EPSOM MOVIE MAKERS

EPSOM MOVIE MAKERS

formerly EPSOM CINE & VIDEO SOCIETY

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305 Squadron

....or should I say how it evolved..... My two years National Service was mainly in the middle east in Iraq and Egypt. I remember that Iraq was a very peaceful Kingdom in those days. When I flew home I was required to report for further service to a T.A. unit - the 16th Airborne Division situated at the Duke of York's H.Q. in Chelsea for retraining as a parachutist and radio operator with 305 Signal Squadron. Once the training was finished I was promoted to full Corporal with my own radio detachment and 5 men under me. It was about this time that I started to think about putting all the adventures we were about to experience on record. My very first 8mm camera was a Kodak Brownie 2 with flip-up view finders fore and aft. The film at that time was Kodachrome. Some of the early shots in "305 Squadron" were made using that camera. Other shots were taken with an Admira 8f. I finally progressed to a Bolex 8BL and this lasted until the end of my service and also produced some of the footage incorporated into the film but most of the film was shot using the K2. As time passed during my 13 years service I was fast becoming "the man with the movie camera" and soldiers looked forward to seeing themselves on the various films that I made over the years. It was during my last two years that I approached my C.O. with the idea of putting together a type of recruiting film for the unit (well that was the excuse I used to get access to the resources I needed for making "305 Squadron") To my amazement he gave his full co-operation plus a full weekend to film at will. I had 20 or so men, a number of parachutes, a flare gun and a box of thunder flashes drawn from the stores (amongst other things) and then the Q.M. came over to me with a grin on his face and handed me a megaphone "you may need this" he chuckled. That really did make my day. So we all piled into the back of a 10 ton truck, Rolls Royce Champ and a couple of Land Rovers and set off to a training area in Farnham. The day we started filming was sunny but unfortunately no wind. This meant we would not be able to simulate the parachute landings which I wanted to edit into shots of a mass parachute drop taken in the wilds of Scotland a couple of years earlier. For realism I particularly wanted the men to be dragged along the ground - so instead I decided to go ahead and shoot the battle scenes. I hadn't written anything down or really planned any shots - they were all in my head. So after going through what was going to happen with the men I started taking the first shots. Thank goodness for the Q.M. - that megaphone was a godsend. I only had the one camera on a tripod so the action needed to be repeated three or four times from different angles to be edited in to one shot later. Moving in for the explosions needed some careful thought from the safety aspect because at times the thunder flashes were placed quite close to the men. I used a telephoto lens for some of the explosion shots and tomato sauce for make up! I must say here that the men really enjoyed themselves - doing what they do best - playing at soldiers. When we awoke next day we were pleased to find that the wind had got up so we were able to simulate the parachutes and men being dragged along the ground. I sent the film away to be copied on to digital tape. The original film soundtrack was edge striped and had become damaged over the years and using Adobe 6.5 I was able to re-edit some of the visuals and in all nine soundtracks were used in the finished film. Recordings of explosions being speeded up or slowed down on the time line to recreate the desired effect. I take as a compliment the comments made by Pip Hayes - Competition Officer of Shooters Hill Cine & Video Club. When he stated that he could not believe this was an amateur production. Every shot except one was taken in North Wales - where the scene called for a climber to slip down a rock face and be recovered by the use of a rope - that climber was a very young ME.

SECOND TAKE August 2003

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