30 June, 2014

How to Develop Your Film Ideas

At a Club meeting in June, Alex Montague, the Club Programme Secretary, made a presentation to the members on the subject of Developing Ideas in Film-making: How to create a story? You can see the presentation below. Use the practical ideas in the presentation to help your own film projects.

29 June, 2014

Summer Break

The Club is now taking its summer break for July and August. However, the Committee will be continuing working in the background in preparation for the NEW 2014/15 year.

18 June, 2014

Success at Bolton Movie Challenge 2014

One of the positive elements about being part of a network of clubs nationally via the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers (IAC) is that, on a regular basis, we have the opportunity of competing with one another. Cumulatively, this contributes to raising standards, as does competition in any field.

On 22 May, Southport MovieMakers competed against 7 other clubs from around the North West in a competition entitled the Bolton Movie Challenge, hosted by Bolton MovieMakers. We won.

Our winning film was our recent production, Ransom, directed by our recently-deceased highly-talented member Nigel Barton. Our Chairman, Peter Ravenscroft, said when he spoke receiving the award, that it was "entirely fitting" that Nigel's talent should be recognised with this success. Once again, the success is a tribute to Nigel's talent. Moreover, it is a tribute to the team effort that contributed to the success of Ransom.

If you would like to become a member of Southport MovieMakers and actively contribute to our future success, please contact us:

14 June, 2014

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

A great strength of Southport MovieMakers in that it mixes together the energy of youth with a foundation of many years of experience of film-making. For example, our newly-appointed Programme Secretary, Alex Montague is a very recent Film graduate from Edge Hill University and another newly-appointed member of the Management Committee, our Publicity & Recruitment Officer, Sarah Pollitt, has just finished the second year of her undergraduate degree at Liverpool University. At the other extreme, our older members are well into their retirement years. Older and younger film-makers have much to offer each other.

In recognition of many years of contributing to the life of the Club in so many ways, Ashby Ball, Geoff Williams and Jim Morris earlier this year were awarded Honorary Life Memberships of the Club.

In addition, last month, Paul Bagshaw, another of our older, highly-experienced members became the first recipient of the NEW Nigel Barton Trophy, in recognition of his skill as a film-maker. This award was created in the wake of the recent death of our valued member Nigel Barton.

Paul Bagshaw

In this age when older people are sometimes overlooked, it is important to recognise and celebrate the skills and knowledge that older people bring from a lifetime of experience. In this context, it is interesting to note that Channel 4 is currently acknowledging the value of older people in their series Mary's Silver Service.

Ashby Ball and Geoff Williams - Founder Members of Southport MovieMakers

Whether you're in your 20s or your 80s, 
you can always learn new things.

13 June, 2014

Success for Burnley at Inter-club Competition 2014

Last Thursday, 5 June, at our annual Inter-club Competition, Burnley Film Makers walked away with the trophy for their winning documentary film 'Antiques Roadshow', looking at when the BBC programme visited Towneley Hall near Burnley in Lancashire. It is to the immense credit of the Burnley club that they managed to acquire significant behind-the-scenes access to the BBC staff, including the Production Manager, the presenter Fiona Bruce and the programme's producer, Michele Burgess.

Congratulations to Burnley!!

06 June, 2014

Club Launches NEW Library for Members

Southport MovieMakers is pleased to announce the launch of a  NEW Club Library for members. The Club is able to do this due to receiving a substantial donation of books arising from the death of its recently-deceased highly valued member Nigel Barton.

The books cover a range of aspects of film-making including screenwriting, producing and directing. The members will benefit greatly from being able to consult these sources in the development of future Club productions. The Library will be another facet of the significant legacy left by Nigel within Southport MovieMakers and the Club thanks Nigel's family very much for this donation.

"The Machine Stops" - Premiere

On 12 June, our member Michael Alley will be presenting the premiere of his new film The Machine Stops, based on E.M. Forster's book of the same title.

The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge.

The story begins…..
Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. Read more.

Forster was concerned about human dependence on technology. Although the book was published in 1909, it is just as relevant today as it was back in 1909. Perhaps even moreso. Consider the Internet.

Members are encouraged to attend this evening to support the screening of Michael’s new film.

31 May, 2014

Inter-club Competition 2014

On 5 June, this year's Inter-club Competition will take place. Since 1967, Southport MovieMakers has been hosting an annual Inter-club Competition between clubs from around the North West. The clubs taking part this year will be:

  • Morecambe Bay Movie Makers
  • Swan Movie Makers
  • Southport MovieMakers
  • Bolton MovieMakers
  • Preston MovieMakers
  • Burnley Film Makers

In the past, the organisation of the event has been shared between all of the participating clubs. However, this year Southport MovieMakers is proud to be the sole organiser and host of the event.

Inter-club Competition 2014

18 May, 2014

Club Year - Summer 2014

This year, the Club, rather than breaking at the end of July, will be finishing the year at the end of June. Enjoy your summer break.

Review of the Year

A key event takes place on 29 May. That event is the Review of the Year. It is the members' opportunity to express their views:

  1. What you liked about the last year?
  2. What you DIDN'T like about the last year?
  3. What you'd like to see more of in the future?
  4. Is there anything you'd like the Club to do that we haven't done before?
  5. Would you like to hear external speakers? If so, on what subjects?
  6. What technical skills do you want to learn more about?

If there is anything that could be improved, now is your chance to have your say.  

With the commencement of the new Club year 2014/15, the new Committee has started work and our new Programme Secretary, Alex Montague, has begun work on developing the Programme  for 2014/15. But your input is crucial to make the Club relevant to its members - YOU.

Alex Montague
NEW Programme Secretary

If you can't get to the meeting on 29 May, contact Alex directly:

Remember, it is your Club.
Make it Relevant to You.

Bolton Movie Challenge

As the Club is not meeting next Thursday (22 May) on account of the local and Euro elections, members are encouraged to attend the Bolton Movie Challenge. If you would like to attend, please register below, so that we can organise the travel arrangements.

18 April, 2014

Jaws is the Last of the Great Disaster Films of the 1970s

Earlier this year, we presented an evening dedicated to that memorable film, Jaws. Here, our Chairman, Peter Ravenscroft, presents his personal appreciation of this landmark film.

is the last of the great disaster films of the 1970s.  In an era of intense paranoia on both sides of the Atlantic, the disaster genre fulfilled the cathartic needs of its audience, pitting vulnerable humanity against the seemingly unstoppable forces of nature.  Films like The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), Earthquake (1974) and many more demonstrated man’s resilience in the face of danger.  The key message?  Do your worst because mankind is here to stay!

With the USA’s ultimate withdrawal from Vietnam in the mid-1970s, the disaster genre began to wane; the predominant source of tension and division that fuelled the insecurity of a nation had been relieved.  Almost. However, with one final and masterful flourish in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, mankind once again found itself out of its depth and in the teeth of trouble.

A film adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel had been mooted before the ink was even dry on the manuscript.  The author had been struck with inspiration while holidaying at the beach, positing the idea of a giant shark snacking on oblivious bathers.  He also found a genuine horror story from history: along the New England coast in the summer of 1916, a single shark had fatally attacked four bathers in the space of a week. The nightmare scenario was all too plausible.

Producers Zanuck and Brown at Universal were keen to tackle the project if they could find the right director.  Spielberg was not their first choice but was drafted in following a notorious meeting in which the initial director outlined his vision for the opening shots of the film, describing how the “whale” would lunge from the water to helpless screams from the terrified audience.

Zanuck and Brown also found they had bit off more than they could chew, having believed that a great white shark, the nominal star of the film, could be tamed and trained in much the same way as the birds had in Hitchcock’s picture.  They were soon put straight on that matter.

The production hell that became Jaws has been well documented and will not be repeated here, save to say that the film that ultimately kick-started Spielberg’s career could easily have seen it sink without trace, as the movie’s allocated budget spiralled out of control and genuine forces of nature, namely the ocean, caused shooting schedules to be delayed over and over again.  Anyone interested in reading a first-hand account of the turbulent production should track down a copy of screenwriter Carl Gottlieb’s The Jaws Log and marvel at the miracle of the film’s ultimate completion.

Triumph over adversity is evident in the film’s ultimate success.  Jaws broke box office records for 1975, becoming the first film in history to earn over $100m at the box office.  It is also the movie credited with spawning the summer blockbuster; event films with a wide opening designed to attract massive audiences across the globe.  It was also one of the most heavily merchandised films of the pre-Star Wars era, although Spielberg himself vetoed the idea of shark shaped jelly sweets that oozed red goo when bitten into.

My first encounter with the twenty-five foot behemoth of cinema legend occurred in 1985, ten years after the film’s release, when it was shown on terrestrial television.  I cried.  Not at the severed limbs, devoured children or blood and gore.  No.  I blubbed when the shark was blown to smithereens.  I was only five at the time, by the way, and already rooting for the screen villain; a trait which continues to this day, but that’s another story.

Since then, I have been captivated by the film.  Its storyline, its ingenuity, its characters.  Its soul. Jaws is more than just a film; it is a phenomenon, a cultural icon.  I have watched its sequels countless times.  Yes, even the risible Jaws 3 and the nadir of the franchise, Jaws: The Revenge – although I still experienced a frisson at seeing one of the full size shark props from the latter on the back lot of the Universal Studios tour in the early 90s.

Another of the most captivating aspects of the film were its three leads: Chief Brody, played by the late Roy Scheider, Matt Hooper the young oceanographer, played by Richard Dreyfuss, and most laudable of all, the grizzled shark hunter and USS Indianapolis survivor Quint, played by Robert Shaw. Why Robert Shaw in particular?  I’ll tell you in a moment.

Difficult though it is to imagine the part of Quint without the British character actor and playwright in the role, Shaw was not the first choice for the part of Quint.  Charlton Heston was interested, although it was felt that his presence would be too big a name and would distract from the film itself.

Lee Marvin was approached but, as an avid big game fisherman himself, declared he would rather be out catching real big fish than stuck in a water tank shooting a film about them.

Spielberg advocated Sterling Hayden but he was not interested in the part either.  And so, eventually, the part was offered to Shaw.  Spielberg felt the actor’s considerable stature and screen presence would provide a believable human foil for the bloodthirsty denizen of the deep.

So why my interest in Robert Shaw?  Simple.  From a very early age, I’ve been fascinated by the dead.  No really.  My parents will tell you that my first question regarding any actor or singer upon first encountering their works would be, “Are they dead?” or its variant, “Are they still alive?”  Robert Shaw was one of the first famous faces on the receiving end of my morbid questioning to receive the answer, “Yes.  I think he is.” In fact, Shaw died in 1978, only three years after the success of Jaws.  He fell ill while driving with his family through County Mayo in Ireland, stopped the car and suffered a fatal heart attack at the roadside.  A memorial to him stands in County Mayo.

Any movie buffs in Lancashire and the surrounding area may be interested to know that Robert Shaw was born in Westhoughton, and a pub called The Robert Shaw, part of the JD Wetherspoon chain, can be patronised in the town.

The actor remains fondly remembered for his colourful portrayal of Quint in Jaws but also for his terrifying portrayal of one of the very best James Bond villains, Donald ‘Red’ Grant in From Russia With Love (1963), a young Henry VIII in A Man For All Seasons (1966), and for his star turn as gangster Doyle Lonnegan in The Sting (1973).  One of his final film roles was as Romer Treece in another Peter Benchley adaptation The Deep (1977).

For a generation of movie-goers, Jaws remains one of the finest films ever made, mixing genuine thrills with human drama.  It is far more than just a monster movie and remains a landmark in cinema history.

Oh, and then there’s that theme tune…

The Egg

This evening, of the selection of films that we viewed from the British International Amateur Film Festival (BIAFF) 2013, one film that had many of us laughing out loud was a film entitled "The Egg". At BIAFF, the film was awarded 5-Stars and Best Comedy Award. The film was directed by our respected colleague from West Yorkshire, Bob Lorrimer. Let's hope it has you laughing as well.

Take one disgraced 'Bureaucrat' and watch him boil an egg ... while the paparazzi wait with long lenses. What could go wrong?

14 April, 2014

NOW AVAILABLE: DVD of Southport on Film: A Nostalgic View of the Classic Resort

Southport MovieMakers is pleased to present a compilation of some of its productions focused on its home town of Southport including:

Southport (1958)
Made for Southport Corporation Tourism and Attractions Department. Commentary by BBC newsreader Alvar Liddel.

Royal Visitors to Southport (1955)
The visit of HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip. Also includes a visit by HRH Princess Margaret later that year.

Walk a Gentle Mile (1985)
A look at how our famous Lord Street originated and developed.

The End of the Pier? (1991)
The history of Southport Pier from its construction in 1859/60 to the threatened demolition in 1990.

Lord Street

Southport Pier

06 April, 2014

Films from BIAFF

On 17 April, we'll be screening a selection of films from BIAFF 2013. There are too many films available to show them all, but you will see some of the following films:

The Top Award Show
‘Present from the Past’ (Diamond Award, Winner of Daily Mail Challenge Trophy for Best Film in Festival)
‘No Regrets’ (Diamond Award, Best British Young Film Maker, Best British Film in Festival)
‘The Last of the Wolfgang’ (Diamond Award, Best Documentary)
‘Wild North Staffordshire’ (Diamond Award, Best Photography)
‘The Jumblies’ (Diamond Award, Best Animation)
‘Thinking Time’ (Diamond Award, Best Editing)
‘The Egg’ (5 Stars, Best Comedy)

Other Films
‘Mysterious Island’ (4 Stars)
‘Edgar’s Egg’ (4 Stars)
‘Just Friends’ (4 Stars)
‘The Date’ (4 Stars)
‘Mindbreak Diamond’
‘Billy’ (4 Stars)
‘Zwischenstopp’ (Diamond Award)
‘Mon Petit Bonhomme’ (5 Stars)
‘Sofiah’ (4 Stars)
‘Stars of the Sussex Downs’ (3 Stars)
‘War of Words’ (2 Stars, Best Under 16, Music Sponsors’ Prize) 

28 March, 2014

The Invisible Man

Our Chairman, Peter Ravenscroft, will present an evening considering the 1933 film The Invisible Man, directed by James Whale. This film straddles the genres of drama, horror and sci-fi.

The meeting takes place next Thursday 3 April, 8-10 p.m.

The Invisible Man

Day: Thursday 3 April
Time: 8 pm – 10.00 pm
Location: St James' Church Hall,
Lulworth Road, Southport, PR8 2BQ.

20 February, 2014

New Photograph of Recent Film - Circles

We are pleased to add a new photograph to our Photographic Collection. This photograph comes from a recent production, Circles, produced and directed by Michael Alley. This film is categorised as being experimental, on the theme of Circles. Perhaps the image below reflects this perspective:

Lord Street, Southport.

To find out more about the film, see the film in our Film Catalogue:

More images in our Gallery.

19 February, 2014

Resources to Support our Film-makers

We have just restructured the Resources section of our web site. Our Resources includes resources relating to hands-on film-making, whether based on the direct experience of Southport MovieMakers, individual members or insights gained from hearing visiting speakers. Selectively, some web resources are also included.

Specifically, we now present this facility in alphabetical format. For example, L for Lighting and Locations, C for Casting and I for Ideas.

Have a look and see if it stimulates you to develop a new film idea.

18 February, 2014

Southport MovieMakers' Film Catalogue: A Dynamic Resource

Recently, the Club announced the commencement of a significant new project – the creation of a catalogue covering all the films that the Club has made over the last 65 years, including films made by small groups within the Club and individual members.

The Catalogue will be addressing the past 65 years’ productions but will also be keeping up-to-date with the very recent, current – and future productions, so that, as the Club evolves, so does the Catalogue, reflecting that dynamism.

Our Archives Officer will be addressing the past but as regards the very recent, current and future – that’s where the members have direct input.

Southport MovieMakers’ Film Catalogue will provide the opportunity to:

1. Showcase members’ contributions to group productions
2. Showcase members’ individual productions
3. Provide members with the opportunity to learn more about the Club’s past, present – and future
4. Publicise even more what we are all about

It is a very big project for the Club and therefore when batches of the films have been fully catalogued, they will be published, on a gradual, ongoing basis.

So, how can members have direct input into this project and showcase their films?
Members are very much encouraged to submit their films to the Club Film Catalogue.
A dedicated page has been set-up on the Club web site for members to enter their films.

15 February, 2014


You do realise that ‘Jaws’ is a film about the Vietnam War, right? No?  Then pay attention this Thursday, as Chairman Pete shares his passion for a film that has captivated him since the age of five.  With anecdotes about, and analysis of, the film’s famous scenes, we re-examine the movie that kick-started, but could so easily have ended, Spielberg’s career.

Day: Thursday 20 February
Time: 8 pm – 10.00 pm
Location: St James' Church Hall,
Lulworth Road, Southport, PR8 2BQ.

07 February, 2014

"Not Another War Film"

On Thursday 13 February, our evening will be hosted by Club member Tony Glynn. As the title suggests, the subject is World War II but again, as the title suggests, the subject is most definitely NOT ANOTHER WAR FILM but rather, the effect of war. Let Tony explain.

Six years of war! It had an effect on everyone and everything but how did it affect the world of British cinema? What about the toilers in the studios, trying to shoot a production as the bombs were falling? What kind of films were produced? How did the war affect our favourite screen personalities? Who served in what uniform - and was anyone involved in espionage?

Tony Glynn hopes you will join him in stepping back to catch the feeling of those days and to become acquainted with some British screen gems - and you won't hear a shot fired!

 Edge of the Storm
Club Production 
Written by our speaker, Tony Glynn.

See more of our production photographs:
Visit Our Gallery

Come and hear Tony Speak
He is an authority on his subject

Day: Thursday 13 February
Time: 8 pm – 10.00 pm
Location: St James' Church Hall,
Lulworth Road, Southport, PR8 2BQ.

This event was scheduled for November last year but unfortunately had to be rearranged.

28 January, 2014

Competition Culture

We are pleased to announce that we have published a new page relating to Competitions on our web site. A competition culture is firmly established within the IAC and within Southport MovieMakers.  We compete at a local, regional, national and international level – and within our own Club. As most people appreciate, competition is a good way of raising standards and of benchmarking oneself against the competition, resulting, for us, in higher quality films. We are firmly committed to this culture and have enjoyed great success over the years.

Mersey Ten Competition 2011
The Hypnotist- Winner

Bolton Movie Challenge 2011
Final Justice - First Prize

27 January, 2014

Nigel Barton

The Club has just lost a dear and valued member in Nigel Barton who passed away on 16 January.

Nigel started to attend our Club meetings at the age of 13, being at that time a pupil at Ormskirk Grammar School.  His cousin Miles Tarplee from Hertfordshire used to stay with the family.  Together they made Super 8 cine films, often based on animation.

Nigel later attended Southport School of Arts & Crafts, followed by a TV production course in the north-east. There he directed a film made with his fellow students, involving acting as a stunt double, when he plunged from a hatch in the ceiling on to a mattress on the floor, dressed as a girl.  The film had a scene where a pedestrian is knocked down by a car.  The effect was produced by the actor vaulting over the bonnet of a stationary car.  The actor would not do this until Nigel had done it.  Nigel demonstrated the action and the actor then repeated it.  Unfortunately, the actor’s arm caught the windscreen, which shattered. Nobody was hurt, but the cost of replacing the windscreen was £100, which was the budget for the whole film.

Nigel later went to Goldsmith’s College in London, where he graduated.  The final part of his training was at the National Film & Television School at Beaconsfield, where he specialised in directing.

After working for some years in the film industry in London, mainly in editing, he moved back to Southport, where he found time to be involved in the writing and directing of a number of amateur films for the Club.

For three consecutive years these films won the Denham Gold Cup at the British International Amateur Film Festival. This is awarded for the best film made by an associated club of The Film & Video Institute.

The crowning glory came when one film, ‘Rent-A-Mate’ was selected by the Institute for entry into UNICA, the world-wide amateur film competition.  It was awarded a Gold Medal, and was declared to be ‘The Film of the Festival’.

As we look back at the filming over the years, it brings back reminiscences.  When shooting ‘The Reaper’, we had filmed a cellar sequence at another location, and it was late when we moved to an office car park to enact a sequence where a man is attacked by a cloaked figure wielding a scythe.  As we filmed in the early hours, there was a power surge, and the bulbs in our lights failed one by one.  We had to work quickly to complete the shoot by the time dawn came. Apparently somebody phoned the police to say they had seen a man with a severe back injury.  That was a tribute to the skills of our make-up girl.

For ‘Mummy’s Boys’, we arranged permission from the landlord of the Bold Arms pub at Churchtown to film there on a Sunday morning, before opening hours.  When we arrived, the landlord was not present, and the staff knew nothing about it.  It took them an hour to locate him and verify that the arrangement was genuine, before we were allowed to set up for the shoot.

Some MovieMakers’ members were often critical of the number of takes which Nigel requested when directing a film.  He had been taught the professional method of trying to obtain the most perfect take possible of each shot.  On one film, an elderly actor was not feeling well, and had to be replaced by a stand-in until the actual takes.  However, Nigel always ended up with a wide variety of material to select from in the editing process, ensuring excellent quality in the finished film.

It was only just before Christmas 2013, that Nigel completed his last film, 'Ransom'. His skills will be sorely missed in the Club.

Nigel Barton receiving one of his many awards.

Report in Southport Visiter:
Tributes paid to talented and respected film maker who was an inspiration to others

21 January, 2014

Chairman's Choice

Earlier this month, our Chairman, Peter Ravenscroft, presented a selection of his films. Here he writes about that selection:

I have been a member of Southport Moviemakers for 13 years, on and off (mostly off), and in that time I have produced a variety of film projects and been involved in many others.

The Chairman's Choice evening will feature a range of my work from over the past ten years and will include:

  • 'Who's There?' (2001): Only my second film, based on a nightmare and shot on my then state of the art Canon XL1
  • 'Thanks, Uncle Mike' (2002): A birthday party takes a turn for the worst when the guests arrive.  Featuring our very own Paul Bagshaw in a supporting role.
  • 'Tuesday Morning, 5.17' (2003): Arguably the film I am most proud of, this is the 2003 remake of my very first short film.  The reclusive Arthur is troubled by a visitation from two unwelcome guests and is forced to face up to things he would rather forget.
  • Examples of work I have completed in my academic career and a few tasters of my recent YouTube animations based on Doctor Who.

Revised Picture Gallery

We are pleased to announce that our Gallery now presents our films by genre: Comedy-Drama, Animation and Drama. As more films are supplied by our film-makers, they will be added to the Gallery.

19 January, 2014

Southport MovieMakers Launches NEW Film Catalogue

For 2014, Southport MovieMakers is pleased to announce the launch of a BRAND NEW Film Catalogue. We have been producing films for sixty five years and with the Film Catalogue have begun the significant task of putting this significant body of work online. In this first batch of films, we present films covering the genres of comedy, comedy-drama, drama, experimental, horror and sci-fi:

  • A retired Jedi spends his days tending to his garden when he is interrupted by a young douche bag.
  • Two young brothers (who are not very efficient) rob a local shop to get some money. They drive back home, bickering as they do so. Mother is a bit of a dragon so they decide to go out again to the local pub - still planning further 'scams' ... But mother has the last word!
  • Clarence Leek is a very lonely man. His only friend is his Goldfish, Bob. He is about to reach age thirty, but who is he going to celebrate his birthday with?
  • John Turner is agoraphobic. He hasn't been out of the house in years but when his daughter is kidnapped he must find the courage to face the world.
  • How does a 16-year-old cope with transferring from a bicycle to a wheelchair, and how does it affect his state of mind and the action he takes?

And more…….

Each catalogue entry includes:

  1. Title of Film
  2. Director(s)
  3. Producer(s)
  4. Script
  5. Editor
  6. Cinematography
  7. Music
  8. Storyline/background information
  9. Source of the idea for the film
  10. Genre(s)
  11. Awards
  12. Link to Film Published on the Internet (if available)
  13. Production still photographs (if available)

                                                                 And more…….

The first ten films are just the beginning.