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.