The Making of Three Small Films

By Tim Drage

All three of these films were shot using my (now sadly deceased) JVC GR-S707 compact S-VHS video camera, and the editing, titles, effects and sounds were done using Avid Videoshop, on my Macintosh Performa 6400/180.
I am most pleased with all three films, on a number of levels. They are far shorter than most cinema releases, which means that they are easy and convenient to view in the safety of your own home. Also, like many low budget films, they have a vitality and humanity to them, thanks to their instantanous creation and visibly low production values. During the making of Skelington particularly, I really felt I was making a genuinely surrealist film, which pleased me immensly.


Flim was made in late 1997 one afternoon in the Animation studio. Tony and I were idly constructing bizzare creatures from the detritus of someone else's finished animation, and since I had my video camera there we made the film on the spur of the moment. It was given titles and credits by myself on January the 23rd 98 and shown at the Cans Film Festival to great critical acclaim.


This film was made during a brief respite in the shooting of Skelington, in the ground floor kitchen of my accomadation block. Initially we planned to actually toast the piece of paper which represents the toast, but we soon discovered that this was impossible, as we couldn't be bothered. Instead, a little of that good old cinema magic was used. The top of the range special effect which I devised for this shot consisted of scribbling on the piece of paper with a biro. A bit of cunning editing, and you'd never notice it wasn't a real piece of toast.

Over 5 gallons of margerine and 100,000,0 jars of peanut butter were used in the shooting of the spreading sequence, which took well over 5000 takes before reaching the level of perfection demanded by our angry Stanley Kubrickesque director.

The deeply atmospheric soundtrack was created thanks to the sound engineering wizardry of famous voiceover artist Chi 'Turning Japanese' Mason, who exerted his highly trained vocal talents to the utmost, uttering the word 'Toast'. This was them recorded at 11.025 kh, robotised, and slowed down to fit the 9.10 second length of the finished film.


Our Magnum Opus, this 39.03 second epic took over ten minutes to film, and features an all-star cast of whoever happened to be around at the time. The preproduction stage of the film, at around 10 pm on January the 23rd, involved Tony and I quickly tireing of watching TV in the student bar, and trying to persuade our friends to assist us in making some art. Having gathered the camera, two masks, a small soft toy rabbit, a traffic cone and a low quality print of an 18th century snow scene, we set off in the direction of the Blaenavon hall TV room. Here, after a short period of experimental/silly filming, we switched the lights on, and the first sequence of Skelington was shot.

Before we go any further, some words must be said about the remarkable prosthetic effects utilised in the film. These stunningly realistic masks were created by well known makeup artist Tim "Stupid Face" Drage. The terrified face of the Bloke was constructed by photocopying and cutting out a large closeup from Katsuhiro Otomo's fabulous Manga Domu: The Dreams of Children. The hideous visage of the Skelington was purchased at Kwik-Save.

The end of the film was filmed in the kitchen, and a variety of everyday household culinary appliences were utilised, to great effect.

Postproduction of Skelington began late at night, and continued into the small hours of the 24th. It was during this stage of the creation of the film that it really began to come together. What at first appeared to be a bit of a mess was soon improved through the judicious use of editing, speeding up and slowing down bits, and adding as many silly effects as possible. The finishing touch was the soundtrack, which was produced by sampling from audio cassette the entirity of Vic Reeves' song "I Remember Punk Rock" at 11.025 kh and speeding it up to 39.03 seconds. The manic sound thus produced was ideal for our purposes, and through the wonder of chance, fitted the action perfectly.

You cannot imagine how incredibly hilarious Tony and I found this film upon watching the finished version for the first time at about 4am that morning, but we hope that some of that hilarity will be carried through to you, the viewer. Back to the films