Grandad’s Army

New Zealand, 2010. 4:57 min.

Team: Matthew Eady and Christopher de Graaf.

Summary

Grandad’s Army is the story of a retired war veteran (played by Nigel Ensor) who is convinced New Zealand will be the target of terrorist attacks during Rugby World Cup 2011. Concerned that our best troops have been sent to the Middle East, this is the story of Colonel William McGee’s efforts to protect his homeland,.. with the help of some colleagues.

Production

The bulk of our footage was shot in a three hour session. We already had some footage from two ‘practice runs’ during the weeks prior to filming. One on a sunny day and one on an overcast day. We kept the footage from both in case we could use them as cutaways for the final edit, depending on the weather for the final shoot day. After filming we had over thirty minutes of material available to use for our five minute movie.

It took a few days of editing (special thanks to Chris for giving up some of his mid-semester break for editing purposes) to arrive at the final product. The opening text was chosen for its military appearance as were the sound effects and additional footage.

As this was a news piece, music and sound effects were minimal, however some sounds were added to enhance certain scenes;

– gunshots and air raid siren during opening credits

– bird sounds ‘outside’ the RSA between the opening credits and the reporter’s first appearance. We did this to quickly highlight the contrast between the tension of the opening credits and footage, to ‘sleepy’ little New Zealand.

– seagulls and surf sounds outside the Esplanade restaurant to enhance it’s seaside location

These were all downloaded from the internet at www.ilovewavs.com.

The tune for the closing credits is the Washington Post March, downloaded from http://www.archive.org/details/WashingtonPostMarch.

Behind the scenes

Cutaways came in handy to cover camera movement, or poor footage. They were particularly helpful to cover up Nigel and Matt’s glances at their scripts (it should be noted here that Nigel did not see the script until he arrived for on site for filming, so we are/were extremely grateful for his skill and professionalism).

As the Colonel says in the movie, “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”. Seeing as Nigel is a professional actor (who kindly offered his services for free) we were wary of not wasting his time so we prepared as much as we could prior to shooting. This was extremely beneficial. We had a plan for sequence of shots, locations etc and managed to film in four different locations in three hours.

Conclusion

The idea for Grandad’s Army started when Matt heard a news bulletin while driving to University. It mentioned a security operation in Kabul for a meeting between high-ranking UN and Afghani officials. Within the bulletin, it mentioned that a ‘security blanket’ was being put in place over the city. This term struck Matt as odd and planted the seed of an idea; a senior officer in the military being interviewed in a Middle East type setting, during the ‘war on terror’, focusing on this ‘security blanket’.

We originally looked at making an Airplane type movie (the 1980 spoof-comedy), and literally looking at the idea of a huge blanket being lowered over Kabul by a large squadron of military helicopters. With a limited budget we realised it would have been difficult to successfully film this with an adequate degree of realism.

Chris wrote a script better-suited to our location/situation. It retained the ‘security blanket’ element but instead focused our story here in Dunedin rather than in the Middle East, and used characters and settings more readily available in Dunedin. Rather than an active high-ranking soldier, our main character would be a retired, slightly delusional war-veteran, convinced New Zealand is a target for a terrorist attack during Rugby World Cup 2011.

This project was great fun to take part in and we have a new found respect for movie makers, actors and production crew. And again, a big thank you to Nigel, who made our jobs a lot easier.

Thanks for watching.

Matt and Chris

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