Saturday 9th March 2019 saw myself, Steve Launay and newcomer Jacob Chapman go to St Bartholomew church in Botley, which is part of the Manor Farm attraction.
Manor Farm had been very accommodating in allowing us to film at the location, keen to support Beacon Productions as a local non-for-profit film production club. I’d explained the shoot was for a dramatic scene, part of a current production, being mainly a flashback of Jack and his wife, Alice, attending the funeral of their young son.
I’d missed a couple calls from Sam Warne, who was chauffeuring his wife, Helen, and baby son Thomas, to the shoot. I phoned Sam, who was struggling to find the location. It is off the beaten track and all the better for it – the church is a real hidden gem, thoroughly worth checking out. High praise indeed from a devout atheist!
I gave Sam directions and we headed to the church to start planning shots. After about ten minutes I gave Sam another call and it was clear they were still struggling to find their way. I then heard the sound of sheer panic within their car and was given a running commentary of how baby Thomas had just emptied the contents of his stomach over the inside of the car. They had to urgently tend to things and hung up. This was followed by a text message a few minutes later, apologising they would be unable to attend the shoot given the drama that had unfolded.
This left us in a bit of a predicament, as we’d arranged the location with Manor Farm and we already there and ready to film. The shoot had already been cancelled at short notice the month before, due to crew availability. We proceeded to film what we could with just me and certain shots were essentially practice runs at what we would have to return to complete in the near future.
From there, we returned to Steve’s for a quick refreshment and then headed down Addison woods to film a zombie being torched. I’d prepared a zombie dummy to replicate the extra played by Tess Lorrigan the month before. This consisted of a cardboard box wearing the same jumper Tess wore, jeans over pieces of wood, and a Styrofoam head I’d painted and popped a beanie hat on. Naturally we got some odd looks as we walked to the location.
My original idea had been to mallet the wood into the ground, which would hold the remainder of the dummy upright. However, the ground was too hard. I’d attached some polyamide thread to the box and out the arms of the jumper, so we had the means to make the dummy move once on fire. We used these instead to essentially hang the dummy from an overheard branch and were able to still just about pull the thread to create the necessary movement.
I doused the dummy in lighter fluid and Jacob started rolling, as Steve flicked the lighter.
It just about worked. Jacob was able to get enough footage before the burning head fell loose from the body, after which we allowed it to fall to the ground and filmed the flaming body. It hindsight, I should’ve used a thicker piece of wood to attach the head to the body, as the thin stick I’d used was only going to ever last so long.
We then spent the next twenty minutes or so playing catch with a head. You’ll see…
Sunday 17th March saw myself and Steve return to St Bartholomew church, this time via Botley train station where we’d picked up Helen Warne. My 10 year old daughter, and Beacon member, Ella, joined us for the shoot as a runner. We got the outstanding shots required in decent time, and Ella took photos of us all in action.
With the exception of inevitable cut-aways here and there, it is now just the hordes left to film, scheduled for Saturday 15 June 2019 in Botley, Hampshire. At the time of writing, I’m pleased to announce that editing has already begun and in fact I’ve just watched the first draft of the first ten minutes that Jacob Chapman has sent me, which is great! Due to the anticipated length of the film (estimated over an hour long), the current plan is to divide editing up into around four segments, with an overall edit then completed to sort any pacing issues and colour-grade. Any additional foley will then be identified and filmed, along with Mat Hasker providing the soundtrack. I’ve also got the opening credits to film, which I’ve decided to do entirely on my mobile phone as a side-experiment! Expect footage from Hampshire but also Iceland, Cyprus and perhaps even Malaysia and Thailand if I find anything worthy on my upcoming trip! I’ve also got a mate in Spain who is desperate to feature somewhere, so I’m hopefully off there in June the week before the hordes!
Planning the hordes is a monster job. Very stressful but it’ll hopefully all be worth while. I’ll write about the planning, along with things I’ve learnt along the way in a future issue.
PLEASE REMEMBER – We need as many Beacon members getting involved with the hordes as possible. Not only Beacon members, but friends and family too, so please please please spread the word! Contact me via email (find it on the club’s global emails) or via Facebook or any of the below Day 66 social medias. Thank you for your continued support!
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