Monday, 29 December 2008

Filming at Glamorgan

In June, 2008, just as things started to get going on the BtC pre-production front, Steve Volk mentioned that he was due to give a talk, partly on Ghostwatch, for the University of Glamorgan's upcoming 'Space. Time. Machine. Monster' conference. Realising this could be a great opportunity to learn more about the original film, it didn't take long for me to find my railcard and board the next train bound for Cardiff.

As I stepped out onto the platform at Treforest, I found myself amongst a towering band of verdant hillsides. The view was just spectacular. The university is only a short stroll down the road from the station… followed by just one or two ‘endurance-style’, uphill treks (but then, I was lugging some bulky camera cases...).

After meeting Steve in the lobby, we entered Theatre 2 and checked out the scene. By the very nature of the vast space that was made available to us, I had a feeling that recording the sound might be a problem.

The only microphone I had was attached to the camera, and having positioned myself a good twenty/thirty feet away from Steve on the stairwell, on later reviewing the footage, there was indeed a distinct, unwelcome echo on almost all the audio. Luckily, I was able to dial up Steve’s voice in post just enough to make his words come through clear, but for a while, I recall it was touch and go.

Interestingly, the full, unedited talk included a great deal more than Steve solely discussing Ghostwatch. Gothic, Afterlife, and the upcoming Telepathy were also brought up during the all-too brief fifty minutes - the teaser trailer for which even managed to garner a fleeting, but genuine round of applause from the captivated crowd.


 

After the audience had collectively filed out of the hall, Steve kindly recorded three takes of his Youtube trailer before I had to make a hasty dash for the last train home (determined as I was not to miss this one like I had before in Bristol...!). The footage took about four days to edit (including some additional filming of the intro which I shot using tripods back at the office). Technically, I suppose this is the first test footage that was ever shot for BtC. In terms of experience vs. quality, what I learned during filming has since proved invaluable.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A Man of Sound Mind

Be sure to check out Mikerophonics - the official website of Ghostwatch star, and professional sound designer, Mike Aiton.

...also Unofficial Chairman of The Adrian Edmonson Lookalike Society - "Right On!"

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Blog Poll #1

Congratulations, Ghostwatch fans! By an impressive 51% of all votes taken, you have chosen this moment as being the most frightening glimpse of spook, Mr. Pipes...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I'm sorry, I can hardly hear you...

Many of our subscribers have asked, "just what is Mr. Pipes saying in this/that scene..?"

Monday, 10 November 2008

Friday, 31 October 2008

This footage was shot by parapsychologists investigating the case...

Head on over to the GhostwatchBtC Youtube page where you can check out FOUR brand new videos!

1. Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains - Happy Hallowe'en!

Just in time for Hallowe'en comes this short collection of Ghostwatch secrets, which you may not have seen before...

 

2. Ghostwatch - The Voice (subtitled) For anyone who has ever wondered exactly what was being said during this classic scene...


 

3. Ghostwatch - Rare Alternate Voice Recording A rare, unseen version of the chilling 'tape recording' scene...


 

4. Ghostwatch - New Mr. Pipes Sighting? Is Mr. Pipes standing behind you for a ninth time?


Happy Halloween!

Don't trust your eyes and don't believe what they tell you on TV.
 
To all those who remember Halloween night 1992 and watching the "live" broadcast of Ghostwatch on BBC1, get those ducking apples out and scoop out those pumpkins because Mr Pipes is out and about this and every October 31st! .....

If you are fans of the programme, please support filmmaker Richard Lawden's attempt to get Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains, a documentary on Ghostwatch, to your screens soon.
 
Till then... "Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear...."


STEPHEN VOLK
(Screenwriter, Ghostwatch)

(Photo Credit: Jonathan Hall - Clerkenwell Films/ITV)

Meet the man who's met everyone (...Even a ghost!)

A huge thank-you goes to Sir Michael Parkinson for choosing the next topic for his special, Hallowe'en-themed blog...


Be sure to click the banner above and head on over to Sir. Michael's new official homepage, where you can read his very own Hallowe'en memories of working on Ghostwatch...

Week In Words (30.Oct.08) 

If you want a really scary Halloween then buy, borrow or rent a DVD of ‘Ghostwatch’, a programme I appeared in 1992 and which caused such a panic at the BEEB it was never repeated. 

‘Ghostwatch’ was a television programme which visited a supposed haunted house in the forlorn hope of seeing a ghost. I played the host safely ensconced in a television studio and commenting on an outside broadcast from a council house with a sinister past where the other presenters got more than they bargained for.  

The other reporters were Craig Charles, Mike Smith and Sarah Greene, all playing themselves, and it was this ploy of employing presenters in a seemingly real life situation which persuaded some people that the show was real. It was a genuinely frightening and disturbing show brilliantly written by Stephen Volk, the man responsible for the ‘Afterlife’ TV series starring the wonderful Lesley Sharp.

They wouldn’t tell me how it ended so I sat in an empty TV studio while cameras went berserk around me as the evil spirit released in the house came seeking the people who had disturbed its resting place. All I could see was a pinprick of red light moving across the gantry and down the stairs towards me.

There were those watching who believed it to be a documentary and were genuinely frightened. Others saw it for what it was, a well produced and disturbing drama. It was watched by over 9 million people and the critics were kind. Then, tragically, a young person committed suicide and it was claimed he did so because the content of the programme disturbed his mind. Since that time the BBC avoided the controversy of a repeat, wrongly, I think, because with all the resultant publicity surrounding the programme there could be few who would make the mistake it a second time for a real event.

The DVD is released by the British Film Institute, that important guardian of our film and television heritage. The programme also provided me with an unlikely reward because I was put forward as a BAFTA nominee for Best Actor. When my thespian friends get on their high horse I sometimes have to remind them who they are speaking to.

So you can get a feel for just how good my performance was we have added a trailer and an interview with the creator Stephen Volk, taken from Channel Four's 100 scariest moments, to the site. Why not take a look, if you're brave enough.
 
SIR MICHAEL PARKINSON.
('Presenter', Ghostwatch)

The blog you’re about to watch is a unique, live investigation of the supernatural...

I once read the key to any great horror story is that it “stays with you in the daylight”. For myself, and I’m sure countless others, this maxim holds true for Ghostwatch. But with so many other similarly conceived works of the genre already in existence, it's worth noting that few examples have demonstrated such influence, such power, over their audience than the controversial, Screen One drama special.

By definition, Art is ineluctably dependant on the willingness of an audience to participate; as someone once said, “a painting has no music”. But assuming the key distinction between so-called ‘high’ and ‘low’ art is merely the breathing space, or perhaps freedom, to allow one’s imagination to fill in the gaps between fact and fiction, then Ghostwatch might very well be considered a masterpiece.

With its surrealist themes and divisive villain, the film hit most of the marks required to one day be hailed as a worthy Horror flick, but it was the active participation of its viewers (the true-life ‘massive séance’) which has led to the film’s unforeseeable and lasting influence. The fact that villainous spectre, Mr. Pipes, has somewhat entered into contemporary urban mythology helps bear this theory out. Despite being an albeit fictional entity, his shadowy presence continues to linger in the backs of fans’ minds, now almost two decades after he first burst onto our television screens.

Watching Ghostwatch was one of the many defining moments of my young life. I remember vividly and with some detail, sitting with my folks on the sofa (I was seven at the time), staring wide-eyed and enthralled as the unrelenting drama unfolded. Oddly enough, I also recall sleeping quite soundly that night; more in a state of awe than heart-stopping terror, really. ...It was around a week or two later when my mind began to embellish what I had seen to the point where it bore little resemblance to what actually went out. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t help but find increasing numbers of potential ‘Pipes-hiding-spaces’. Even though I’d known all along that the show was in fact a drama, it made no difference. It felt real to me simply because I wanted it to be.

The idea to develop a retrospective documentary based on Ghostwatch came about late last year, at a Cineformation lecture held at Bristol-based media workshop, The Watershed. Chairing the event was Eileen Elsey, and appearing alongside her, special-celebrity-guest-star, Stephen Volk. As the doors to the screening room finally opened, the good forty/fifty-strong crowd of Vans (Stephen Volk-fans) took to their seats. The evening began with Steve explaining how he first got into screenwriting, before going on to provide commentary for various clips of things he had been involved in over the years - The Deadness of Dad, Gothic & Afterlife to name but a few.

Half-way through the Afterlife promo reel, the projector image froze just like in Ghostwatch. From the back of my mind, I recalled something similar had happened during the filming of another BBC show entitled, Hearts of Gold. The story goes, when one of the studio lights unexpectedly blew out during filming, certain members of the justifiably startled audience were heard to suggest Ghostwatch spook, Mr. Pipes might be responsible.

“This could be my big moment”, I thought.

Glancing up at the flickering projection screen, I could see the image was still tantalisingly frozen. The alluring silence pervaded... Then, suddenly it happened:

“...It’s Pipes!” I bravely mumbled into the pitch-black hall.

For far too long a while, a truly agonising silence was my only response. That is until the guy sitting next to me suddenly perked up with: “Oh yeah, the poltergeist from, er...” ...He couldn’t remember. At what was essentially a Ghostwatch fan convention, he couldn’t remember. Ah, well. Cheers anyway, mate.

The evening finally over, I joined the queue of adoring Vans and eagerly awaited my turn to speak. Taking a deep breath, I stopped fumbling with the already-crumpled stack of paper in my hands and quickly handed Steve over my treatment for Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains. Much to my pleasant surprise, he seemed... well, pleasantly surprised. As a matter of fact, he seemed genuinely intrigued; even more so when I showed him my inexplicably stopped wristwatch - I swear to you, no word of a lie - the second hand dead on the hour, just as I later surmised, one of his Afterlife characters had ‘walked into the light’ on screen. His grin widened on seeing the ‘indisputable paranormal evidence’. Mine did too.

Just to set the record straight, Stephen Volk is very much on board the project - as is director Lesley Manning. I’ve also been fortunate enough to speak with several other members of the film’s principal cast & crew, and even some other well-known, celebrity fans (although it's still a little too early to name names, I can assure you the ever-growing list of prospective interviewees is looking pretty darn good, so far).

The YouTube page has been instrumental in our ongoing production meetings, so a big thank-you must go out to all of our subscribers - especially those of you who have left your own personal Ghostwatch stories. Lastly, apologies it’s taken so long for more videos/info to be posted, but rest assured, the moment we hear any definitive news, you will too.

Thanks again, have a Happy Hallowe’en... and try not to have sleepless nights.


RICHARD LAWDEN. (Creator, Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains)