Friday, November 06, 2009

Mirth and Woe: Making Movies

Mirth and Woe: Making Movies

"She making movies on location / But she don't know what it means" – Mark Knopfler

"This story's told in flashback / Otherwise it makes no sense" – John Foxx

"Hey! They're escaping! Stop them!"

"Halt! HALT!"

The crack of a gun, and I am falling, falling, tumbling over, falling. I hit the ground and I awake.

That dream again, and I am in a room watching my fall on a silver screen. For all that we are is a dream within a dream.

The story, flashback.

"Look what my dad's given me, cried next-door neighbour Matty, eyes wide with excitement.

It was an old, wind-up 8mm cine camera.

"We found it in the loft. There's LOADS of unused film, too."

A no-brainer of a decision – we would make a movie – an epic movie- which would be sent with all dur solemnity to Michael Rodd on BBC's Screen Test and we'd win a prize. Win a prize, and get on the telly.

At the time, Matty's dad was building a granny annexe on the side of their house, and their massive garden was a maze of trenches. There was also loads of mud, a builder's shack and a tower of scaffolding.

Our film could have only one title Bob the Builder: Lust for Glory Escape from Colditz.

A script was knocked out, and my big sister, sensing cinematic glory and a chance to get on the electric telly, knocked us about until we let her be the director. Lacking any actual acting skills (mostly decided by the fact that I looked neither English nor German), I was given the job of cameraman.

"Don't mess it up, spacker," the director told me. Oh hark at Spielberg.

Early filming went well. Matty and my brother were superb in their roles as the two men breaking out of the builders' privy prison camp, and John from down the road oozed menace as the sadistic Nazi guard.

And finally, the money shot. The final climactic scene as the airmen kill their guard, bust our of the Colditz shithouse, dodge the sentry's bullets and make their rush for freedom.

All this was to be shot from the top of the scaffolding, a beautiful panning shot taking in the majestic sweep of the prisoners' escape.


"Hey! They're escaping! Stop them!"

"Halt! HALT!"

"Take that, Fritz!"


The lines were spoken, the shots were fired. It was to be a silent movie.

Which was probably a good thing, as the microphone would only have picked up the sound of cameraman getting his legs tangled in the tripod, losing his balance and falling ten feet, arse-over-tit into a foot of mud.

For the record it went something like this:

"Wha... Whoa... Waaaaaaaaaaaaaargh... Whulp"


Then I was sick inna hedge.

And that was, as they say in the movie business, a wrap.

Matty's dad had the film developed. It was RUBBISH.

Rubbish apart from my bit, which rocked.

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