Irish castle hosts period ball for Austen biopic

A lavish ball from the late 18th century was recreated in an Irish castle tonight for a multi-million euro movie telling the tale of author Jane Austen’s own life.

A lavish ball from the late 18th century was recreated in an Irish castle tonight for a multi-million euro movie telling the tale of author Jane Austen’s own life.

The ornate surroundings of Charleville Forest Castle in the Irish midlands were taken over as a scene from the movie detailing the real-life love of a 19-year-old Austen for a roguish Irishman, Tom Lefroy, was shot.

Arts Minister John O’Donoghue took a step back in time as he visited the Co Offaly set of Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway and James McEvoy, where 100 extras in period costume dress gathered to film the ballroom scene.

Mr O’Donoghue said: “The Irish economy continues to directly benefit from having major feature films such as Becoming Jane shot on location here.

“As well as the direct benefits to the local economy such as job creation and tourism, it is also important to have images of Ireland screened to international audiences around the world.

"Encouraging feature films to shoot in Ireland remains a major priority for the Irish Government and we hope that the recent changes to Section 481 will mean that Ireland remains a competitive international location for feature film.”

The multi-million euro production has been estimated to generate direct expenditure of €7.1m in Irish jobs, goods and services. Around 106 Irish cast and crew have been employed on the film.

After many adaptations of Austen’s famous novels – including Pride and Prejudice and Emma – for the screen, this production will delve into her own real life.

Written by Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams, the film was inspired by the true events of the little known romance of the young Austen and Irishman Lefroy.

The film will give fans a view of the young author in her early formative years.

Robert Bernstein, one of the producers, has previously revealed the script was developed from research including biographies on the author’s life.

Becoming Jane, which is being directed by Julian Jarrold, who made Kinky Boots, is shooting in the Dublin, Offaly and Wicklow region of Ireland.

The film stars Hathaway, from Brokeback Mountain, as the author, and McAvoy, who appeared in the Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as the young Irish suitor.

Other cast members include Maggie Smith, who has been seen in the Harry Potter films, and Julie Walters from Billy Elliott.

The adaptation is being produced by Ecosse Films, makers of the multi-award winning Mrs Brown, in association with Blueprint Pictures and Octagon Films.

“We are delighted to be back in Ireland which we have found to be an excellent film-friendly location. We are looking forward to bringing a slate of new projects here over the next year,” said Douglas Rae, one of the producers with Ecosse Films.

James Flynn, a producer with Octagon Films, said the film had benefited from supplementary funding allocated by the Irish Film Board and Arts Department which had contributed to its decision to re-locate the feature film to Ireland.

Several films are currently shooting in Ireland including John Boorman’s new movie, A Tiger’s Tale, starring Brendan Gleeson, which has shot scenes in Dublin’s Temple Bar.

Simon Perry, chief executive of the Irish Film Board, said: “Becoming Jane is one of six feature films currently shooting in Ireland. This is good news for the Irish film industry but in an increasingly competitive and challenging international environment for film production, we cannot get complacent and must continue to monitor our level of competitiveness.”

Octagon Films and Ecosse confirmed two television dramas worth around $12m will be shot in Ireland during the second half of the year, and they were also in negotiations to shoot two feature films.

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