Dreams and Magic at Sundown

October 21, 2009  

If you’ve ever been on Facebook, you’ll have done it; looked through the pictures of someone you haven’t actually met in ages. Nothing unusual in that, but this one had me particularly transfixed. She was standing in front of an olde world sweet shop, waving her arm at her young son who was taking the picture. For me, it was a very strange coincidence. There was no doubt, this was where I was going to be spending the following weekend, and what a weekend it turned out to be.

The Sweetshop at Sundown Adventureland

Of course, the brave and tragic stories were being played out well before I arrived. The Backyard Productions team were busy setting up their very odd devices to start filming at a new location – Sundown Adventureland. This is a theme park in Nottinghamshire aimed at the under tens, and they create such imaginative settings that it seemed the logical choice for our make-believe fairytale world.

Ash shooting from the Scaffold at Sundown Adventureland This was always going to be one of the greatest challenges we had ever faced. From day one, our small group was having to deal with a large supporting cast to get the right atmosphere of a bustling town. Luckily they are were all willing to get stuck in and join in all the fun, and Caroline was amazing to get them all into the right costumes! We had to set up a scaffolding framework and platform to get a high shot over the castle walls into the courtyard below. At one point they had to put a ladder up against one of the towers, as the Prince clung to it.

Although most of the filming on the first day was done in a little corner away from ride entrances – the theme park was fully open during all this – some of the most complicated scenes had to be filmed with people going in and out of rides around us. Each of us was carefully directed by Dom and Julie, so it looked like a bustling marketplace or a rhythmical dance number. Some of us were yelling out like market traders and some of us were just walking past pretending to buy orange and melons, sometimes even in front of the main action.

Cinders House

The Tractor Ride in the park is one of the most popular ones, but we took over part of the entrance to film Cinders’ house exterior. The little ones wanting to see all the farmyard displays were bemused by the sight of our pantomime dames hanging out their bloomers. One particular scene involving a fight took place in the Robin Hood ride, the pirate ship, the Wild West area as well as the market. If you’ve ever done filming you’ll know how difficult that is, with all the starts and stops and doing it over and over again for different angles.

09-09-05-Sundown-Filming-24905-kevpostIt was in the market that a lot of the more complex scenes took place, including the opening song. Doing very tiring dance routines over and over couldn’t have been easy for our performers. Even my very mundane bit had me out of breath after the tenth take!

The scene that was the most technically complex and challenging, involving a the same dedicated supporting cast and lots of very sophisticated-looking equipment was another song. To get the right effect, we had to move until we were told to stop and remember exactly where that was, before continuing on cue. We then had to wait for it to get dark, return to the same spot and position and stay perfectly still while the main action was being recorded, with the aid of a huge spotlight. On the cue, we then had to keep going as if nothing had happened. Some people had to stop dead while walking past and stay like that for the whole song. Of course, I had it easy, because my group was just standing around chatting. And where was I standing? Next to the same olde world sweet shop that my friend was posing outside in the Facebook picture.



One Response to “Dreams and Magic at Sundown”

  1. Andrew Glazebrook on October 21st, 2009 5:06 pm

    Cool location !!!

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