At the end of May, The Grand Tour’s producer called. “I am looking for a farm location. I’m so glad to have found you”. The brief was to provide a farm which allowed Jeremy Clarkson and crew to create the “ultimate farm playground” and drive as fast as possible, in Ken Block style. “There’d be no damage” Dan said, the crew and cast are the best at this kind of production. I presented 5 different farms for the TGT editorial meeting – Jeremy just picked out the combined solution of Hare and Great Knights Farm as the only option to recce. They chose not to approach any other farms or agencies – it looked like we’d hit the nail from the off.
The build up to filming days
And so the recces began. About 5 in total, starting with just the producer, then next with Mark Higgins, the pro driver, and Greg, Series Producer. Mark needed to check early on whether the ideal stunts were possible, and advise on any changes needed. All was possible, and then ensued the technical recces.
It took just 6 weeks from first phone call to first shoot day. The farms are my own family farms, Hare and Great Knights, and along with my brother Stuart, we stayed very involved and collaborative to ensure the plans were unfolding ok, and all was do-able from both sides. Fortunately July is a quiet time of year on the farm, so Chump Productions could take over the farm completely. And so they did.
The locals took on important roles
The crew peaked at 65 on some of the shoot days: there were 5 shoot days in total and 1 prep and strike days. The ground work was done by our own nominated grounds worker – Chris knew the farm landscape back to front, he’d worked here over the course of 20 years, and so with Chris on board, we had every confidence in what new landscape forms were being created and how well it would be put back again. Chris created water areas, banks, and even was the nominated person in his digger to turn Jeremy Clarkson’s Subaru back over, with Clarkson in it!
Another local supplier was the village pub, the Red Lion in Brede. Chef Gary organised the 7 days of catering, including cooked breakfasts and lunches, and lighter teas. A marquee was hired as the catering tent, in the unit base field.
Two local farmers, Will and Rob, were recruited in to drive a pair of Massey Ferguson tractors in a couple of the stunt scenes. Although w had our own tractors on the farm, Stuart was otherwise engaged in driving to and fro the scenes with Landrover and quad bike support. He even became a key part of part of the speedy wheel-changing team.
Stuart was also filmed during the week, in a scene showing the angry farmer reacting to the carnage Clarkson was causing. It didn’t quite make the edit this time!
The extraordinary props raised an eyebrow
Let’s start with the sheep. Real, live ones were used. These were our own and it was Clarkson’s job to gather them in to a pen, and shut the gate, all whilst driving the car. It was a very hot day whilst filming, the sheep did well to cooperate, and the scene looked amazing. And then the joke was played – viewers would then see sheep strewn across the field, laying dead from being crashed into by Clarkson. This joke created quite a stir in the media – How dare Clarkson stoop this low, and kill sheep in the process of filming for fun? It was the Farmers Weekly who put people straight. These “dead sheep” were not killed during filming. They weren’t the farmer’s. They’d been bought in – taxidermy was the order of the day. The lengths The Grand Tour goes to!
And then there were the cows. Clarkson wanted cows in shot. We didn’t have any on the farm. To hire some in was an extortionate price, especially when regulations also insist that the cattle could not move off site for a further 5 days. Cows were therefore delivered in the plastic form. It worked, in a way only Clarkson could pull off.
Chickens and homing pigeons were hired in too for the filming, along with bags full of feathers.
The scarecrows were our favourite props. Lots and lots of them, all with matching shirts and dungarees, all sporting different hats and baskets of fruits. A farming friend Sean Charlton, was the supplier of the strawberries. The prop stylists were the most busy they’ve ever been during the 5 days. The Subaru was supposed to just clip the baskets hanging from each scarecrow, keeping the scarecrow standing. Most of the time however, at least one of the scarecrows also fell down, the prop men ran on and re-set the scarecrows. Another take. Another damaged scarecrow or two. This scene definitely took the most takes and the most patience.
Creating the stunts for The Grand Tour
Between the grounds worker, art department, production and the prop company, a whole spectrum of backdrops were created on the farm for the drivers to manoeuvre around or smash through, in such a precise and fast manner. New watercourses, steeper banks, temporary barn doors, farm gates and fencing, were all built to an exact spec to ensure the stunts and scenes would work.
We were The Grand Tour’s farm location
We are super proud to have facilitated The Grand Tour’s filming of Farmkhana and to have hosted the crew on my own family farms, Hare Farm and Great Knights Farm. It’s a super example to show what really is possible and we look forward to many another shoot taking place on the farms. Watch this space in fact for Series 3. Richard Hammond visited us the next time – no lie.
To see the finished film and more photos, take a look here
The well trodden tracks created by the convoy of The Grand Tour crew vehicles
Clarkson’s Subaru has seen some action this week
Sneaking a peak from the farmhouse window
Filming enquiries for farm locations
If you have a challenging shoot brief which would suit a farm location, please contact me, Jo and I’ll do my very best to help you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07802 979348. Let’s make it happen.