main purpose, it assists us in achieving our preservation and stewardship role.
Many of our supporters do not realise how the film industry has contributed to our fundraising and capital campaigns over the years through donations. We are also fortunate to have worked with some great productions that have undertaken the cost of conservation projects. Projects well beyond the dollar figure in my annual budget; carpets and draperies conserved, plaster and linen work completed, even small painting projects, it is all a tremendous help. Parkwood is a $20 million dollar site, and although interpretation is our business, $10.00 for a tour, does not go very far in regards to the preservation costs of an estate nearing its centennial.
Finally, as much as we hate to admit it, the public find filming fascinating. While we hope that guests visit Parkwood for our story, we know (we hear it) that certain film productions will be forever linked with Parkwood and that may very well be the appeal for a demographic. The museum audience is small and inclined, but the movie market huge, and if that’s what gets them through the door initially, we hope we can convert them into a history buff, or at least a museum visitor.