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March 2009

Another full month where every weekend was spent filming!

Oops wait – back track

I totally forgot to tell you in the February Newsletter about all the fight rehearsing we were doing! You can’t really just turn up on set and expect all these fights to just happen by themselves. Especially if you want them to look good and for no one to get hurt. We had to work at it!

We had a number of training sessions during February for working out and rehearsing some of our key fights at the climax of the film. After losing our main fight directors, RC Annie, we had certain members of the fight team take on different sequences with Lewis Penfold taking over as the main fight director. Lewis, who was also playing the role of Gorganog, worked intensively with Christopher Dane, perfecting the duel that happens between Gorganog and Arathorn during the climax of the film. Other fights involving the main characters and background were also worked on in rehearsal sessions before and during the shoot. Despite these sessions, I’m sure I’m not the only one who found the fight filming days fun but very tiring. I feel like I should have been getting myself a lot fitter before we shot. It’s surprising how much energy you need to spend a day or two continuously fighting. Once we have more time to work with the behind the scenes footage we will be able to put together some new featurettes for the website including one about fights on film.

The last long haul

March included the last of our large shoots involving lots of people, rangers, orcs, elves, children and fights

Epping Forest

We started the month back in Epping forest reshooting the infamous scene 30 plus the forest fight from the end of the film. Half of scene 30 was actually shot back in November 08 but we had sound trouble and also lost the light that day. Unfortunately by the time we were able to re schedule, the leaves had grown back and the place looked quite different. There was one section of the scene that we thought we could get away with but then couldn’t find part of Gilraen’s costume so had to choose a new one and reshoot the entire scene which was a pain. Typically we then rediscovered the costume after that weekend!

The forest fight was our other task for this weekend. On the Saturday we had our Elves, fight team and some main characters. We also had a number of our Viking reenactors come down to play ranger and orcs. They did a great job as always. On the Sunday for Arathorn’s fight it rained really bad at one point but we had to just keep shooting due to time. It made it look dramatic but matching it all up in the edit will be fun.

Twin elves...right?

As we are asking actors to work for free we always have to work around their other commitments. On the rare occasions when filming schedules cannot accommodate we have had to use a double instead. This happened this month when one of our elven twins, Matt Kennard, couldn’t make it for the forest fight. We decided to dress up one of our Vikings, Olaf, who did a great job. Hopefully no one will notice, apart from you guys of course, who keep reading all of these spoilers :)

Shaknar’s first appearance

Our main antagonist in the film had his very first appearance this weekend. Shaknar and the other main orc Gorganog both have foam latex masks that perfectly fit the actors they were made for. Foam latex is expensive, time consuming and requires a proper oven for escetially cooking the masks so we were never planning to be able to have them. However, Jon Peck from Norton Armouries said that he could help and kindly made the foam latex masks for these two characters. It’s amazing the difference it makes. Due to various frustrating problems like time (as always), losing the light, full P2 cards and no empty ones plus no charged batteries this first appearance probably lasts approximately 5 seconds max in the final edit! The remainder of his last scene, which I will say no more about or it will ruin the ending of the film, was actually shot a couple of weeks later next to West Stow and not in Epping at all.

West Stow

Well we were never supposed to be back at West Stow but with the problems of the November shoot it was clear that we were going to have to go back at some point. Luckily the guys at West Stow are so supportive of us that they were happy for us to return. This time we decided it was better to do two weekends rather than one full week. Since July when the portacabins we had made so much use of were taken away there is no where really for us to do make up, wardrobe or to store props etc. This was something that really caused us problems in November and we were keen to avoid this again. We contacted a company called Over the Moon Tents and they very generously donated us a large army marquee for the week which they kindly came and assembled for us. This made such a difference! We set up our unit base there including makeup, wardrobe and catering. Richard Unger our Stills Photographer rigged us up a load of lights, loaned to us from a friend of mine from the theatre world, so that we could work before sun up. The only thing we were lacking was heating. It was extremely cold doing makeup and wardrobe in the early hours! Like all BoH shoots it was hard work trying to get so much shot in such a short amount of time and we often had two units working at the same time. The first weekend was spent doing all the linking scenes etc while the second weekend was dedicated to all of the fights.

Happy Birthday Dagmaer!

One of our loyal background artists and basically a character in his own right, Dagmaer, had his birthday during the second weekend. Like many of the Vikings of Middle England Dags has been part of this project since the July 08 shoot and has played both a featured ranger and a "bearded" orc, he’s even the storyteller in one of the scenes. The project wouldn’t be the film it is without the loyalty of these guys, who come all the way down from Leicester for the shoots and training sessions, and I hope they have enjoyed being a part of it as much as we have enjoyed their company on this journey!


As if I don’t have enough to do. The official website and these newsletters are hard enough to keep up to date. The myspace page, facebook group and fan site but I’ve now added BoH to the next big craze, Twitter.