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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 26 - Winter 1975
On Location - Part 2 - Our Film Correspondent
Part 1 appeared in Spring 1975 Quainton News
Resume: In February 1976 Mike and Chris Hanscomb were making a film about mechanical signalling. It was all very professional! St Pancras was the location. Roger Hedley was booking clerk and Jackie Granger was the prospective passenger. Lance Hale had rushed away to collect Mick Lilley and Jim Martin from Euston and Carol Edwards was poised with her cue board. Now read on .....
Lance returned with Mick and Jim, Jackie retrieved her case from the errant car and shooting was resumed. By 10.15 we had finished in the Booking Hall with the last shot there of the clock minute hand moving to 10.05 and the lamps, tools and bags of oddments were hastily taken to platform 5 to be set up ready for the shots at the barrier. "See if you can find a willing taxi for the next shot"' and Anthea Hanscomb suddenly found herself in the role of director's assistant.
There were four taxis outside the main exit and she went to the front one and tapped on the window. The driver lowered it and looked at her. "Would you be so kind as to help us with a film we are making?" she asked him and explained what he had to do.
"Yes, why not - hop in". So in she hopped and they went round to the Booking Hall.
He was most helpful and drove in and out several times while dummy runs were done and then the shooting. Meanwhile Liz and Mrs H had to stand in the way and stop cars and taxis at the first entrance so that they wouldn't spoil anything. Luckily for them the people they stopped were all friendly and didn't mind, but lesson 2 - black board and chalk for notices.
While they were busy outside the Booking Hall-Lance, Roger, Mick and Jim were stringing up all the cable from the Booking Hall across to platform 5; hence the need for ladders. They were able to tie the cable to high up brackets so none was on the ground as a potential hazard to the public. They had finished by the time the taxi driver was paid off. He only asked for £1 and said it had made a change from the normal run of things!
The next shot was of Jackie having her ticket clipped at the barrier; it was 10.55 we were ahead of schedule - marvellous! By now there were many more people about and it was realised that one cannot walk into the Supervisor's Office carrying a ladder. After all it isn't a normal everyday occurrence - unless you are in BR uniform! Furthermore the film crew were becoming conscious of the public who were watching what was going on. Of course there were the inevitable witty remarks such as, "Is this a blue film?" "Will it be like Clockwork Orange?" but many people were genuinely interested in the project. When the Ticket Inspector at the barrier was asked if he could possibly keep the gate shut for about two more minutes while Jackie was being filmed boarding the train and the Guard was giving the "Right away", the woman at the front of the queue asked would the film be on television! She became very interested in the idea of the film because her husband had been on the railways for 50 years and had just retired. Fortunately the passengers behind her became interested too so we had no complaints from them!
As soon as the work on platform 5 was complete the cable had to be taken down and the ladders put in the Supervisor's Office - no time to lash them to the roof rack. Mike rushed past, "Find out if we can leave the car by platform 5!" Lesson 3, the director needs a full time assistant when on location! I asked in the Supervisor's Office and Mrs H contacted the police who were very friendly and had been watching our antics in the Booking Hall, particularly the shot when Chris had to perch at the top of the steps to get the pictures of the big clock. It was explained to the officer that as the boot would be full of lighting equipment we would prefer to leave the car by platform 5 so that it wouldn't be broken into. "You're taking a lot for granted" he said and grinned.
"It's borrowed equipment, we can't afford to have it pinched!"
It was 11.55 as the lights and last lengths of cable were stowed away and the car locked up. The ladders were in the Supervisor's Office and we were all aboard the train, panting a bit but glad that the first part had gone without a hitch.
Mike and Chris were rehearsing with Jackie the bit where she finds a seat in the train and Lance was trying out the battery operated spot light. Luckily we were able to have half a coach to ourselves which made filming much easier because we could spread out. The reservation notices on the windows said FARRAN PRODUCTIONS and several people stopped and read them carefully!
Fifteen minutes before we were due in Leicester Mike went to see the Guard to find out where in the platform he reckoned the train would stop. We had been told the rear coach would be by the stairs which would be perfect. There would be time for only one shot, Chris couldn't have a second try. Liz and Lance had to leave the train immediately after Chris and dash out of sight up the stairs. They were the people meeting Jackie at Leicester. Chris had to take up his position and film Jackie getting out of the train and walking towards the stairs as Liz and Lance came down and into shot.
We gathered up our belongings and stood in descending order ready to get out of the train and hide. "Oh my God" said Lance " We've overshot by miles". "Quick Chris, away now" yelled Mike. We tumbled out and rushed behind a pile of crates. "Look where the sun is! "said Chris in agony "straight into the camera". Had we not overshot the footbridge would have blocked it off. Mike and Jackie were still on the train the Guard was in the doorway watching them. Chris ran up the platform and into some shade. Mike stuck his head out as Chris nodded that he was ready, it wouldn't be good but there was nothing else he could do. "Turn over .. . " said Mike for the last time that day as he pulled his head in - "ACTION" - Jackie opened the door, Liz and Lance walked into shot to meet her and together they turned away from the camera and went down the platform towards the stairs as the train pulled away. Chris let the camera run on for its full 20 seconds, a silhouette shot. 'Into the setting sun' Mike had put, jokingly, at the end of the story line script little thinking it would turn out that way.
We dragged our weary selves to the waiting room. The refreshment rooms were closed - "Gone for lunch I expect" said Jim. "They must be short of staff here". We could have done with a drink! We had some beer with us but that was for the journey back on the 2.51. We sat in the warm waiting room and chatted and relaxed after all the excitement. Carol told us someone had asked her if she was Susan Hampshire, and Liz said the attendant in the Ladies had said " You're making a film aren't you? - I thought I was right! "
It was thanks to the assistance from the Area Manager's office and the staff at St Pancras that everything had gone so smoothly. Everyone was very kind and helpful, we hadn't run into any vital snags and we had been very lucky with the weather. The next sequence has to be filmed from the air and when it is finished and put to bed we hope it will be shown at Quainton during a social evening. This will be some time in the distant future because there are many more sequences to shoot and a sound track to record. All this will take time and will unfortunately cost money.
When we reached St Pancras the car was still there just as we had left it and an amazed traveller was reading the notice Mike had stuck to the inside of the windscreen, which read:-
FARRAN PRODUCTIONS FILM UNIT
Continued Quainton News 31
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 04 November 2017