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Filming to start in Newark for ‘blockbuster’ Civil War app

Hollywood comes to the streets of Newark today (Thursday 14 August) with the filming of a historical blockbuster boasting fabulous story lines and incredible special effects.

But you won’t see the final result on the big screen – quite the opposite in fact!

Dramatic costumed scenes will be used in a cutting edge ‘augmented reality’ town trail app for visitors – one of the most ambitious attempted in the UK.  A cast of one hundred led by professional actors will recall episodes from Newark’s pivotal role in the 17th century British Civil Wars, adding eye-witness reflections on a turbulent time. Leading parts include the dashing but ill-fated Prince Rupert and Henrietta Maria, King Charles’ wife and self-styled female “generalissimo”.

The project will complement Newark’s new £5.4m National Civil War Centre, which is due to open early next year. Together they will provide a massive boost to tourism.

Deborah Johnson, project manager at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “We have taken the concept of a town history trail – printed storyboards, map and leaflet – and launched it into the space age.”

Holding up a smart phone or tablet camera to a so-called ‘trigger scene’ will result in historical characters coming to life on screen. Not just the great and the good, but the ordinary people of Newark who endured a terrible plague and deadly shell fire.

“The technology uses wi-fi, GPS and the video capabilities of smart devices to produce an amazing effect. Point your camera at Newark Castle from the bandstand and historical figures will leap into life on screen, perfectly framed.  Elsewhere, King Charles will  berate his nephew Prince Rupert.  This is not about using technology for it’s own sake – it is an extraordinary way of transporting people back in time. The British Civil Wars were the deadliest in the nation’s history, shaping so much of our modern world.   Our mission is to link people with their past in the best and most enjoyable way.”

On location filming will take place throughout August and September by Nottingham-based film production company, Spool. Computer generated imagery will be included in the app to recreate the 17th century view of Newark from the church spire – once a Civil War lookout point – and a re-built Newark Castle.

Key to the project is the high bandwidth wireless technology being piloted in Newark by communications firm O2 Telefonica as part of a ground breaking agreement with the council.  By providing fast and free wi-fi across the town centre and at outlying historic locations such as the Queen’s Sconce earthen fort, O2 Telefonica will refine the technology before rolling it out elsewhere in the UK. Newark will benefit from a valuable on-going legacy.

Deborah Johnson added: “The National Civil War Centre and town trail app will tell the story of Newark’s defining role in the conflict. People spending time exploring the town will also mean increased footfall on the High Street, which is great for local businesses. This is pretty much pioneering stuff, but the hardest thing has been deciding what stories to leave out of the trail as there are so many.”

Councillor Diana Meale, Chair of Economic Development Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, which has backed Newark’s Civil War project with £500,000, said: “Developing the town trail app is a really exciting initiative, using the latest technology to bring Newark’s colourful Civil War history to life. Telling Newark’s story in this way will make it more accessible to visitors and contribute towards the big boost in tourism we are anticipating as a result of the new National Civil War Centre – which is good news for local businesses, residents and visitors.”

Many of the acting extras for the app have been cast from the local area.  An interactive siege fire game will be included together with bonus content for people visiting the National Civil War Centre, where some of the augmented reality footage will be shown.   Storylines will also be refreshed ensuring there is always something new to discover.  A traditional hard copy town trail leaflet will also be produced.  The free app will be launched early next year.

Please note: Newark Castle will be closed to the public for filming between 20 – 22 August.

Posted on 14 August 2014

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