Archives // Filmmaking

A Gliding Documentary | The Glider Pilot | My RØDE Reel 2017

Thursday 29th June 2017

A Gliding Documentary

It’s that time of year again, the time for My RØDE Reel, a film competition which challenges filmmakers of all levels and abilities to put together a three minute short film on a theme of their choosing. Last year I entered the competition with a short about my husband Ed’s running. We filmed it together in an afternoon up at the Lickey Hills in Worcestershire. We both enjoyed the process so much that I wanted to make a film again this year, too.

This year’s film is a gliding documentary, and stars my father-in-law Roger, who is a glider pilot. It’s set in the Cotswolds at Cotswold Gliding Club near Stroud in Gloucestershire. For the uninitiated, gliding is a competitive air sport. Pilots fly unpowered aircraft, and stay airborne by finding and using thermals, ridge and wave patterns. Some gliders also have small engines for the purpose of sustaining flight in sub-optimal conditions, but the aim of the game is to stay in the air and traverse long distances by following thermals, ridge and wave patterns across the landscape.

So, to the film. I wanted to make a documentary, as it’s my favourite form of filmmaking. I love making really natural films and keeping things simple and real. As such, I knew that I wanted to follow Roger as he arrived at the airfield, set up his glider and prepared for launch, just as he normally would when going for a flight. My plan was then to cut the footage together with a voiceover of him speaking about gliding, explaining how he got into the sport and the reasons why he loves it so much. I also hoped that we would have a chance to get up for a short flight for some aerial footage, but gliding is so weather dependent that I was unsure if a flight would come to pass.
Back in May we set two dates in the diary for filming, to increase our chance of good weather. On the first date, it was overcast and rain was forecast for the afternoon and evening. We went up to the airfield anyway at around midday, and I captured lots of footage of Roger going through his safety checks and setting up the glider. I also captured plenty of b-roll around the airfield, for example signs, the wind sock, long grass blowing etc. All of the little shots that I like to think of as the glue that holds the story together. Ed helped out with filming, too, capturing footage of me filming Roger which I knew I would need for the Behind the Scenes video. In the end, we didn’t get up that day as the wind was too strong and we were the only people at the airfield.

Read more…

My RØDE Reel 2016

Monday 6th June 2016

The deadline for entries to RØDE’s ‘My RØDE Reel 2016′ competition has just passed, so I thought it a good time to reflect on my experience of entering a film competition. True to form, I didn’t get around to filming and editing my short film until the 11th hour. Perfectionism was my main hurdle, as always, but there were a few other issues at play which meant I had to change my plans last minute. I think it’s been a good learning curve though, and so I wanted to write about and share my thoughts on the matter.

Filming a running documentary

I’m in the process of making a documentary about my husband Ed’s attempts to break 15 minutes for 5km. At the moment his PB is 15:09, set in the summer of 2015 at a Tipton Harriers Open Graded Meeting, and he’s itching to push his time down further. I’ve been tagging along to nearly every race over the past 6 months to capture race footage – from grim cross country events under flight paths and grey skies (Donnington National Championships in February, I’m looking at you) to blisteringly hot Midlands League events such as Tamworth where Ed has taken it upon himself to gather points for his team and navigate immovable barriers at speed. The steeplechase really is an event for masochists.

I’ve captured lots of footage, but it only makes sense in the grand scheme of a longer documentary. For a 3 minute short film, I felt that the narrative would have been all over the place moving from race to race. As such, by the time May came around I had settled on the idea of focusing on a single race for the My RØDE Reel entry: Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs. This is an event that Ed has raced before and I’ve attended as a spectator, but this year it was extra special as the ‘A’ races were also set to be the England Athletics 10,000m championships and decide which athletes would compete at the Olympics this summer.

Read more…