Self Funded Feature Film Premieres in Guildford

After two years of video shoots in four counties, followed by months of editing, Brian O’Connell was able to launch his World War ll period feature film Sarah’s War at Guildford’s Electric Theatre in a grand Premiere screening to a packed house.  In true Hollywood style it was not only a black tie and ‘diamonds’ event but also an Award Ceremony that Hollywood would have been proud of in its presentation.

Brian is a local resident and a member of Surrey Border Movie Makers (SBMM) based in Farnham and has been helped by a dedicated team of members in all aspects of the shoots, aiding the professional actors and crew members to minimise time and cost, although his self funded budget was substantial for a private production.

Further more a ‘Premiere’ team of members on the night also prepared posters, a leaflet giving background to the actors and production, a red carpet interview of cast members conducted by Katie Lewis, who has interviewed on the red carpet in London’s West End for BBC Films, and the grand Awards Ceremony on screen video created by Philip Morley of SBMM that featured each actor and crew member as they came on stage to be given their award by Writer, Producer, Director Brian O’Connell.

Sarah’s War was shown in two halves with an interval, its overall running time being 1 hour 50 minutes, and was rapturously applauded both after the first half and at the end with a standing ovation.  It was gratifying too, that during the Awards, the audience greeted each cast and crew member with enthusiastic applause and cheering, especially the leading actors, Paul Antony-Barber, a renowned film actor playing Sarah’s grandfather, Simon Christian as Klaus Bergman, a German Nazi officer who holds Sarah and her grandfather hostage on board a boat during the war, and the leading lady and title role of Sarah Harris, played by Lily Smith.

Simon and Lily are both graduates of the Guildford School of Acting, as is another cast member, Gillian Taylforth who played Agnes in the film.  These talented young actors accomplished some very tense, tender and aggressive moments in the film, especially when the locations presented challenges in their own right.  And they returned to their roles over the two year period, getting back into character after long breaks which, as Lily commented during her interview, is not so easy but it’s what actors must learn to do.

It is a credit to Brian O’Connell, the cast and crew, both professional and SBMM members, who recreated the WWll atmosphere of the Hamble Estuary in wartime so effectively, helped by Director of Photography, Théo Clark’s camera work  in some very low light and extremely confined spaces.  The aftermath of the war brings Sarah a cruel and relentless personal battle, set in 1940s styled locations, when the palpable struggle of a single mother in censorious post war England finds that her only hope lies with the Nazi that once nearly took her life.

As a notable film maker, Script Writer, Producer and Director, Brian can now look back on this mammoth effort with considerable satisfaction and pride.

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Annual Movie Competition

The annual Club Members Competition had twelve entries for 2017. Amongst this year’s films were Documentaries, Holiday’s, Comedies, a Wedding, a visual Sound Poem and a Musical Fantasy. Two new club members Peter Stratford and Patric Hinde both entered films. Peters film ‘Chinese New Year 2017 in Hong Kong’ was full of interesting facts and good camerawork, it won the ‘Best First Time Winner’ trophy and also Best Use of Sound. Patric Hinde who is an MGBGT enthusiast as well as a keen film maker created a 1min comedy about his beloved car which the audience enjoyed.

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Annual Movie Competition Results

There were ten trophies and the winners were: Best Holiday Film won by Colin Lewis for ‘Highlights of Cape Town’, this film also won Colin the Best Commentary trophy.

Best Photography won by Peter Frost for ‘The Dawning’ filmed at Newlands Corner in Guildford, Peter also won the Best Creative Award and the film was voted The Best Overall, so quite an achievement. Best Documentary won by Alan Butcher for his film ‘Hog’s Back Brewery’, Alan also won Best Camerawork for this film about the creation of the new Revival Hop Garden in Tongham and the hop harvesting and processing filmed on the Hampton Estate in Farnham. Best Editing was awarded to Gillian Gatland for her film ‘The Laxey Wheel’ a huge waterwheel built into the hillside of Laxey on the Isle of Man, Gillian explained the origins of the wheel and its brilliant engineering. The Highly Commended Certificate went to Philip Morley for his film ‘Barry’s Line in the Sky’ about New Zealander Barry Brickell who was a potter, writer and conservationist who built the narrow gauge ‘Driving Creek Railway’ on his 60-acres of land through some very challenging terrain.

The Competition judges all from Solent Movie Makers were ‘Chairman’ Jeremy Holder who has made several winning documentaries, Mike Power a professional photography specialist who has also won many film competitions and Paul Vernon a keen Photographer who now uses his skills to make very successful western films. They all agreed that the Surrey Border Movie Makers entries this year were of a very high standard and the club is grateful for their excellent judging and critique.

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December Meeting Judges

The December club meeting will welcome two of the three judges from Solent Movie Makers, Jeremy Holden (Chairman) and Paul Vernon who will be announcing the winner of the Surrey Border Movie Makers Club Competition. Sadly, the third Judge Mike Power is unable to attend.

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Norah’s Ark Film Premier

Earlier this year Surrey Border Movie Makers Honorary Secretary Rita Wheeler entered the ‘Create 50 – The Impact’ scriptwriting competition and this has resulted in Rita making a short film called ‘Norah’s Ark’. The film based on the traditional ‘Noah’s Ark’ story was filmed at Potters Gate School in Farnham as it had an ideal boat in the play area which could become the ‘Ark’. Local children from Farnham and surrounding area’s took part in the film. Actress Victoria Ledwidge took the leading role as school Teacher Norah, Surrey Border Movie Makers Member Peter Frost played the part of Mr Huber (Noah), Evie Addley took the leading child role as Evie. The Norah’s Ark Premiere took place at the November club meeting and was watched by actors and parents who took part in the film, Siblings and Grandparents were also guests. The popcorn supplied during the film viewing proved popular with the audience and a variety of tasty cakes were consumed in the break.

Prior to the Premiere, Surrey Border Movie Makers member Alan Butcher showed a short film of ‘The Making of Norah’s Ark’ which raised a lot of interest with everyone involved in the film and Kathy Butcher’s 4min film of the ‘Norah’s Ark Singing Rehearsals’ was also shown. The ‘Norah’s Ark’ film will now be submitted into a follow-on competition for entry into a bigger feature film.

After the break a selection of films from the SERIAC (South East Region of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers) 2017 Show Reel were shown and discussed.

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Annual Interclub Competition

The popular annual Inter Club Competition for South East Movie clubs was hosted by Surrey Border Movie Makers in Farnham. Four clubs entered films this year. Reading Film and Video Makers ‘Gift of Love’ was based on a love story during the war, it was partly filmed on the Watercress Line railway and Worthing Beach, costumes were hired which added to the authenticity of this very well made film. Sutton Film Makers ‘Almost Perfect’ was a gripping horror story about Funeral Cosmetology (Corpse Make-up) and an un-witting applicant who arrived for an interview at the Funeral Parlour. The film was praised for it’s dramatic tension, suspense and good use of appropriate music. Unfortunately, Sutton Film Makers could not be present on the competition night. Staines Video Makers entered their film ‘ To Eleanor’, starring Elise Stannard, the film was made at Black Pond in Esher and was a moving film about the tragic loss of a twin sister. South Downs Film Makers ‘Travel Companion’ was a comedy about an advertisement a wife saw for an un-usual holiday in a Russian prison which she wanted to take, her husband was not keen and decided to provide his wife with his own version of a secluded holiday whilst he and his attractive neighbour went away somewhere far more glamourous. This well paced comedy with a good twist raised a lot of laughs with the audience.

The difficult job of judging the high standard films was made by Surrey Border Committee members Dave Rayers and Peter Frost.

After much discussion ‘To Eleanor’ by Staines Video Makers was announced the winner for it’s good acting, camerawork and music. Martine Stannard was presented with the Inter Club Competition Award.

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Documentary Competition Results Announced

At the October meeting the winner of the Documentary Competition held in September was announced. Third place went to Peter Stratford for his film ‘Forgotten Country’, second place was ‘The Tour’ by Peter Frost. The winner was Colin Lewis’s film ‘Samuel Cody and His Flying Machines’.

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New MAC Users Forum

A new Mac user’s forum will officially start from October 2017 at Peter Matthews studio (Hut 3 Cinema). This follows the 2016 training sessions for the Hollywood Camera Work Course which were held at either Mike Sanders studio for PC users or Peter Mathews studio for Mac users. A taster evening was held in September for the new Mac Forum. Five members were present Peter Matthews, Brian O’Connell, John Ivil and Alan and Kathy Butcher. A lively discussion took place concerning editing software, in particular Final Cut Pro a popular choice with Mac users and included information on getting the most from special effects to overcome, correct or improve various shooting problems. Hints and tips were also exchanged between members which is always useful. Everyone came away having learnt something which is one of the main aims of the evening.

If you are a Mac user or are thinking about buying a Mac and are interested in joining the monthly forum please contact Alan Butcher

or Peter Matthews at the next club night.

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Documentary Competition

Surrey Border Movie Makers Annual Documentary Competition is always very popular and this year was no exception with a good selection of high quality films and two new club members entering very impressive films.

Peter Stratford who is new to the club this year and confesses to being very keen on making documentaries entered a film called ‘Forgotten Country’ about Armenia. Peter captured the culture and beauty of this extraordinary country using a combination of stunning video and photographs. The commentary was added when he returned home using an in-built stereo microphone on a Canon camera.

Peter also entered a second film called ‘The Hemis Festival’ which took the audience to Ladakh in India where the amazing Tibetan Buddhist Hemis Monastery is located. The Hemis Festival’s sacred ritual takes place every 12 years and involves dancing, drumming, cymbal playing and the offering of ceremonial objects as parts of a very colourful event.

Jim Reed joined Surrey Borders Movie Club in August this year and produced a fantastic 8 min. documentary about the ‘Hawk Conservancy Trust’ in Andover. The Birds of Prey Flying Display was the highlight of Jim’s film, his skilled camera work made the audience feel that the birds were actually flying overhead. Jim’s film was a very good overview of the Trust’s valued work.

‘The Whistlers of La Gomera’ was a documentary entered by Martin Boyman. Filmed whilst Martin was on holiday, it introduced the audience to the Spanish inhabitants of La Gomera in the Canary Islands who use ‘whistling words’ to communicate to each other across the deep valleys and ravines, this practice declined in the 1950’s but demonstrations still take place and Martin produced an excellent film about it.

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A Taster for the Club’s Forthcoming Documentary Competition

Surrey Border Movie Makers member Peter Frost presented the audience with a selection of documentaries he has made since joining the club. Several of the films were taken whilst he was out and about with the U3A club which he belongs to. ‘Personal Gardens’ was the first film Peter showed. Members of U3A Gardening Group meet once a month often in a fellow member’s garden to have a general chat about the plants, garden lay out and all things associated with gardening, recording the films sound proved to be a bit of a challenge as it was shot on a particularly windy day. The second film took us to Pirbright Church which was packed with historical facts including, Henry Morton Stanley the explorer who is buried in the church cemetery. The U3A walking group gave Peter another opportunity to make a great documentary called ‘Shamley Shamble’, the 8-minute film followed the walkers through some very muddy footpaths making some interesting fun shots. The club audience also enjoyed watching films of a Line Dancing lesson and a Music Ensemble practice session. Peter also had the opportunity to film a very moving ceremony in the Brookwood Military Cemetery where 23 new names of Jewish Commandos who lost their lives at sea undertaking Britain’s Special Operations Executive were added to the 1939-45 Memorial to the Missing. Amongst those attending was the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. Peter received a very complimentary email for his work producing this historic film.

New club member Jim Reed showed his film ‘Elephant in the Room’ based on the theme used for this year’s Film in 4 which took place just prior to Jim joining Surrey Border Movie Makers. The film was enjoyed by all, we look forward to seeing more of Jim’s films at the club in the future.

Martin Boyman showed the audience two versions of his film ‘Death of a Trusted Friend’ about the sad demise of his trusted camera on a holiday trip. One version was in DV and the other was in AVCHD. Comparisons were made and discussed on the night, the decision was made that the AVCHD version was a clear winner. Martin then advised us that his camera was still very much alive and in full working order as the ‘death’ of his camera had been a clever piece of editing!

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Film in a Month

Surrey Border Movie Makers July meeting showed three entries for the Film in a Month Competition. This year’s theme set by Committee Members attending the 2017 Albany Film Competition held in Chichester earlier this year was ‘Elephant in the Room’. Film Makers could interpret their own ideas from the title.

The first film entry was called ‘Zippadee Doo Dah’ and was made by Surrey Borders Oddbods film group. The film, a comedy was centred around a White Elephant Stall and featured some fine acting from Ivan Dally, Gillian Gatland, Jo Jones, Fred Hawkins, Dave Skertchly, Rita Wheeler (Club Secretary) and Mike Sanders (Vice Chairman).

The second film ‘Lost in Translation’ was made by the Pioneer film group. Philip Morley took the lead role proving that he is just as skilled in front of the camera as behind it. Geoff Bentley and Peter Ives also had convincing acting roles and Surrey Border’s Chairman John Mills looked ravishing in his blonde wig playing the part of the maid!

The third film was made by Colin Lewis. A Ruby Wedding Celebration which was being filmed turned into a Sound Engineers nightmare when excited children’s loud voices completely drowned the speeches being made. With no chance of a re-take on this once in a lifetime event, this was a real Elephant in the Room situation.

The films were judged on the night by the audience and the Pioneer group were voted the winners with their ‘Lost in Translation’ film.

The evening continued with a selection of nostalgic films which had been entered into previous Surrey Border Movie Makers 2005, 2008 and 2011 BAFTA’s.

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Talented Film Animator Visits Club

Surrey Border Movie Makers welcomed John Anscomb who is a member of Staines Video Makers Club to their April meeting. John is a very talented film animator and surprisingly, he has only been making animations since 2000, he does not use a computer in his film production, all editing is done through his camera and he uses only natural light from a window when filming.

John explained to the audience that he has always had a gift for drawing and storytelling and this led him to film making. He bought with him a selection of his drawings used in the making of the films shown during the evening and they certainly raised a lot of interest. The movement of characters etc. in his films are created by various methods, sometimes necessitating the use of his wife and family when extra pairs of hands are required. John’s Grandson assisted with the voices in several films.

Six of John’s films were shown, one was a comedy called ‘Edgars Egg ‘which took 5 months to make mainly due to the creation, drawing and colouring of the characters. Another film ‘Captain Chuckles Circus’ used approximately 90 watercolour drawings, some of which were only seen for 5 seconds in the film. ‘The Kings Wish’ took 4 months to draw and 1 month to film. We look forward to seeing more of John’s great films in the future.

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March Meeting

The March meeting was the opportunity for members to show some of their films to the club and also for previous years’ Film in an Evening’ footage to be shown again. Steve Michel’s film ‘The Washing Can Wait’ was filmed entirely with a smart phone. Paul Redman’s film ‘Wish You Were Here’ demonstrated the use of the ‘Foley Effect’ for sound enhancement. Martin Boyman’s film ‘Vasa Museum’ held everyone’s interest as he filmed during a visit to the Stockholm Museum and expertly narrated the story of the building, sinking and subsequent raising of the ornate Swedish warship from the seabed after 333 years. Previous years ‘Film in an Evening’ groups films shown were ‘Final Demand’ (2012) ,’Office of Special Interest’, ‘Bird and Peacock’ (2013) and ‘Framed’ (2014).

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Peter Frost wins award for biggest contribution to SBMM in 2016

Surrey Border Movie Makers have had a film ’Take 5 on the Bank’ accepted as an entry into the Dorking Film Festival’s Documentary Short Film category. The 6 min. film was directed and filmed by Peter Frost and depicts an observation of tourism and colourful talented street performers along London’s South Bank.

Peter Frost is a talented film maker and has made several club films including drama’s and documentaries, he directs and edits his own films but also works alongside fellow club members where he assists with cameras, sound, lighting and acting. Peter is also Editor of Surrey Border Movie Makers excellent monthly club magazine’ Border Post’ which is enjoyed by other South East film clubs.

Contribution to Club 2016 P Frost

At the clubs AGM in February Peter was named as the club member who has contributed the most to the club in 2016.

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Dorking Film Festival

Following a very successful debut in 2015 the new Dorking Film Festival is now in its second year. Filmmakers from Surrey, the South East and the rest of the UK are invited to enter their films. The event will be held on Saturday 25th February at the Dorking Halls, Reigate Road, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1SJ. Tel. 01306 881717 for more details.

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