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326. ‘War above the Trenches’ – the view from the ground


Theo has sent this dispatch from the trenches.

Historical Accuracy and Filming

‘When I agreed to make a camera for Stephens’s new film, I have to admit I knew nothing about the subject. So first and foremost came research. Yet again the internet came to the rescue with articles, and more importantly, pictures on the subject.

‘I quickly realised that the early cameras were made of wood and therefore would be easy to make a replica of. However there where hand held ones and aircraft mounted ones.

‘An email to Stephen to ask for the script of the action he wanted this camera for should resolve the issue of the type needed. He has based his script on the transcripts of actual flyers of WW1. So when I read the two scenes he wanted to make, I realised he had one scene based on the C-type camera, mounted on the plane and operated by the pilot. The other was hand held and operated by the observer. However this scene was crucial to make the effect he wanted. With the aircraft we were going to use being a BE2, it would be impossible to position the film camera to get a good shot of the observer using the replica camera. In fact I found out that they could only use the camera to any affect, during the war, by cutting a hole in the floor of the aircraft. Then siting through the hole and quickly moving the camera over the hole and taking the picture. An extremely difficult procedure in the confined space of a BE2 front cockpit.

‘I am not going to describe the scenes, as you can wait to see them in the finished film. However we decided to make the C-type aircraft mounted camera and alter its operation slightly to achieve the other scene. So please any of you who understands WW1 aerial photography please remember we are making a film with what is available to us in the present. This camera being mounted on the side of the pilot’s cockpit was very easy to film and get the required shots.

‘Making this camera was an interesting exercise, as I had no dimensions and scaled it off a photo and a measurement from the BE2 we were going to use. BE2c withC-type camera 1916 copy.jpgIMG_1018.JPG

‘ I also had to simplify the external fittings but decided that as the shoots would be quick this would not be noticed. Some brass fittings found by Chil came in very useful to create these fittings. Even so it all took a lot of head scratching and more time thinking about it than building it. The end product looked okay (see photos in previous blog) and Stephen and team were happy with it.

‘More about the actual filming to follow.’



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