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Saturday 12 January 2013

Village Day - Bracknell and London Shoots

      So there we were, the four of us travelling on a train to London, to meet up with the other members of the film crew at the first London film location for Village Day, at Buckingham Place. Also, members of the London Prisoner group were to meet us there in order to watch the filming taking place.
    All was going well until the train ground to a halt.... points failure! Oh bugger, we're going to be late! What to do, that was the question? A guard came along saying that if anyone wanted to make a phone call to say they were going to be late etc, they could do so in the Buffet car.
   Well I said to the guard that I am a film producer on my way to a film location in London in order to meet up with my film crew, and need to contact my director. "Oh, well Sir you had better follow me, and there will not be a charge for the telephone call." See what confidence and an authorititive voice can do for you! Well I wasn't lying to the man, after all I was the Executive Producer, and I was on my way to a film location in London.
    We arrived nearly an hour late in Buckingham Place, the rest of the film crew were already there and waiting with KAR 120C.
   After filming in Buckingham Place was in the can, we moved on to a Street just around the corner from Buckingham Place, we filmed the car crash, which was later re-filmed in a quiet country lane in Berkshire. And the counter agent standing outside a public house on the corner of the street.
     After filming in Buckingham Place, we made our way to the underground car park at Hyde Park where we filmed Kar 120C going into and coming out of the car park. And myself as the Prisoner storming along the passageway to the office where the original Prisoner had handed in his letter of resignation.
    We chose a Sunday morning to do the filming, as I had been advised by the Metropolitan Police that Sunday was always quiet for traffic in London, and that is how it turned out to be. But there was one other added factor, the heat. the temperature of the day was well into the low 80's, strange for this time of the year.
   Once the filming was completed, the film crew broke up and we all went our separate ways, with the four of us heading for the railway station and a journey home.
   Once home, and after a meal, the film rushes were screened, and it soon became abundantly clear that what we had shot that day was simply not good enough. A second London location shoot would be needed!
   Here are a few film stills to give you an idea of what we got up to.
{The prisoner about to drive off in KAR 120C}
{As a car crash, it didn't look right!}
{You know where we are don't you? At the wrong bloody car park, that's where!}
   The second London Village Day film location shoot took place in May 1999, and all those involved were up at the crack of dawn. With breakfast being prepared the first two tasks needed to be performed one found myself washing KAR 120C, and recording "Village announcements" on audio tape for the film.
    The film crew left Bracknell in various cars, and in convoy fashion at 6.30am, so as to be in London before too much traffic was on the road. I was concerned about how the car parking situation would be in Buckingham Place, after all if there were too many modern day cars parked up, this would make filming very difficult. So the previous week I had contacted the Metropolitan Police to check the traffic situation out. I had hoped that the Police would be of assistance to a film producer, executive film producer coming to the metropolis to film. But no, apparently our film project was not important enough to warrant police assistance! We would simply have to wait and see on the day.
    It was a beautiful sunny morning, and when we arrived in Buckingham Place we were relieved to find that only a few cars were acutally parked on the Prisoner's side of the Street.
    We set to work immediately, setting up camera angles, as Bill took off the nose of his Caterham in order to swap the license plate for KAR 120C, while I worked out just where the Prisoner would come from as he walked along Buckingham Place to No.1.
   The actual filming went very easily, I was filmed walking along Buckingham Place, looking at KAR 120C parked outside, then mounting the steps of the house I quite literally hammered on the front door to gain the occupants attention - thankfully no-one was in! Then taking the parking tickets and warning notice off the windscreen of the Caterham Super 7 I climbed in, fired the engine and drove off....... round the corner, round the block and back up Buckingham Place just as the Prisoner had done in the opening sequence of the Prisoner...... I simply couldn't help myself, it had to be done, as I would in all probability not get another chance. I found it exhilerating, exciting, for those few moments I was the Prisoner.
   Then whilst filming some long-shots of No.1 Buckingham Place with KAR 120C parked outside there came a pretty surreal happening. For as we filmed, and keeping the camera rolling, a taxi pulled up in front of the Caterham. The taxi driver got out of his cab, crossed the pavement, mounted the steps of the house No.1, and we waited transfixed and with baited breath.......................... would the Prisoner suddenly come rushing out of the house with two packed suitcases in hand? But sadly no-one emerged from the house, and the taxi driver got back into his cab and drove off, realising he was in the wrong Street. But for a moment it was a most surreal moment when you think that we were filming outside the Prisoner's house.
   The final film location was to be in Abingdon Street, and the car park therein. All that had to take place was to have KAR 120C drive down the slope, into the underground car park, and then back out again and left at the top of the slope. But Bill who was driving the Caterham, insisted he drive KAR 120C time and time again down the slope to the car park in order to get it right, this much to the fury of the car park attendant who was getting more and more irate, as the barrier was lifting every time and dispensing a ticket. But no-one was going in. It was Bill who drove KAR 120C down the slope, but I was behind the wheel driving KAR 120C up the slope towards the camera, pausing at the 'T' junction, then turning left and driving just off camera. And with that the filming as they say was in the can.

    With all the "London shoot" having been completed, the film crew split up, and went their separate ways. However a number of us held an impromptu "London walkabout". taking in as many Prisoner film locations as possible, as well as many main tourist places. Such as Piccadilly Circus, where one of our number thought the spiralling Coca-Cola sign was still there. We also went along Carnaby Street, and not a Mini-Moke in sight! We found the public house, I forget the name of the pub for the moment, but it has a bust of William Shakespeare's head and shoulders as he looks out of a window of the pub. This in the same fashion as the head and shoulders bust of William Shakespeare looks over a balcony at Dolphin House at Portmerion.
    And so after a brilliant day at London, the time finally arrived to say our goodbyes, and start the long journey home. I was left to assess how much more work was needed on the film before the actual editing together of the film could commence

   Then came the location shoot at Bracknell. The film crew arrived in Bracknell at about mid day to await the arrival of the Caterham Super 7 KAR 120C, which was being driven up from Bournemouth by it's owner.
   The first film location was outside the Castle public house, but the film crew and two cast members had to take cover in the Castle public house from the pouring rain outside, which held up filming for quite some time.
    When the rain did eventually stop you would think that just to have KAR 120C driven along a short stretch of road onto the forecourt of the pub would be a simple piece to film, and it would have been, had it not been for the amount of modernday traffic going by at that time of day. In fact one or two cars kept going passed over and over again as we were trying to film. I guess those in the cars were local people and wanted to see what was going on. But it was greatly frustrating just as you set Bill on his way in the Caterham to go for a take, and just as he arrives to park outside the pub along comes a modern day car appearing in shot!!!!! One driver kept driving passed, but then stopped in direct eye line with the camera! So in the end what I had to do was have two people either end of the stretch of road and hold up the traffic for a short time.
   The next scene was far simpler, all I had to do as the Prisoner, was to get out of the parked Caterham and walk into the pub. Then out again, get into KAR 120C and drive off, followed outside the pub by an agent who had seen to it that I never arrive at my next destination.

    We then moved on to a long and quite often deserted road, so I was informed by one of the crew who was local to the area. A quiet stretch of road it might have been at one time, but not today, as the world and his wife wanted to drive along this particular road, just as we were filming. I couldn't believe it!!!
   First off I asked if Bill, the owner of KAR 120C if he could crash his Caterham for me. Bill said "No problem!" I was amazed. I said to Bill crash the car as close up to that telegraph pole as you can, and get a skid in along the way. So that is what he did, the actual crash looked very realistic, and the bonnet was adjusted so as to affirm the crash for the camera in close-up shots. I sat in KAR 120C slumped over the wheel with blood oozing from my forehead, blood which was actually tomato puree and looked very realistic, as indeed did the whole scene. So much so that a white van driver pulled up and said did we want him to call an ambulance, the crash looked pretty bad. We were all amazed, and explained that we were making a film, and with that the white van driver drove off.

   The remainder of the location shoot was of KAR 120C being driven along the road, this way and that, from the roadside and through the back window of a car set in front.
   Once the film shoot was complete we all retired to our friends home for refreshments and to screen the rushes of the days filming. All was well apart from the crash scene, there were two members of the film crew standing at the side of the road in shot as the Caterham crashed! Bugger, blast and damn it!!!!! What was to be done? Go back the next day and film the crash all over again? No, because we had to be on our way to London for a location shoot in the capital. Then as we were deliberating the problem, one of the crew said he could alter the film on his computer - marvellous. So the film was taken away to be worked on over night. The next day as we prepared for the trip to London the film was brought back and screened. The few frames of the film of the crash scene with the two people standing in shot had been shrunk, and you couldn't tell the difference from the rest of the film. 
"Well I certainly look more like me than your do!"
Next time the set shoot, the Green Dome interior, Laboratory, and No.6’s cottage interior

Be seeing you

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