Cochrane on film: Diary of a Residence in Chile

Diary of a Residence in Chile is a historical drama based on the diary of the British travel-writer Maria Graham, who came to Chile in April 1822, as the country was becoming independent from Spain. Widowed en route, she flouted convention by remaining in Chile for nine months. During that time, she befriended Admiral Lord Cochrane.

The project began in November 2008 when the director Valeria Sarmiento asked me to play the role of Maria Graham in a project she had in mind. She then suggested that I write the script as well and that we submit it for funding from the Chilean board of television funding. I started working straight away, we got the funding for four episodes and it all started to come together.

Miriam Heard as Maria Graham in Diary of a Residence in Chile
Miriam Heard as Maria Graham in Diary of a Residence in Chile.

We shot the material in Chile, in 40 days, in a hangar on the old airport outside of Santiago, in the boiling summer heat of January 2011. Valeria and the Chilean producers put together a fantastic crew and the whole experience was one extremely joyous creative challenge and experiment after another.

The crew who worked on Diary of a Residence in Chile
The cast and crew of Diary of a Residence in Chile.

Sean O’Callaghan, with whom I’d worked on a Howard Barker play in London, was cast as Lord Cochrane, and did a phenomenal job. He’s about to play a part in a big Portuguese production about Wellington, also directed by Valeria Sarmiento, and starring John Malkovich.

Sean O'Callaghan as Admiral Cochrane
Sean O’Callaghan as Admiral Cochrane.

After the shoot the post production took several months. We shot against green screen and it all had to be incrusted into shots of the beautiful little models made by Juan-Carlos Soler. The post production of the TV version for Chilean television is now ready, and a film version is being prepared.

Shooting against a green screen
Shooting against a green screen.
Sean O'Callaghan on horseback
Sean O’Callaghan on horseback – he had to spend quite a lot of time up there, luckily Chilean horses tend to be very calm and quiet!

You can see a trailer for the series (in Spanish) here:

You can also see excerpts from the series here:

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