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November 2008 Newsletter

Sorry for the delay guys

...and you thought last month was busy

Shooting, shooting and more shooting.

We seemed to do nothing but filming during November and man was that exhausting.

On the 9th November we were back in Epping Forest. The colours were beautiful but the elements were against us a bit. Due to the area where we were shooting in the morning meant that we ended up having to stop and start because the general public kept getting in the back of shot. That combined with sound issues, planes etc, meant that it took longer than planned to film one part of one of the two scenes intended that day which meant that when we came to finish it in the afternoon we ended up losing the light. This might now mean a reshoot which is something that we could do without considering time and budget.

14th – 16th found us back at Debden House and Epping filming another important scene which involved a horse (see below for more info) and an orc fight.

We had Ruth and Rachel from RC Annie and a wonderful team of orcs for the three days. Hours in makeup, rain and being constantly hacked down by us Rangers doesn't seem to deter them which is amazing. Ruth and Rachel did a fantastic job arranging the fight sequence and Rachel even played Dirhaborn for the time to double Danny for some of the fighting.

The Elves, the Elves are coming!!

We finally got to meet our elves this month. Elladan and Elrohir are the only elves in Born of Hope but when we have these boys why would we need any more! It was funny really because due to his busy filming schedule for the TV show Doctors, I only actually met Matt (Elladan, the one on the right as you look at the photo below) for the first time late the night before we were to shoot with them. Sam had been there since early evening and had already seen West Stow and endured hours in a makeup chair while the girls played with the wigs. The boys did a fantastic job and were quickly accepted into the Born of Hope ‘family' (as it seems to be).

Horsing around

They tell you never to work with children and animals, and for good reason. However they also tell you to stick with two actors and one locations when you have no money, not what we are doing which is multiple locations, multiple actors, costumes, props, wigs, children, orcs, elves, changing seasons, cold conditions, short days, rain, location shooting, mostly exteriors, flight paths, the public, sword fights etc and all on no budget. So considering we are ignoring all other advice why not this one too, hey?!

I have wanted to get at least one horse into the film for a while but we had no luck in July. There was a perfect scene to use one this time and we had a few options of horses but I never thought we'd actually manage to get a trained film horse who's already a star of stage and screen! Waterloo, or Louis, from Hilton Horses came along for a day in Epping forest to play Elgarain's horse, Narthal. Louis is the star in the ‘Hip Hop Horse' Yell advert and has performed in Carman in Covent Garden in London.

Louis was fantastic and because he was trained we could do much more with him than with any other horse including letting him loose to work off reins. The only downside was that although he is a Friesian and they can be long haired and feathered (perfect for the Dúnedain), Louis had just recently been clipped with a blanket cut so Sam, his owner, had to re-clip him to try to make it less modern looking, which kind of worked.

So despite the extra time that working with an animal required I think it was really worth it and will add a whole new element to the film.

Back at WEST STOW - Freezing Nights and Frosty Days

Minus 5 degrees Celsius!! Yep -5˚C was the temperature on the night (22nd) we filmed the funeral pyre at West Stow. No problem, you may think, it's a pyre, there will be a huge bonfire to keep us warm...umm no. The pyre is only lit at the end of the scene and because we didn't have the budget for either an SFX guy with flame bars or a fire truck to put out a big fire (even the small hose pipe we did have running from the pig pen froze up in the cold), or time to sit and watch it burn all night, we decided it wasn't safe to try to light it for real. We managed to get a few shots of it looking like it was starting to go up by using some dry straw (if we'd realised this technique earlier we could have done something more impressive, ah well), we also shot most of the close ups with the burning torches just below camera to give the pyre effect which worked very well.

The day after the pyre scene, which didn't wrap until about midnight, we were back at West Stow in the snow. We had had accommodation problems so hadn't managed to sort any out for this first weekend which meant that everyone had to go home after the pyre scene. For some this meant a two hour journey back to homes in London to get only a few hours sleep before heading back for an 8am call time so we had time to shoot before we lost the light. It was a hard weekend as you can imagine.

After a two day break from filming to organise accommodation and try to schedule the rest of the week after having to cancel all of the fights, due to various reasons, we were back at West Stow. We managed to film some important scenes from the end of the film working around any fighting. We again had our dedicated band of Vikings who came all the way down from Leicester, other far afield supporting artists come from Wales and Nottingham and we even had four members of a German Dúnedain re-enactment group who we had met at Ring*Con 2008 come all the way over to join us! We just couldn't do this film without these amazing guys and I just wanted to give them all a shout out.

So despite all the changes, headaches and stress that surrounded this shoot we managed to get some great stuff and amazingly people still seemed to enjoy themselves which is a relief!

We had young Luke Johnston on set again for a couple of the filming days which was great. Working with Luke has been such a learning curve for me and despite his young age and the challenges of working with children I feel we have managed to get some wonderful things from him.

The many faces of Aragorn...

We have a new addition to the actors playing the role of Aragorn. During our West Stow shoots the village always remains open to the public and on one of the days we spotted a young couple wandering around with a small baby. Well it was too good an opportunity to miss. We needed one more shot of a baby which we didn't manage to get in July. Luke's Mum is currently pregnant and due in January 2009 so there was always the possibility of having another Aragorn from the Johnston family but as we were filming and there was a baby we just thought, why not. So we went up to the couple and asked if they would like their child to be Aragorn in our film and they said yes! So may I introduce Jonah McLafferty, our latest Aragorn.

The joy of British customs...continued...

Quote from the October Newsletter "We have four orc swords which have been stuck in customs for over a month now! It's so annoying. We really need them for the shoot at the end of November so if anyone works in British Customs please tell them to get a move on, they are props, I don't plan to hack someone's head off with them."

Well maybe someone in customs is actually a subscriber because my plea worked. Not long after the last Newsletter went out I finally received a form from Customs which I filled in and returned and the Orc blades finally arrived!! Yay!!

They need some leather around the handles and sliming up a bit but aren't they awesome, or should I say, as all us Born of Hopers do, ORCsome!

Best wishes everyone.

Kate Madison