Coaching Evening April 8th

ovfm coaching

As you know, I have tried to arrange something different each year, to test your reactions of interest, which is why these evenings have changed from around Christmas to now..

On 25th March at the first evening of this session Simon showed us the different basic aspects of lighting and how to use reflectors to improve shadows etc. Sam was a willing model and also a presenter. This could have run and run, but we then had Lee’s presentation of the Celtx free programme for screenplays etc. There was a good discussion on the pros and cons of it. Thanks to those who contributed and spent time on their presentations, very useful and entertaining. You can see Simon’s notes HERE an I urge you to at least glance through it.

The members who attended appreciated the evening, the rest of you missed it!

The next on April 8th will see Mike Shaw on an evening of Music – in films, moods and sources for us to use. Should be entertaining and I might even film it for posterity, or whatever we choose to call our Archives.

Then, on April 22nd we’ll try what we haven’t before and have four members demonstrating their editing and other programmes in the four corners of the hall, to only 3 or 4 members each, with questions and answers, as follows:

David Laker will be using Pinnacle Studio for those who want to see a basic demo in action;

John Epton will show multi cam editing on Serif MoviePlus, plus the very useful (and cheap) noise reduction software Music & Speech Cleaner. Why not bring along a troublesome audio on a USB stick and he could try to fix it? May also include Animations on Serif Draw Plus, if time allows

Andy Watson will also be using Serif;

I’ll show Edius and the stabilisation software Mercalli – bring some shaky clips!

Naturally, numbers are limited for this event (as they say for all the best raves), so let me know if you wish to come.

Ian Menage

OVFM Coaching Evenings 2014

ovfm coaching

It’s Spring 2014 and once again it is time for us to restore the faith in our less confident filmmakers with the annual coaching evening sessions.

As ever Ian “Hole In One” Menage has been hard at work constructing another programme for all of us to benefit from with helpful advice and masterclasses from the more experienced and knowledge club members to aid those of us still in the starting blocks with improving our filmmaking skills.

There is one notable change to the programme this year – we will NOT being making a film as part of these sessions. This was part of the programme in the past but it was felt that we were rushing some of the more practical and theoretical aspects of these tutorials in the hurry to put them into practice. Therefore this  year, while there will be some practical endeavours, the idea is that we have time to refine and apply what we have learned in our time with the end results hopefully being demonstrated in our films entered for the Top 10 or project evenings.

This is the current list of dates and proposed by Ian along with the subject and theme for each evening (subject to change):

Mar 25: Lighting with Simon Earwicker / Scriptwriting with Celtx pt 2 with Lee Relph

Apr 8: Music in film: Best choices of music for your film / Music software and royalty free music with Mike Shaw

Apr 22: Editing Different editing suites demonstrations (in small groups) with John Epton, David Laker and Andy Watson

May 6:  Outside filming practice Pt 1 – practical filming experience at a nearby external location

May 20: Outside filming practice Pt 2 – As above

We do hope you will all take the opportunity to attend these sessions and improve both your knowledge and understanding of filmmaking and equipment, as previous years have proven to be invaluable to those who have attended. Good or bad we’ve all learned something!

Any further questions should be directed to Ian Menage at or please check back at this page for any updates.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you there!

OVFM Club Meeting Tuesday November 12th 2013




Over the past couple of years our entries for the annual North vs South competition, as well as the Coaching Evenings, has seen an emergence of club members starting to write their own scripts, which is encouraging as our drama/comedy output is somewhat dwarfed in relation to holiday, documentary and sundry films that don’t rely on a scripted structure.

However – there is always a “however” – it is evident that some extra guidance is needed on the actual mechanics of scriptwriting and more importantly the formatting of the scripts to make them better looking and easier for others to understand and follow. This latter facet may not seem important on the surface but trust me, it is.

Therefore we bring you this evening dedicated to exploring the world of scriptwriting further, looking at structure, characters, dialogue, description and direction notes and answering any questions you may have. And to make matters worse, your’s truly (yes me – the world’s worst public orator) will attempt to bring you a live demonstration of the wondrous (and free) script writing tool Celtx (which I have promoted elsewhere on this site) which hopefully will enlighten you to the benefits of using this tool over MS Word and encourage you all (well, some of you) to give it ago and produce a professional looking script for your future productions.

Hope to see you all there (or not, so I don’t have to embarrass myself in front everyone)!

OVFM Coaching Evenings 2013

ovfm coaching

Coaching Evenings 2013


Ian Menage

Following the success of last year’s coaching evening sessions, which resulted in the making of The Amazing Healing Machine, we will be running a second group of sessions in 2013.

As already trailed at previous meetings, this time the emphasis will be on a debriefing of the last shoot and of Disastermind, with the intention of putting useful improvements into practice and to make a short film later.

We need members who were directly involved in these shoots to volunteer and to describe any problems they faced and to give their views freely. Also any suggestions for us to take to the next one.

Experienced members can help the Club in the supervising and setting up aspects. This is also what a real (reel?) club is all about, isn’t it?

For your diary, the four Tuesdays will be in the usual Barnard Room at 7.30 for 8pm:

Feb 26th – show the Healing machine, comments and then Disastermind and comments

March 12th  –  follow on with the introduction of the shoot and making arrangements –  who does what.  Also run through the script and it’s requirements.

April 9th   – start the shoot

April 23rd   – finish it!

Please do step forward and offer to take on the various roles. Who’s first to be Director, Clapperboard  etc….?  It will be a bit if fun as well as hard work!  So come along.  I’ll be looking for the first volunteers at the next meeting.

Then as before copies of the footage will be circulated to those who wish to have a go at editing and creating a film for the Club.

Please ring me on 01732 462900 or email with any suggestions and offers to help make this a useful and successful event.


The Making Of The Amazing Healing Machine Part 2


The Making Of The Amazing Healing Machine

(Or What The Hell Did I let Myself In For?)


A personal account of the OVFM Coaching Evenings film project


Lee Relph


Part One can be found HERE


Part Two – With A Little Help From My Friends

I didn’t sleep well on that Monday night as I found myself the sufferer of a very painful twinge in my neck, presumably from having to strain to look upwards for hours on end at the viewfinder on Barbara Darby Mk 1‘s camera, which was cranked to full height and Barbara herself was standing on a chair in order to operate it, putting her in the rare position of being taller than me for once! Suffice to say this lack of sleep coupled with my own inherent pessimism made me a rather fraught character heading into the second day of filming of our Coaching Evening film “The Amazing Healing Machine”.

Will day two be as productive as day one?

Despite this there was a small flicker of optimism dancing around inside of me after we had managed to get quite a bit of filming down on that first night and I had hopes of us being able to pick up where we left off and hopefully not have this session drag on as late as the first did. However, I never could have imagined that a good 90 plus minutes of our afternoon would be lost due to a simple red light bulb.

Sylvia subtly points out a problem with the red light bulb

For the uninitiated, part of the titular healing machine was a flashing red light bulb on the top which made for a great effect. But some members of the cast complained that the brightness and heat from the bulb was uncomfortable and distracting and therefore we needed to suppress the glare. A fairly straightforward problem to resolve, right? Wrong! Over the course of that 90 plus minutes we tried everything from plastic cups, to glasses to sit over the bulb, to wrapping it with toilet paper (!) to hiding behind other bits of equipment but elevated slightly so it could still be seen and none of these ideas worked. Some of the cast and crew were beginning to get impatient, so to say I was feeling the pressure much earlier into the session than I had envisioned is an understatement – though I guess that comes with the territory of being director and this was supposed to be a learning experience for all of us, including myself. But at least I didn’t hit anybody! Eventually thanks to Barbara Walker and my long suffering chauffeur and longer suffering father, a resolution was found and a glass tankard covered in black gaffer tape in the design of an old lantern (i.e a grid pattern) covered the bulb and dulled glare to the satisfaction of everyone. Phew!

All those years of wathcing "Blue Peter" finally paid off..

So we finally started shooting a bit later than I had hoped and things were going well enough until we ran into another problem – the curtain we were using wasn’t high enough and would expose our fraudulent stage set up. Only then did we learn that the frame supporting the curtain (which is the club’s green screen support frame) could go higher so we had to stop filming in order to adjust the height. Like the day before, people jumped right into the tick of the action to handle this task which also meant some making some alterations from the previous set up which meant the job took longer than we had hoped. But with everyone co-operating the curtain was finally set to the new height and filming recommenced – until the kids club next door started making noises! If ever there was an argument for birth control….

Sue puts on a brave face while Roarke's patience with the noisy kids next door is running out...

Now, I don’t want to embarrass the poor fellow but after a fairly smooth run of shooting we hit another roadblock when Val Pinkerton, who was playing the man with a stutter, kept forgetting his line. It was important he delivered the line as written because it was the feed for Mike Shaw’s next line but Val couldn’t get the line right. To paraphrase Eric Morecombe, he was saying pretty much the right words but not necessarily in the right order! We tried everything: making Val repeat the line over and over, leading man Roarke Alexander made a musical mantra out of the line, and we even tried the threat of physical violence but Val would trip up at the last moment. Eventually Roger Wheatley wrote the line on a piece of paper and held up for Val to read from and eventually he did it! Yay Val! I only bring this up, not to humiliate or belittle Val as I know acting is not for everyone, and Val is to be commended for volunteering, but because it was another instance where we all rallied round to put Val at ease and to coach him into delivering the line correctly which he did and earned a deserved round of applause afterwards. Before you ask, no I didn’t get angry with Val. How could I? He was not a pro actor and despite what should have been a huge problem, this was one of the more amusing moments of the shoot!

Just because I want to strangle you doesn't necessarily mean I am angry with you....

And lo it was but a while afterwards that we took the final shot and I was able to utter those immortal words “And that’s a wrap!” to weary applause before most of the cast and crew got their coats and bolted for the door! I jest of course but now came the tidying up and again, the set became a hive of activity as bodies were everywhere stacking chairs, coiling cables, dismantling camera tripods, the lights, the curtains and the frame, gaffer tape was removed from the floors and walls (and glass tankard) and everything was returned to normal. When it was all said and down and we had said our collective goodbyes to the people we had been locked away with for hours on end for two days, I took a moment to reflect on how this now empty Garden Rooms in which I stood in had just moments earlier been a film set bristling with energy and activity, where a group of people had come together for a common cause and in the process not only gained an education in filmmaking but integrated with fellow club members they had hitherto never conversed with.

Getting to know each other...

Until I see the captured footage I will remain apprehensive as to whether I successfully conveyed my requirements from the cast or not but from what little I can recall, they all seemed to understand and interpreted my ideas to the best of their abilities and I can honestly say that no-one let anybody down over the two days we spent together working on this film. I must confess to having some regrets in that I didn’t get the time or chance to learn more on the production side of things, i.e: setting up the cameras (white balancing, zebras, etc) and the lighting and sound, but others did benefit from this and I learned so much about directing a larger cast and crew, so we can safely say that the project has achieved its objective and I hope that this experience hasn’t put anyone off from wanting to make their own fictional film in the future.

Mike actually looks bigger in real life...

So, I once again offer my sincerest gratitude to everyone who gave up their time for the sake of this project and for their hard work and support over those two frosty days of January 23rd and 24th. And here is the roll call of all who participated or contributed to the project:


Mike Shaw (Mr. Wiggins)

Basil Doody (Caretaker)

Val Pinkerton (“Man with Stutter”)

Richard Pugh (“Man with Twitch”)

Barbara Walker (“Woman with Limp”)

Roger Wheatley (“Dozing Man”)

Brenda Wheatley (“Dozing Man’s Wife”/Light bulb operator)

Ian Menage (Producer/”Coughing Man”/Behind The Scenes” Filming)

Barbara Darby (Cameras/Set Design/Props)

John Bunce (Cameras/Healing Machine)

Bob Wyeth (Cameras/Healing Machine)

John Ransley (Lights/Sound)

Sue Ward (Poster/Clapperboard/Notes and Continuity/Set Design)

Sylvia Snipp (Camera Assistant/Set Designer/Props)

John Epton (Technical Advisor)

Chris Coulson (Equipment/Technical Advisor)

Anna Littler (Costumes)

Freddie Beard (Catering)

Simon “Snapper” Earwicker (Photographs)


Outside Contibutors

Roarke Alexander (Dr. Jape)

Fiona Ward (“Pregnant Lady”)

Tony Relph (Chauffeur/Notes and Continuity/General duties)

Liz Carter (St. Augustine’s Rooms Booking Officer)

In closing I would just like to make one final but what I feel is a crucial point about this project. All too often this has been referred to as “Lee’s film” or “Lee and Ian’s film”. This is incorrect. It is an OVFM film and thus is the film of everyone who contributed. Ian and myself may have been the major driving forces behind it but ultimately this is a group project and I don’t anyone to forget this fact, so everyone feel free to say “This is a film I made” with confidence and conviction.

Working together


Once again a huge thanks to everyone involved and I’m now off a very long lie down….

The End

Photos courtesy of Simon “Snapper” Earwicker

The Making Of The Amazing Healing Machine Part 1


The Making Of The Amazing Healing Machine

(Or What The Hell Did I let Myself In For?)


A personal account of the OVFM Coaching Evenings film project


Lee Relph

Part One – A Hard Day’s Night

On January 23rd 2012, members of OVFM descended upon the Garden Rooms at St Augustine’s Church, Petts Wood to make a short film entitled “The Amazing Healing Machine” as a part of the Coaching Evenings Project. This is a look at what happened during the two days of the film’s production from the perspective of the only person gullible enough and insane enough to put himself forward for the role of director:


It looks so much easier in the movies….

(click on thumbails for larger picture)

As many of you should already be aware the Coaching Evenings Project was the brainchild of Ian Menage in conjunction with the OVFM Committee (aka The Legion Of Doom), with the aim to teach us noobs and ignorami a thing or two about film making then we go on and make a short film ourselves with this new found knowledge. The script came from an outline submitted by Colin Jones and transformed by yours truly. Because I write in such a way that I envisage everything as a finished product in my head then transcribe that into words on paper/computer screen, I was therefore found myself to be somewhat parochial and nominated myself as director for this film which remarkably went uncontested by the rest of the group who had already taken the cushier production jobs for themselves.

Working hard as usual….

I won’t lie to you: I was nervous heading into that first day and hadn’t slept much the night before. This was beyond the usual reservations of whether people would turn up or forget to bring their equipment or if something drastic went wrong. It had been almost two years since I made my multi-award winning opus “Writers Block” and I was having serious doubts as to whether I could pull off the directing job a second time (the two other films I have made since, “The Miracle” and “Looking For Dave”, were much smaller affairs I can’t consider them to be in the same league). It didn’t occur to me at the time but a few days later it hit me that the number of cast members alone for this film was greater than the entire cast and crew combined for “Writers Block”. I’m not entirely sure why I was so oblivious to this fact but it was probably just as well because I may have crumbled under the pressure had I thought about the fact that so many people were looking to me for guidance and order but the reality probably was I simply just didn’t have time to think about it.

Shall I tell him he’s about to be clobbered by the boom mic?

We began the day with an empty room needing to be turned into a workable film set and in a true community spirit, people you wouldn’t normally see fraternising together during club tea breaks bandied together to help set the workspace up, be it setting up the cameras, lights, curtains, blocking out windows or putting out chairs. Eventually everything was set up and it was time for rehearsals after we stopped for a quick tea break. Our leading man Roarke Alexander led the charge for the cast for a quick read through of the script. Not only was it interesting to see the script come to life but it also revealed just who hadn’t learned their lines!

Did they have iPads in the1940’s?

I am ashamed to admit that I began to fear that this might not come together as I envisioned it and if I had sufficient directorial clout to guide our mostly non-professional cast through the forest of hardship to the promised land of a watchable film. Naturally I hid my concerns but the turning point came when we had a few minutes to get the first shots which were of the poster on the wall outside. Somehow, just saying the magic words “Action”, even with just four of us outside in the freezing cold dusky forecourt, I felt a lot of the anxieties ebb away, as though putting the proverbial director’s hat on for the first time in a long while acted as a sedative for the nerves and doubts swilling around inside of me. After a few takes I felt a very small surge of confidence but I knew at the same time I couldn’t get cocky as I have found in the past that whenever I get supremely confident or excited something it all goes horribly wrong, which probably explains my permanently dour demeanour. After all, a pessimist is never disappointed.

Roarke Alexander looks on helplessly while John Ransley has to turn away…

It was starting to get late but around 6:00pm we finally got down to the main bulk of filming for this first day following the arrival of our second guest performer, Sue Ward’s daughter Fiona, who brought her own baby bump with her! I learned the next day that Fiona was actually a little under the weather as well as heavily pregnant which made me feel guilty as we overran when trying to set up the final shot with her character, something which was proving to be a source of frustration for me but I knew I couldn’t let it defeat me since I was the man in charge. But we got there in the end al though it is kind of ironic that with all the filmmakers in the room it was Roarke who came up with the eventual solution! I have to say that Fiona did very well in her role; I don’t know the extent of her acting experience prior to this but she delivered everything I asked from her and did so with good spirits despite her discomfort.

Better get a mop in case my waters break!!

Having run so long we had to rush a little to get the final scene of the night shot which involved Mike Shaw and Basil Doody. The sense of relief from the remainder of the cast was palpable as they were excused and couldn’t wait to get their coats and head for home, which was a little disparaging as we still trying to film! I couldn’t really blame them though as I was running on auto pilot by this point myself but the onus was on my shoulders so I had to soldier on and with everyone’s cooperation we got the shot done fairly quickly and the first day of filming was brought to a close.

Hurry up and take that down so we can get out of here!

It was almost 9:00pm before we shut up shop that night but it felt much later. Six hours may not seem like a long working day by being inside a room with artificial and manipulated lighting, with little fresh air (remember it was freezing outside) and you’re working non-stop barely getting to sit down, time becomes distorted, almost a redundant concept, something I am sure most of us have experienced at one time or another on a film shoot of this nature. I can’t really lament this since it comes with the territory and is a by product of the director’s responsibility of the director to keep everything moving. No wonder nobody else volunteered for the role!

We’re all right! We’ve got the cushy jobs!!

So that was the first day over with. Although I didn’t feel it myself, I did receive some kind words from a few people remarking on how much we got done that day. Unfortunately I couldn’t see past the length of time spent on the setting up of the shots and the general dwindling of energy towards the end so I had to take their word for it. There was a small part of me that was relieved it was over for the day but this was quickly replaced with the dread of the realisation that it was not over and we had to come back to do it all again the next day….

You’re coming back tomorrow whether you like it or not!!

To Be Continued…

Photos courtesy of Simon “Snapper” Earwicker


Carry On Coaching…By Jove it’s the Rehearsal!

Smile and The Whole World Smiles With You

While Old Man Winter has been quietly cloaking itself in Spring’s mantle (fingers crossed) the Intelligentsia Juggernaut that is the OVFM Coaching Experience has been steadily rumbling onward towards it’s goal…like some giant, steady, rumbling thing.

Chris Points Like There's No Tomorrow

Monday 23rd January 2012 saw a crack team of keen film makers, actors, technical gurus, avid students of cinema and assorted hangers on, gather in the Garden Room for what was to go down in Club history as quite literally ‘the rehearsal’.

"Make it So Barbara"

Under Lee Relph’s directorship a film was to be brought to life before our very eyes…and we were excited, very excited! In fact some of us had not been this excited since we’d witnessed Freddy leap to her feet like a startled gazelle, announce to the assembled group that she was ‘Feeling hot, hot, hot’, sprint down the garden and dive head first into the pool with a cry of ‘SERIAC forever!’. I can tell you that’s one committee meeting I wont forget in a hurry. What a woman!

"My, my, that is a flat cap and no mistake!"

Anyway getting back to the plot we find our hero Lee taking Colin Jones’ script idea and crafting it into a screenplay fit for Bollywood, with dancing, singing, colourful costumes, casts of thousands, a sword fight, two exploding wedding cakes, a donkey, a romance, a romantic donkey…in fact it had everything…except the budget!

There's got to be an easier way to get a suntan!


I think therefore I film

So our poor hero (ahh) returns to his draughty garret, takes up his quill, and by the feeble light of a guttering candle he sets to work again. For seven days and seven nights not a sound is heard from his attic room but the scratching of nib on coarse paper. It’s about this time that Lee decides he really should have invested in some ink, and casting aside his quill he reaches instead for his trusty laptop and with two bounds he revises the script and makes his deadline with just seconds to spare.

No! We are NOT making a blue film!

Wrapping a morsel of cheese and a crust of dry bread in a checkered handkerchief he sets off for the bright lights of London Town (with his cat), to make his fortune. And when he hears the sound of Bow Bells he knows (and so does the cat, it’s a very intelligent cat. The sort of cat that can catch it’s own supper, look after it’s self and do a little light conveyancing on the side) that Everything Was Going To Turn Out Fine.

There's the doers... and then there's the don'ters

And so it transpired. Lee made his film and it was Good. And the people said ‘Behold! This IS a Good film.’ And our hero lived happily ever after and went on to make many more movies, all critically acclaimed masterpieces. However they were sadly also commercial flops, but that didn’t matter because when the property market finally picked up the cat was ready and made an absolute killing and there was plenty of money to live on and to finance Lee’s cinematic extravaganzas for years to come!

Star Quality always shows through

But I get ahead of myself, that is all for another day.

For now it is still just the rehearsal (but with a bit of filming too, well actually quiet a bit of filming, in fact there’s a heck of a lot of filming going on to be honest, mainly ‘cos of this and that reason, you know how it is.)

Determined to make a clean sweep Basil brings his new broom.
Steady As A Rock

Anyway the “rehearsal”!

People flocked from every quarter of the compass to join the team. They flocked like…erm…birds, like exotic birds, like bejewelled birds of paradise, their wings scattering prisms of rainbow coloured light as they flew. And when passers-by looked up and saw them they gasped at their beauty, and the wise ones among them nodded sagely and said

“that there them be from OVFM, ’tisn’t for the likes of us, look away.”

But a particularly kindly old bird (but still with nicely preserved plumage and his own beak) hearing this swooped down and invited the passers-by to come along (without obligation for two meetings, and then after that special rates for couples, students and juniors, terms and conditions apply, bejewelled wings not a guarantee), and they did, and the people rejoiced.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

So as I was saying people came, people helped, people loitered, lights were put up, put down, chairs were arranged, added to, moved, sat upon. People acted, people filmed, sometimes people even filmed the actors. Tea was drunk, chips were scoffed, and finally after much hard work, energetic endeavour, and the occasional pregnant pause (Fiona we salute your forbearance) it was time to wrap the cans or whatever it is that they say in MovieLand.

Until, that is, TOMORROW!

Is There A Midwife in the House?


Click HERE for Part Two..

See The Light, Get on Track…it’s the Third Coaching Evening!

 With the evenings drawing in and austerity measures meaning street lamps are going out all over Europe, the time seemed ripe for a practical night on lighting etc at OVFM.

Tony in the Hot seat

The buzz of expectancy at the club on Tuesday 15th November was enough to make your fillings rattle as The Crew set to work transfering the hall into an outpost of Hollywood (or Pinewood, Bollywood or any other Wood you fancy). So for those of you who missed this great event here is a complete and truthful report of what occured…honest!

Is it me, or is this Seat getting Hotter?

Lights, camera…screen, projector…more lights, tripod, volunteers, more lights and ACTION! But first Ian took centre stage to get the ball rolling on the bijou but perfectly formed Coaching Evening Cinematic Extravaganza. This production will be the culmination of what will quite literally be a film making journey as week by every other week the Coaching Evenings build into a collection you”ll treasure forever…free binder with issue one.

“I Want an Actor with Long Arms”


“Please…I’m begging”

Pep talk given, scripts distributed, volunteers…err volunteered it was time to Bring On The Coach! Drum roll please, draw back those curtains and give a warm OVFM Coaching Evening The Third welcome to…eh Chris!

“O…V…F…M all together now O…V…F…M…”

Fresh faced and totally pumped after leading his own all day seminar on “how to do techy stuff” (don”t ask me, I still need two hands to tell the time…curse you wretched LED watch) Chris soon launched into part one of the evening.

Don’t Try This at home Children

And tonights subject? Lighting, lighting, lighting oh and a bit of tracking.

We have the lights Now all we need is a subject…bring on the first victim.

Marko Casts A Long Shadow

Tony steps up and is soon bathed in light as Chris shows the effect of dramatic side lighting. Tony”s rugged, handsome and very distinguished face, seemed to exude quiet authority as he sat calmly surveying the scene before him with regal gravitas (and let me just take this opportunity to thank Tony for his kind and totally unexpected contribution to my little charity). As Chris worked the camera Tony”s face appeared in glorious super close-up on the wall. Thus the effect of the lights could be easily viewed by all and the large and attentive audience of “wannabespielbergs” as they like to be know, to study the fall of light and shade in detail.


Charlie and Nellie take it all too seriously

Marko then skilfully manned the reflector to demonstrate how it can be used to reduce contrast in strong lighting conditions and kick light back where it”s needed. As Chris pointed out, unlike our eyes, the camera is unable to cope with the extremes of contrast that occur in many situations. The lit areas of the subject can too bright and overexposed while the unlit shadow areas can be dark voids without any features. So lighting should be managed to control this by the intelligent use of reflectors or “fill” lighting.

The Team Bask in Reflected Glory

Reflectors. Why are they available in different colours?

Now at this point you are probably expecting some explanatory photos for illustration purposes.

Well! It”s like this. Needing a subject for the photos I contacted our regular Go-to Glam Girl Model to propose a short photographic sitting.

“How much?” Freddy demanded down the phone.

Naturally I was taken aback. After all Freddy is well known for her generous nature, as well as her beauty, and anyway the OVFM photographic slush fund had recently been withdrawn (don”t ask, but my all expenses paid long weekend in Paris slot machines to seek “inspiration” may have been a contributory factor) and I was now totally skint.

“How about a chip butty and a nice big mug of tea Freddy.” I suggest, thinking this a very tempting offer, especially as we all know tea is the drink of champions.

“Wise guy! I don”t get of of bed for less than £10,000!” She shouted, before throwing the phone down with such force I was deeply concerned for the safety of any innocent bystander who may have been passing.

And so in the abscence of our very own diva of the catwalk I shall just have to describe the lighting effects, thanks Freddy!

What a Noble Countenance

Silver, neutral in colour but with maximum reflectivity.

White, also neutral in colour but less reflective, when you want less fill or your don”t want to dazzle your subject.

Gold (or similar) this is not neutral coloured but adds a “warm” tint to the subject that is not unlike a suntan and consequently gives a healthy glow to the subject. Use sparingly as the colour cast can appear unnatural if used in the wrong situation.


Chris Softens the light


Black, being a simple soul it took me years to get my head round the concept of a black reflector but now I “get it” as it is a very useful tool to control light. Basically you use it to subtract light and selectively shade the subject. For example if the subject is close to a colourful surface that is casting light onto it and you”re unable to reposition the subject then place the black reflector between the two. Or if you”re in a small, light walled room but you want dramatic deep shadows on your subject use the black reflector to block the natural fill. Or finally my favourite use for it is in available light portaits outside where “toppy” lighting can occur that throws the eye sockets into shadow. Use the black reflector (or similar) above and infront of the subject to block that top lighting so that the face is illuminated from the front (a similar effect can be achieved by taking the subject under the shade of a tree, for example).


Basil starts a Mexican wave

 Tony was very much at ease in the spotlight so it was time for Chris to welcome contributions from the audience. Basil made the excellent point that there were budget alternatives to the flexible, steel hoop style reflector that Chris was using. Options like silver foil on card (but do crumple the foil first), space blanket (excellent for portability, cheap but does require a friend or two to hold it), a white bed sheet (obviously coloured reflectors are not suitable as they add a colour cast to the subject). In truth any pale surface can be used to kick back a little light into the shadow side of the subject, a white wall or even a sheet of newspaper if you can get it close enough.

Malcolm Directs the Lighting Crew

Rising to the challenge of creating Mastermind style lighting Malcolm and others leapt to the fore to tinker with angles, brightness, distance and even subject…sorry Tony but you”re FIRED!


Chris Channels the Great Hitchcock

Chris was also keen to show off his latest hi-tech acquisition, not his iphone (for once!) but a one metre wide by two metre long, half centimetre thick, deformable and light weight, tri-form waffled construction, fully recyclable device for light occlusion. Okay, okay! Yes it was just a piece of tatty old cardboard.

Chris Demonstrates 21st Century Technology

Chris Demonstrates 21st Century Technology[/caption]

Apparently this was all that Chris could afford since the budget available for club equipment had somehow been mysteriously depleted recently…but on the positive side some really excellent French cheeses are being served at the commitee meetings nowadays thanks to a generous but unnamed benefactor.

Film Noir lives in Orpington


“What is Your Name???”

Anyway the point is that in the hands of an expect (where were you Reg when we needed you?) the cardboard can be used like barn doors, or a snoot, or a baffle, or a gobo, or in other words it can stop light going where it”s not welcome. We also learnt of giant inflatable screens used by film makers to shade large areas, which can be suspended from cranes for maximum effect.

Pay Attention

Back light, background light, natural light, window light, room light, even light…the whole lighting thing is a real biggy. Chris could only touch on some elements of it in the limited time available but the subject will doubtless be returned to at future OVFM meetings or if you have any questions the club is replete with expertise so just ask around.

Backlight…and you can dry your hair too

After teabreak it was time for part two of the evening which majored on the woefully under ultilised but highy effective club dolly tracking system. This simple, lightweight and easy to use gadget can add a real polish to your production by allowing the camera to move along smoothly and in a controlled way.

The route of the new HS2 causes concern

Chris demonstrated a number of uses for the tracking technique and several eager students took the opportunity to have a go themselves.

Untie that Maiden Now

My absolute fav use of the dolly and tracks is the “Jaws” effect as I think of it. It is more properly known as the dolly zoom, or also as the Hitchcock Zoom, the Vertigo Zoom, the Trombone Shot etc.

There”s a scene in Jaws where the Police Chief (actor Roy Scheider) is sitting on the beach watching the tourists splash in the surf whilst convinced a rogue shark is about to strike but unable to close the beach. His keen eyes spot something in the water and as the emotions are written across his shocked face the camera rapidly tracks towards him while the lens zooms out (from telephoto to wideangle) to maintain his face at the same size. The resultant change in perspective is dramatic, unsettling and very spectacular.


An orderly queue forms to ‘shoot’ Chris


With Bob and Lee in full acting mode, Anna, Jane, Freddy, Chris and others demonstrated this technique with great success. Andy has been producing DVD”s of all the Coaching Evenings and they are available to buy, this demo alone has got to make the purchase worthwhile…it looked fab, especially with Bob performing at Oscar winning level.

Bob’s big moment

So sadly, with time having beaten us, the momentous Third Coaching Evening came to an end.


We were tired, entertained, uplifted but most of all thanks to Chris and his band of helpers we were all a bit wiser too.

Am I the only sane one?


An Unusual Angle!

The lights and the track system belong to the club and can be booked out for use by club members along with a variety of other equipment (look in the Members” Section of the website for details). DVD”s of  this and the other Coaching evenings are available for a small fee from Andy. Psst…and if it”s delicious French cheese you”re after just tip me the wink and I”ll see what I can do.

Andy Misses Nowt