So, Sunday 14th April – the day after my 52nd birthday and my present to myself… filming the battle scenes for “The Washer at the Ford” plus a few other scenes for “The Spirit of the Greenwood”. The shoot had been a huge one to organise – as well as the main cast and crew I needed as many extras as I could muster (most of whom I needed to be able to provide their own costumes as the budget is so low), so I had set up a Facebook Event. This had led to around 48 ‘warriors’ promising to come along – more than enough to create the effect we were looking for. So once again we found ourselves in the woods at Pippingford Manor on a Sunday. The weather had been very wet for the last few days but come Sunday and the sun shone down. We set up base-camp, including a craft services table and – luxury of luxuries – a portaloo, and waited for the crowds to arrive.
While we were waiting, my wife (also my producer and editor) Joy took a second unit further into the woods to do a re-shoot of some footage we had shot about a month before. I had not been happy with the costumes or the horn rig we had built (it had all been a last minute rush) so had since had a new, custum rig deigned for Seán to wear as The Horned God and Rebecca had a new dress as The Lady. With Joy in the 2nd unit was Pete Russell, my right hand man on most of my shoots who had been with us on the first version and Wayne Avenson (http://www.theactionhouse.com), our cameraman for the day (another treat, as I usually operate myself). I had storyboarded the shots I needed so was confident that I would get this scene right this time.
Meanwhile I waited and started to co-ordinate things at ‘HQ’. As ever, Marq was with us to film the ‘making of’ video and the cars started to arrive. In the end, about half the expected people turned up so we had around 24 extras plus our principles. Not as many as I would have liked but still enough to fill the frame – and those who did come were amazing. Great costumes and endless energy and enthusiasm that made the day go so smoothly.
The 2nd unit came back and we grabbed a few quick shots of the ‘dead and dying land’ with Rebecca and Seán walking amongst the trees before she had to disappear to get to the airport and fly off on holiday (this is what I mean about dedication!!).
We then set about getting some shots we needed for a series of crownings that lead up to the appearance of… well, let’s just say there was a sword in a stone at one point… This sequence made full use of the 12 foot crane and tracks – sweeping shots that give the films a scale and majesty that belie their micro budget.
A quick break for lunch and costume/make-up change and then it was down to the ‘main event’ – the battle. Once assembled, the warriors looked amazing. A mix of their own costumes and some supplements courtesy of Terry English (the armourer behind ‘Excalibur’, ‘Clash of the Titans’, ‘King Arthur’ and many more: https://www.facebook.com/ArmourerTerryEnglish?fref=ts). His partner, Julie was with us with a car full of goodies – she also has a role in one of the films which will feature in a later blog.
Leading the charge, and looking stunning were Joanne Marriott as Morrighan, Lisa Carrodus as Badb and Kristen Jones as Macha – you certainly wouldn’t want to mess with these 3 sisters!
We filmed for a couple of hours in the unexpected heat but everyone kept going – the light was amazing and we captured some really wonderful footage. We shot a mixture of choreographed sequences and ‘freestyle’, which we can intercut to give the impression of some serious carnage and chaos! After the main battle we shot a quick burst of the battle with the Formorians – a chance for yet another costume change and some more outlandish make-up.
Then, to round off the day, Joanne needed to perform a page long speech/poem to the crowd of battle weary warriors which she did in style – and as for the warriors – I think the exhausted expressions on their faces were more than a little authentic!
And that was it – months of planning and it was over. One very busy, truly memorable day. There is a behind the scenes gallery and some screen grabs over on the Facebook page if you would like to see more. Next blog, coming soon and we are yet again back in the woods!