Filming at Highbury Hall Day One




Rowan walks through her scene as John and Callum adjust the cameras and lighting.

It was an early start at Highbury Hall as we constructed the beds and dressed them with the props and objects we had researched and purchased.

When the young people arrived we asked some questions that would enable them to focus on the film and the characters and real people that we were, in effect, remembering.  This was deliberately a spontaneous exercise and some of their responses were filmed to get them used to the process.  They were asked about the scenes and moments they had chosen to enact/depict, the role of nurses, what they remembered about Kitty's letters, how working with Big Brum had made them think or feel differently about World War One, the visit to Lodge Hill Cemetery and the visit to the archives. We didn't rehearse these moments, we didn't want the young people to think too much about how they would answer the questions, because they would revert back to a school environment trying to be correct and factual.

Film Maker John Bradburn films Rowan scrubbing the beds with Kate operating the boom pole

We began confirming the roles of the young people, many were keen to act in the scenes, but others such as Callum and Josh were very keen on photography and filming, so John organised some training with his cameras and lights whilst the other young people began to rehearse their scenes under Richard’s direction.

We had decided upon five key scenes, one with Rowan scrubbing bed sheets to try and remove the blood from the wounded soldiers, the second with Siobhan as the Sister visiting a patient with shell shock, the third with Josh portraying a wounded soldier who constantly rips up letters he tries to write to his family and the fourth with Jean, Leah & Sylvie as a Mother and her young daughters visiting their Father, who had suffered disfigurement from shrapnel.

The final scene would be Kate playing ‘Stille Nacht’ on her cello, as a reference back to the variety of musical and arts events that were staged at Highbury to offer the wounded some distraction from their injuries, and to remember a Christmas Carol that was sung by both British and German soldiers.

Matt Hinks