Phew! We did it. After an exciting but very long day yesterday we are OSP are relaxing with a hot cross bun and a nice cup of Earl Grey this afternoon.
For those of you who are not regular readers of this blog, we have been planning a video for ‘Friends of St.Peters’ in Wolfhamcote (a small village in south Warwickshire). Christine Sanderson had the idea of creating an educational resource for local schools about the church and the area. We looked at various models but in the end they plumped for a video which could be used both by schools (together with a downloadable the script) and by the parish to make the public more aware of the church and area’s history.
(L-R Jenny, Bungle, Art, Ben, Gillian)
A Warwickshire film company were brought on board to film and edit the footage and I wrote the script and project managed the planning and preparations.
During the planning, I met with Jo Cross of the Churches Conservation Trust who offered guidance and some funding to enable the project to be completed with all the extras (like a portable loo at the location – which ironically was the only thing that didn’t go to plan – it arrived nearly 3 hours late, which with more than 40 people down there at one point was less than satisfactory)
Actors, Costume Supervisor (Jenny Pulley) and an excellent runner (well done Ben – you were a star!) were appointed and Christine made connections with an early English Choir (or Quire as they are known) who came along appropriately dressed together with the most interesting instruments to provide the music.
Now all we had to contend with was the weather!! And for those of you who are reading this from the other side of the world, it has rained for nearly 40 days and 40 nights of late and the location had been a complete quagmire only 24 hours earlier. Thankfully we were blessed with sunshine which dried out the worst of it and whilst many of us were in wellies, the long dresses and cavelier hats were spared both rain and sludge (much to Jenny, our costume supervisors relief).
The day started early (welcome to the world of filming) so to make the most of the day, however events over took us when the film crew were involved in a car accident en route. Thankfully nobody was hurt, however it did mean that we were running late from the start of the day so the pressure was on to ensure we got through what was an action packed day with numerous locations in and around the church area.
Again having good weather enabled us to film all day and gave us at least an hour longer than we might otherwise have had. We also managed to get some electricity into the church (with cables from a local farm house – thank you!) which meant that we were able to pick up some final shots inside at the end of the day using the lights.
(Gareth and Dai running lines in situ)
We started the day with Gareth Wyn-Jones (who was playing the time team type character, similar to Tony Robinson) and Dai Weaver (the local historian) filming what was the most difficult piece of dialogue over by the railway track. After we had this scene under our belt we headed down to nearer the church to do the Jurassic period dialogue (together with a HUGE fossel – and I am not being rude about one of the team!) whilst the actors and Quire started to arrive at Christine and Brian’s house. (We had decided that due to the inclement weather during the past few weeks that it was better to have everyone up at the house – which had been turned into a film set with the conservatory for the quire to rehearse their pieces, dressing rooms, hair design room, a green room and constant refreshments/ food. Down by the church there was also a trailer with cooking facilities for soup and tea on set.)
(Laura Edghill & Laurence Saunders discussing their scene as Laura curls her hair)
It had been decided that two people would ferry people to the locations when they were called on their mobiles to say we were ready. This also meant that we could ensure that the noise levels / cars appearing in shot etc were kept to a minimum. It was a 10 minute walk from the house to the church so as the weather was good, there was the option to walk and lift costumes out of the mud if wanted.
Mid morning there was some confusion when the Quire arrived at the church at the original time that they were scheduled to rehearse/ be recorded (the but due to the delay in our schedule we were just about to film a scene with Gareth and Dai, just outside the doors of the church, which meant they did have to sit very quietly in what was a freezing church – no heating in the 1600’s – for quite a while) but in the end it turned out well as Zak Hamza who was making the story of the making of the video was able to interview them in appropriate surroundings.
(Zak capturing the story behind the story)
The extras (many from the local yoga group) joined us for the baptism scene (during the civil war) so we had a full church at this point to witness lovely underplayed performances by Laura and Laurence as the Lord and Lady of the Manor; ably captured by Bungle the Sound Engineer and the acting debut of Brian Sanderson who stood in at the vicar (and who it was agreed by all , had an excellent voice for the church!).
Laura’s hat played a starring role in the scene; now I am not saying that Laura has a big head but lets say despite me hitting the hat (!) to try and make it go on more firmly it managed to do a 180 degree turn into camera of its own fruition just at the vital moment at the end of the scene when she looked at the door!
(Fiona Allison and Andrea Cobham as ladies in 1711 gossiping about Queen Anne)
The lesson is never work with felt hats with feathers , flies….. or horses! In the afternoon Fiona endured a shot with a fly jumping between her beautifully lacquered ringlets (created by the very talented Sue Haynes) and her eyelash and later in the day, Keith Fredericks was doing a Medieval scene with Jake Fitzpatrick on the mound where the village once stood when a group of horses (unfortunately wearing 21st Century blankets) decided they they wanted to get into the shot. Rather like those people who wave at the camera behind a presenter in a shopping centre they paraded around until Keith decided to imbibe his Lord of the Manor status and order them away. The crew laughed so much at the figure of someone dressed rather like Merlin, with a scroll held aloft, running towards and ’shooing’ horses who thought it was a new game, that unfortunately the moment was not captured on camera!
(Keith as Lord Thorkil looking stern!)
We finished as darkness fell and the last costumes were returned, the lights and cameras were packed away and we returned to the house shattered but also very pleased with a good days work.
The final cut won’t be available for a month or so but with the extra special effects and the pick up shots that Art the film maker gets today we should have an end product we are happy with.
Thanks to all the cast and crew who made the day such a productive and happy one.
<(Anthony Miles & Anthony Fearnley as Royalists)
(Extras as the crowd waiting to see Queen Anne)>
(Jake as the Medieval man servant to Lord Thorkill looking very brow beaten next to the elegant Civil War Soldiers – costumes provided by’ Vintage Years’ of Leicester)
I will leave the last word to Christine who was the driving force behind the project from conception:
” Everybody worked so well together as a team, they all turned up on time and did what they were supposed to do, really well and there was such a lovely atmosphere. If the rest of the country worked like this we wouldn’t be in a mess.”