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HOT CHESTNUTS
The Wheatsheaf
Some of you may recall that in the early part of November Bob Hayward put out a plea for help for assistants on a charity film he was shooting for free on two separate evenings. It was to take place in Ewell village, and was a Christmas single and shot to a musical playback. He wanted a full crew and incorporating snow, costumes and props, with assistant helpers for lighting, camera, traffic control, continuity and crowd extras.
I was able to offer myself for the first exterior shoot and Johns, Green and Harwood could help out on the two evenings. The whole thing was shot out and inside the Wheatsheaf pub on the Kingston Road. By the time I arrived on or around 7:30pm on the Tuesday (8th November) Messrs. Green and Harwood were already there with the lighting virtually set-up and was immediately asked by Bob to help out dressing the exterior of the pub with imitation snow in the form of rock salt. We had to spread it all around on the ground, on the wooden slatted table and on window sills etc. He also had a hot chestnut brazier set to one side complete with real and imitation chestnuts.
The latter were also augmented with conkers for bulk. We were told to take special care with the imitation chestnuts as they were more expensive that the real ones! As always it took some time before the scene was satisfactorily set and found acceptable by the Director/Cameraman Bob. We had to wait for someone to remove his car from the front of the pub so that the camera could get a long shot from across the road. We kept the space clear by coning it off. Soon after more people arrived, the chestnut seller and someone with a snow machine about the size of a video projector and mounted on a telescopic table slanted upwards.
The Chestnut Vender
I had not seen one of these before and apparently it uses a kind of soapy liquid which when sprayed into the air clumps together in tiny bubbles and begins to descend just like snow flakes. As the evening progressed it steadily grew colder so when the singer and main character turned up in his shirtsleeves and fancy waistcoat I think we all felt a bit wanting dressed up in our overcoats. He was supposed to mime to a recording but Bob couldn’t even get a squeak out of his MP3 player so in real trouper fashion the singer, knowing the song off by heart, performed the whole thing unaccompanied. You can appreciate he had to go through the same routine many times while Bob wielding his brand new Canon XF300 professional £10,000 camera kit sought to capture every conceivable angle he could imagine. It was shot in full 1920 x 1080 high definition at 50i with a transfer rate of 50 megabytes per second, a standard which Bob assured me is now required for television broadcasting. The accumulation of the artificial falling snow interacting with the rock salt on the ground had the curious effect of making the whole puff up, adding depth to snowy mass. We even had a real fire burning in the brazier further adding authenticity to the scene and I very much enjoyed the opportunity of squirting fake smoke from a can into the air. There was quite a bit of cleaning up afterwards as the rock salt was everywhere but it was a fun evening and everyone had done their bit. A video record of that evening taken by John Harwood can be seen by visiting http://harwooj.com/ecvs.html and as I said I was unable to attend on the Thursday but John can also fill you in on that.
“I attended both days of the shooting of a Christmas Video by club member Bob Hayward. The second day’s shooting was inside the Wheatsheaf pub which was considerably warmer than the outside shooting of the day before. As of yet the completed video has not been seen but Bob paid careful attention as to how the set should be dressed. Christmas decorations were placed strategically to give the impression of Christmas (this was early November) and other telltale signs advertising November events had to be moved. All this went on I might add with customers still in the pub - there was no special shooting day for the camera. They all took it in good spirit and the barmaid dressed up in a Santa costume to add to the effect. Once the preparations were done the Morris men group went through their song many times over to allow for the cutting of the finished video.
Bob get's an angle
This second night was not quite as exciting as the first which had a snow machine and lots of different set changes whereby there was plenty to do all the time. Rather it was the cameraman that had all the work obtaining different angles and the Morris men sang their song. I must say that they remained in good voice despite having to repeat the song over and over again, perhaps the very fact it was shot in a pub helped. (At the time of writing) I have heard nothing about the finished video but I must say that the different angle on offer of the singing looked to be a long job of editing. I will do a little search on you tube incase it is there but I always feel it takes a long time to find things.”

Thanks John – in fact the video can now be seen on You Tube if you type in HOT CHESTNUTS, A LITTLE BAG OF on your web browser, and a great job Bob has made of it too!

Norman Bull & John Harwood

SECOND TAKE January 2012

 

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