ASPIRING Sussex actors used to have a far less arduous journey to reach the epicentre of the film industry than those today.

Rather than a 15-hour flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, thespians aiming for silver screen success could instead make the short trip to Shoreham.

In the late 19th century, a fisherman decided to settle on an empty patch of shingle at the mouth of the River Adur. He was clearly something of a trend setter as many people chose to follow suit, including a music-hall star called Marie Loftus. She, in turn, encouraged those with stars in their eyes to visit her home, a retired railway carriage she had transformed into an appealing bungalow. Soon, the fashionably transformed carriages became popular with other performers moving to the coast to live in them.

One, Will Evans, formed the Sunny South Film Company alongside stage designer Francis Lyndhurst and the pair set out to create a series of bite-size comedy clips.

In 1915, a larger film company from Manchester cherry-picked the area as the perfect place to film. So, the Progress Film Company set up shop in Shoreham, sparking eight years of fervent film-making in the town.

Director Sidney Morgan set about shooting 17 films over three years, with most featuring his daughter, Joan. She was offered a contract in Hollywood, which was in its early stages, but her father turned it down for her, leading to her eventual decision to become a writer and novelist.

But in 1923, the Shoreham site was ravaged by a devastating blaze and it was thought none of the films recorded at the studio had survived. Three have since been found.

Today we celebrate Sussex’s rich film history with eight films which have been made here.

The Argus:

A Visit To The Seaside

THE 1908 film A Visit To The Seaside shows a selection of colourful scenes filmed in and around Brighton.

The eight-minute string of clips was shot using an early two-colour process called Kinemacolor and was the first colour film produced for commercial exhibition.

As a result, it has been described as having a “high historical importance”.

This filming technique was later replaced by Technicolor in 1916, but it had several key influences on its successor.

The film features brightly dressed Brightonians having fun in the sun on the seafront.

One woman plays in the waves in a bathing suit while others dance in a music scene.

Another scene shows large, horse-drawn carriages being driven through the streets.

Meanwhile, other beachgoers choose to travel by foot.

A bustling promenade is packed with glamorously dressed women in floor-length dresses, often accompanied by gentleman in full suits and trilby hats.

The Argus:


PERHAPS Sussex’s most notable film export, Quadrophenia, has become a cult classic with its depiction of mod culture.

Jimmy, played by Phil Daniels, escapes his London job as a mailroom boy and makes a beeline for Brighton, where he becomes swept up in an action-packed lifestyle of partying, drug-taking and, of course, riding scooters.

Many of Brighton’s stand-out sites feature in the 1979 film, with characters gathering by the Madeira Arches after travelling down from London.

Police frontman Sting, playing mod Ace Face, also works as a bell boy at The Grand hotel.

The film, based loosely on The Who’s rock opera of the same name, is soundtracked by songs from album.

The Argus:

Carry On Girls

THE classic Carry On film franchise made the trip to the South Coast in 1973 for Carry On Girls.

Sid James and company shot the comedy at locations across Brighton, though it was rebranded as the fictional seaside town of Fircombe for the film.

The West Pier and now defunct Peter Pan’s Playground appear widely, while the old Clarges Hotel on the seafront was the scene of a riotous bathing costume fight scene between Barbara Windsor – playing diminutive biker Hope Springs – and beauty contest competitor Dawn Brakes, played by Margaret Nolan.

The film had several of its more risque scenes removed so it could have a commercially appropriate certificate.

It was also noted for the absence of former Carry On staples Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey.

Williams had been appearing in a West End show, My Fat Friend, at the time while Hawtrey was dropped from the films the previous year.

The Argus:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

IN 2004, the Harry Potter film crew brought the magic to Sussex as they shot an, albeit short, scene in the county.

The Downs were hand-picked by producers to be the backdrop for the fourth film’s quidditch scenes – a sport in the wizarding world in which teams compete to score points by tossing balls through hoops and chasing down a deceptive Golden Snitch while riding on the back of floating broomsticks.

At the time of filming, in 2004, The Argus agreed not to reveal shooting schedules amid fears that enchanted Potter fans would travel in their droves to the site to catch a glimpse of their screen heroes.

The £170 million blockbuster, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, was released in November the following year and made almost £725 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing international and worldwide release of 2005.

The Argus:

James Bond: A View To A Kill

IN 1985, James Bond came to Sussex.

The 14th Bond film sees Roger Moore’s Bond face off against antagonist Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken.

The villain plans to flood Silicon Valley by causing an earthquake in the San Andreas Fault at high tide.

He mines underneath lakes in the area and plans to blast through the lake beds in order to flood the fault. But, in reality, the mines were far from American shores.

The scenes showing the exterior of the site were actually shot at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre north of Arundel.

The entrance to the “Main Strike Mine”, a quarry tunnel near Brockham Station, can still be seen at the 36-acre site.

The scene which shows the mine is shortly followed by the blowing up of May Day, played by Grace Jones.

The Argus:

Brighton Rock

GANGSTER film Brighton Rock showed a darker side to the resort.

Starring Richard Attenborough as violent gang leader Pinkie Brown, the 1948 film was adapted from the novel of the same name published a decade before.

It was largely shot on location in Brighton with some of the chase scenes in the film captured by hidden cameras amid shoppers and residents who were completely unaware they were walking through a makeshift film set.

The story’s climax takes place on Palace Pier, potentially a cinematic choice as the novel actually has the characters playing out the final moments in nearby Peacehaven.

A tale of death and deceit, another film of the same name was made and released in 2010.

But only small parts of this version, which was more loosely based on Graham Greene’s 1938 novel, were actually filmed in Brighton.

Producers instead chose to shoot many scenes in Eastbourne, with its pier standing in for the Palace Pier in the film’s final scene.

An all-star cast collaborated to create the updated picture, with Andy Serkis, John Hurt and Helen Mirren among them.

The Argus:

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

ANGUS, Thongs And Perfect Snogging is a British coming of age story.

The 2008 film follows the life of 14-year-old Georgia Nicholson as she tries to find a boyfriend in Eastbourne while organising her 15th birthday party.

But it was actually filmed in Brighton as well.

Georgia lives in a house in Borough Street and in one scene she is filmed trundling down Prince Albert Street dressed as an oversized stuffed olive after misreading a fancy dress party theme.

The Palace Pier and Brighton Marina also feature in the 2008 film, while the protagonist is also treated to “snogging lessons” at a house in Roedean Way.

Eastbourne Pier also stars in a scene where Georgia and three friends follow a boy she has taken a shine to.

The story follows the four girls as they look for love on the Sussex coast, with Georgia falling head over heels for her school’s resident heart-throb, Robbie.

Despite repeatedly making a fool of herself – including an incident in which her heavily fake-tanned legs are accused of looking like “cheesy Wotsits” when she visits an outdoor swimming pool – she eventually lands her dream man.

The Argus:

Hope Gap

HOPE Gap, filmed partly at the beauty spot near Seaford, is set to be released later this year.

A trailer for the film shows stars Bill Nighy and Annette Bening appearing against a backdrop of Seaford Head.

Recognisable features from the town in the film’s trailer include the railway station, Splash Point, Seven Sisters and Hope Gap – the distinctive area of chalk cliff between Seaford and Cuckmere Haven.

The picture follows the lives of Edward (Love Actually and About Time’s Bill Nighy) and Grace (four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening).

Nighy’s character makes a shock announcement to his wife of 29 years, saying he wants a divorce, and the film details the impact his decision has on both their lives, as well as that of their son.

It has been awarded a 7.4 rating by film website IMDb, but Kevin Maher of The Times panned it, giving it one star out of a possible five after viewing it at the London Film Festival.

He said: “A cataclysmic casting decision combined with desperately flabby writing have conspired to transform this high-calibre divorce drama into the dud of the festival so far.”

It is rumoured that during shooting, Nighy took a break from the film set and made the short trip west to Brighton. VIP Pizza in Old Steine has a picture of the actor proudly displayed on its wall.