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Getting on the right track for a video spectacular

Tony Butler puts his feet up to tell you all about the making of the Fields of Fire video.

"Making a video is always an exciting prospect, until you have to get up at 5.30 in the morning. We had to meet up at Kings Cross with a "record company person" who would then drive us to a place called Stibbington just outside Peterborough for a 9am start.

The location is the home of a beautifully preserved steam engine called the "Pride of Petersborough" with a station (Wansford) to match. We were greeted by a cheerful film company who were set up and ready to shoot scenes of us shunting up and down the track. While one camera was capturing our performance inside the carriage, the director had cameras shooting from the engine and the side of the track - shots which were used to great effect in the final composition (bellowing steam, raging steel wheels, etc). The next sequence brought in the first extra, dressed as a piper in full tartan dress, complete with pipes. His role was to stand in the middle of the track with the steam train careering out of a tunnel and stopping just short of his feet. Apparently he was right when he decided to jump out of the way on the second take - the train overshot its marker!

After about an hour of the four of us running up and down a hill faces pretending to be The Professionals, our first day of filming came to a close. Before I go on to the next day, for any steam train lovers, the Nene Valley Steam Railway is open to the public.

Day 2 started with a quiet drive (record company person at the helm) up to Chobham near Guildford in Surrey - quiet because everybody was asleep owing to the fact that we had to get up at 6am. This was the location for the fantasy World War One scenes. Ourselves and 16 extras had to wear the authentic WW1 British Army uniforms, complete with backpacks, gas masks and Lee Enfield rifles. Charging through 200 yards of thick mud with a hot sun beating down on us wasn't easy, but great fun.

Other facets of our acting skills were demonstrated when we had to run about 50 yards with bombs going off left, right and centre. The bombs were special effects controlled by pyrotechnic specialists working with the film crew, but they were really quite frightening. But the biggest thrill was yet to come - we were to be a gun crew firing an authentic cannon. Stuart was firing, Bruce was cocking the breach and I was unloading and loading the shells. The blank shells they used made one hell of a noise. That was brilliant!

In between shots when the extras and ourselves were just waiting around with all the smoke floating about, we got the feeling of reality and how terrible it must have been, purely because the set and the extras looked so realistic.

Other good shots included Mark beating a drum with troops marching through thick smoke with horses and cannons in the background. At the end of the day it was a relief to get the boots and uniform off, but it was a day I won't forget in a hurry. There is one aspect of the video that I haven't mentioned and that's because it was done some days earlier, but basically it features a little boy, a toy train set and toy soldiers.

We had a great two days making the video and we hope you get a chance to see and enjoy it."

by Tony Butler
Taken from the Country Club Fanzine (Issue 3)

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