This blog post has been contributed by Club member Les Thomas who led the recently-completed group production, Night Vision.
Included in each year’s Club Programme, is a ‘Project’ in which members form small working groups to try to bring an idea to fruition. The Project set for the past 2012 programme was ‘Filming in the Dark’. We knew that we had two locations available at which we could try out the possibilities of eventually creating a film. We had been given permission by Natural England to film in the Formby Pine Woods at night and a large cellar was available.
The first meeting of the group was a kind of brainstorming at which ideas, however bizarre or unreal, were thrown around. I made some notes, and drew up a rough script trying to reflect the comments and suggestions that were made at our first meeting. When I brought this back to the group next week, we again expanded the possibilities and deleted those things that seemed too implausible. It was three o’clock in the morning when I woke up, reached across for pen and paper, and completed the script, which with a tweak or three would eventually become our completed project – ‘Night Vision’.
Casting for the film was relatively easy as we were to seek the cast from our own Club’s membership (Normally, we would look to the local amateur dramatic societies to provide good, but free, acting ability). Along with the crew, who would film the story, we made location visits, including in darkness, to gauge the most effective use of these spots. The woods in darkness presented some challenges, particularly in terms of the uneven ground, but more especially the right level of lighting. We wanted to maintain a moderate sense of fear and suspense, and so to flood the scene with light would be counter-productive. This, after all, was the purpose of the project, although some adjustment could and would be made at the editing stage.
Filming at Night
Night Vision - Title
We needed to push on with the filming outside, for although we had had our discussions at the Club on dark winter nights, Spring was round the corner and the evenings were becoming lighter longer. When we finally gathered in the woods, it was mid-April. ‘Night Vision’ is the story of a film within a film, which took some of us time to adjust to. As the filming progressed it came together and we all enjoyed the experience. Filming in the cellar offered all kinds of possibilities, and more freedom, for example, as the small windows could be easily covered and blacked out. Experiments in lighting the cellar made us conclude that candle light would be more effective in terms of the setting. We used a moderate amount of LED lighting. The props and costumes were few, and proved easy to acquire. A Club member was able to provide costumes used some time before for a fancy dress party. Falling dust proved pleasant as it came from a talcum powder container, always taking care to keep it away from the sensitive cameras. Extensive use was made of chroma key for the police station and Television News studio, I believe to good effect.
Night Vision - Title
The final production of ‘Night Vision’ is a good example of what is possible when a group of keen amateur movie makers is set the challenge to do something a bit different. We hope that the film might be entered into the inter-club competitions in the coming year 2012-13.