“That’s a Wrap” A magical weekend summed up in a fairytale

September 29, 2009  


written by Kevin Harper (film references provided by Nick Long and Mark Scales)
It was just an ordinary marquee, and I was on an ordinary camping chair with little Ben asleep on my chest. The only sounds were the occasional leaves and conkers dropping onto the white plastic roof and the tweeting of birds in the trees. The smell of pine cones and needles wafted in, which Ben savoured with each little breath. Suddenly there was a rustling by the open entrance beside us. A squirrel was creeping up to see if we would stir, fascinated by the array of strange objects on the grass. He was probably more interested in the banana bread half unwrapped from its foil or the flapjacks carefully shut away in their tin, but that was not all that was there. A monitor was protected in a green plastic box tipped on its side, resting on a tea trolley. There were other boxes with a cornucopia of leads spilling over the edges, strange clothes wrapped in plastic on one of the many other camping chairs. From somewhere not far into the forest, the silence was broken by a human voice:


Darren Directing in the Woods with Ash and Josh

This was no ordinary forest, this was Pinewood; Pinewood Studios, or more specifically, the location gardens back lot at Pinewood Studios. In another part of this fairytale world the magic was happening once again. There we were, camped within a stone’s throw of The Devil’s Breath from The World is Not Enough; and not far away was the lake along which there was to be a clashing of swords, the forest path where an old woman was to be gathering firewood, the stone overgrown bridge where our heroine was to retrace Connery’s steps in From Russia with Love, running from the man she only just met a few hours before in the woods.

Prince and Cinders on Pinewood Gardens BridgeBen and I needed that nap to save up the energy we needed for the things to come. We were to throw stones into the water with a ‘plop’ from the little wooden bridge many famous steps had crossed. We were to watch the fountain from the water’s edge where many a period-costumed artiste had taken afternoon tea. We were to walk along the manicured yew-hedged avenue featured in The Tudors, into the eclectic building of constantly-changing styles. Firstly it was an art deco conservatory with a back garden we intruded on, next it was a pink modernistic affair before gently turning into a Georgian mansion around the corner. This has been there for years, like the deeply-rooted tree outside, but a wooden door with painted-on brickwork left you wondering which bits had not.

Inside we were to see the domed foyer with awards behind glass screens and pictures lining the corridors from all the best movies from the best epochs of cinema. You got a glimpse of what it must be to have been there; the bulky cameras with canapé-platter reels, puny scaffolding poles supporting solid-looking structures. The stars had engrained their presence here.

Cinders gathering wood in Pinewood forest

But the most fascinating spell had been cast a little way from our encampment. The enchanters had created a fairly simple-looking street scene. Even little Ben could understand that it was two-dimensional and held up by a climbing frame of scaffolding, but there was something more. Each detail of these stone façades had been conjured so perfectly that, as you trod on the stone steps, unevenly weathered by so many boots, it still took you by surprise to hear the hollow clunk of wood under your feet.

And, as something was brewing in the cave, the Backyard team were mixing together their own blend of the real and the fantastical to make our own indelible mark on this surreal place. As the conkers intermittently fell on the roof, the birds sang in the trees and hopped along the fallen leaves in the late September sunshine, we drifted from one dreamland to another, keeping one eye open for the squirrel.


3 Responses to ““That’s a Wrap” A magical weekend summed up in a fairytale”

  1. Ed on September 29th, 2009 10:39 pm

    Great post Kev, thank you!

  2. Sue on September 30th, 2009 12:33 pm

    Well done Kevin for looking after Ben over the weekend. You were a hero.

    And well done to everyone who contributed to building and dressing the cave set. The end result looked amazing. Special mention to Peter who provided most of the props and was up at 2am on the Saturday night trying to get the ideal consistency for the ‘bat’s blood’ – now that’s what I call dedication!

  3. Joanne Mallaby on October 2nd, 2009 10:51 pm

    WOW great to see my daughters picture on here! She had a fab time at Sundown.Thanks xx

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