Burning 1 - Filming

Report 1 - On Set 22 May 2014

As part of our sponsorship of the film, we were invited to send a representative from the Society to be on set during a day of filming.

On a wet and thunder-struck day in May, I turned up to the Weald and Downland Museum where the cast and crew of "The Burning" were on their second of three days of filming in and around some of the fantastic historical and period buildings of the museum.

As part of my brief, I took along a few pieces of my own camera gear, to help out, and to take some stills and video to use in this report. I was greeted with lots of smiles and a welcome cup of tea, and shown into "The Green Room", which was actually one of the rooms that the museum uses to display information about the next-door Tudor kitchen. Squeezed into the small room were all the bits of camera gear, lighting, props, makeup, cast, crew and the food and drink station.

We all had to wait until a specific time in the afternoon when we were allowed to start using the properties, as the museum was open to the public throughout the day. What with the thunder and lightning still rumbling around overhead, the afternoon started off with some confusion about whether to cancel the outside shoot (scheduled for half the day) and concentrate on the indoor scenes. However, just as our time slot arrived, so did the sun, so we started outside whilst we could.

One confusing thing about the way in which films are made is that the order in which the scenes are shot is nothing like the order in which we end up seeing them in the finished film. The first element to be shot was a scene of the altarboy (Dominic's son) running past a house and being shouted at by the woman who lived there. This took about an hour, after various rehearsal run throughs and actual filming and then the recording of "wild tracks" of audio that could be used in the final edit to enhance the overall sound experience of the film.

We then moved into a fantastic building from the 1550s to film the main scene and set piece of the day, a group scene around a dining table, featuring most of the cast. My overall impression of the crew was that I found it hard to believe that they where all amateurs and college students on only their second day on a real film set. They were all very professional and clearly knew the roles they had to play in the smooth running of the tightly scheduled day. This scene, and the subsequent close-ups and cut-aways filmed to give varied content for the final cut, took about three and a half hours.

There were two other scenes filmed during the rest of the day. The first was the most interesting to me, with four different camera angles used to capture the points of view (POV) of all the cast within the scene, where the poor altarboy was interrogated. At one point the cameraman was flat on his back with five angry adults shouting at him down the lens! I can't wait to see what that ends up looking like on film.

On a final note about the day, I have never seen a team clear up so quickly, in any environment. The last shot was "cut" at about ten past seven in the evening, and the entire crew with all equipment were off-site and packed up by half past seven when the museum shut it's door. Wow!

The video below is a collection of my impressions of the day, and should give you more of a visual insight to what went on. Some of the action shown will eventually end up in the film, but not my version, which purposefully shows some of the crew and much of the setup in the shots too. The titles are my own, and do not necessarily reflect anything of the final version for the film, but I hope you like them.


I hope that you have enjoyed this update about how some of the money that our Society donated to the project was being spent. I would like to thank Dominic and his entire team for making me feel so welcome and letting us have a peek into the world of film-making first hand.

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