Can he fix it? Yes he can! Wim Goossens of Bulletproof Cupid provided the production services when the Tim Burton film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children came to shoot for three weeks in Flanders last summer.
Criss-crossing Belgium from film set to film set in his red Alfa Romeo, Wim Goossens clocks up 45,000km a year - not bad in a country which measures just over 200km from one end to the other. He co-owns Bulletproof Cupid, a film production company that also provides full production services, location services and pretty much anything else a foreign producer may require. Additionally he also manages an equipment rental company. His email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - says it all. “I know what to do and people know how to find me,” is how he puts it.
Among those to track him down recently was Hollywood-based Chernin Entertainment looking for a location for the new Tim Burton film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is due to be released by Fox on Christmas Day 2016. The film stars Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Terence Stamp, Kim Dickens, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson. Based on a bestselling children’s book by Ransom Riggs, it follows 17-year-old Jacob (Butterfield) as he travels to a remote Welsh island where some scary stuff has been going on.
The producers approached Goossens when the original location for the Home - the abandoned Chateau Notteboom near Antwerp, which supposedly inspired the book – had fallen through. His assistant and location scout Annabel François came up with another Gothic folly nearby, the Torenhof Castle in Brasschaat, which turned out to be perfect. Why? “Well, first of all the owner was willing to co-operate,” chuckles Goossens. “But you could also sense something a bit weird about that place. It’s close to the city but it seems like it’s hidden in the woods far, far away from everything. The architecture was right: the pond around it, the garden - everything.” There were other benefits, too. “There were major roadworks during the whole period we needed which meant that the road out front was closed off during shooting, but not specifically because of us, which was great.” And there were also, inevitably, challenges. “There was a school festival which had rock shows and a DJ set and things like that planned on a field right next to the location on our first shooting day which we found out quite late because everybody forgot to tell us,” says Goossens, who quickly donned his Mr Fix-It hat.
“We sat down with the local mayor, who was very open to finding a solution, and then we approached the school and tried to find something that could work for all parties. In the end, we found them another location and moved the whole festival!”
Before Miss Peregrine, Goossens had worked on other Hollywood movies, including The Fifth Estate and Guardians of the Galaxy, and claims to prefer what he calls “the Anglo-Saxon way of working”. “It’s not just because they have more money - although of course they do,” he says. “It’s not like you get a big bag of it and you can do whatever you want: you still have to be creative. But there’s something about the hierarchy and the professionalism. I like it very much.”