Saturday, 22 December 2007

film clips and shopping carts

Phil is a very good friend of mine and he knows a thing or two about things. He helped us put a video wall together for our website. A 'video wall' indeed! sounds interesting does it not? Don't worry its nothing like an art installation or a colossal wall of sound. Its just a variety of short clips from the Lost World of Mr Hardy. It is worth checking out and it can be accessed from the home page of the website -

And there's more. Sometime later today the shopping cart for our website should be online meaning the DVD can now be purchased with credit cards (no Switch or Maestro for another two weeks I'm afraid).

So basically everything is up and running just in time to miss the Christmas rush and when everyone has much more urgent things on their mind anyway. Och well I'm sure the DVD makes the ideal New Year's gift!

and finally...

Well yesterday really was a momentous day. It was freezing fog and the lorry driver managed to get lost but we did eventually guide him in throuh the mists of the Pevensey Levels by phone - although you can't really describe landmarks because he can't see any. So this big truck backs up outside the cottage and then, "where do you want 'em guv?" The driver opens up the tailgate to reveal a huge pallet of stacked and wrapped DVDs. It might sound daft but we hadn't realised how much space a few thousand DVDs take up. The pallet was broken down and its contents distributed amongst 'safe houses' well err various neighbours spare bedrooms. When they said the UK film industry is a cottage industry they were right.

Finally everything stored we can break open a box and see one of our cellophane wrapped DVDs. Goodness it even plays perfectly and you know even after watching it hundreds of times I still find it a lovely and very personal film. Naturally that is what you would expect me to say but it really was a wonderful moment to see the reality of what we have captured immortalised on DVD so that hopefully many others can share the same passion.

With the DVDs now arrived it was a bit of a scramble to post all the orders out before the last Christmas post. Hopefully some people have their copies already. We would really love to hear any feedback on the film so please do let us know, either here or using the feedback button on the website.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


People might be wondering where we are at with our little project. Not many posts from me for a while and no DVD yet!

As per usual our little cottage industry here on the South Downs has been swamped with finishing the film but with this now done our attention is now aimed at the DVD release. Meanwhile the film has been translated into subtitles in 5 languages; Japanese, French, German, Danish and English Hard of Hearing which took a little while.

Everything to do with the film has now been delivered to the DVD authors. The DVD cover will be finished mid week (and very nice it is too) and then well one big 'huzzah' and we can deliver the master to the DVD pressing plant at the end of this week and finally run off the DVD copies. The film will be available in both PAL (Europe) and NTSC (North America and Japan).

We cannot give a delivery date until the pressing plant has all the materials and is happy but will know by next week and will be able to take advance orders for the film. Hopefully these will be delivered to you 7 - 10 days after this.

I can't really say we are fans of our 'everything wrapped in cellophane' culture but when we have a stack of boxes full of our own DVD all sealed in cellophane I know I will see cellophane in a different light.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

How do you like your eggs?

What might raise an eyebrow in the film's audience is not necessarily what we first thought. Our film has some pretty tough revelations about Hardy's. Many are hard to take but they do come from Jim Hardy himself and the enthusiasts are probably big enough for that.

Our film however does feature quite a lot of bamboo rod building, not all of this is by Hardy's. Much is by independent rod maker Edward Barder. Now then, driving moisture out of the bamboo is an important early stage of the rod building process. At Hardy's they have always done this by roasting their bamboo in ovens. Right back in the early days their shop in Fenkle Street in Alnwick was located next door to a bakers so that they could borrow their oven for that job.

Edward Barder tackles the moisture issue differently. He shuttles and spins his raw bamboo sections over an open gas flame. He does it like this so that he can see what is happening to the warming bamboo as well as hear it. As the moisture starts to mobilise and increase in temperature it hisses and steams. Edward compares the process to cooking an egg. You can do it with the shell on but then you can't see what is happening inside. I thought that seemed quite reasonable.

At Hardy's however the most important thing about this process was that it should allow moisture to be driven out at a consistent controlled rate. Baking or roasting the bamboo poles in an oven was the only way to do this. Sounds reasonable too.

To my surprise the contrary opinions raise a hackle or two. Which side of the fence your opinion falls on could count for a lot and we wouldn't want to alienate any potential viewers.

Personally though, I'm quite partial to a two egg omelette. A three egg omelette is such another beast and should be run out of town. And you know at the end of the day, "eggs is eggs".

Friday, 30 November 2007

First feedback

The film is finished now and we have shown it to on or two of the contributors for their opinion. Jim Hardy liked it very much and was very congratulatory, especially at the way we weave in so much archive Hardy's film footage from over the years to tell such an involving story.

Meanwhile we continue the process of turning the film into a DVD...

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Jackie's jacket

One of the things I most like about our film is the way it connects ordinary people to a very rich past through the stories of their own everyday lives. It was always intended to do this to tell the story of Hardy's as a company but to achieve this for individuals too is a great bonus.

We have some great characters but also the help of some remarkable archive film. Rod inspector George Trannent tells several warm and amusing anecdotes in the film and once we have established who he is we are able to subtly show him busy at work. To see him as a 35 years younger man inspecting Hardy Smuggler rods is a real joy. Similarly with Jackie Dotchin. Jackie finished up as a reel inspector at Hardy's and with an MBE for his services. He too is seen doing his job 40 years earlier. Jackie Dotchin, what a lovely man, in his eighties and still with piercing blue eyes and an infectious laugh.

In the film Jackie tells us how he was 14 when he began work at Hardy's. He show a picture of his 1st works outing to Glasgow. It's Alnwick railway station, the yard is full of hundreds of woman but for one small chap on the left. Says Jackie, "that's me at the end there with the little blue coat on". The picture of course is black and white and is nearly 70 years old but for Jackie his coat will always be in colour.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

music please maestro

A day spent with Stephen the composer. It is so great to hear how with his music he can really bring people's anecdotes to life, whether their fond memories of the Hardy's shop at 61 Pall Mall or the antics of a dog devouring a favourite fishing rod. Best of all is his improvised musical accompaniment to the 1935 film of LR Hardy's fishing trip to the thunderous River Aaro in Norway.
This is a silent film more true to the tradition of the 1920s with its stark captioned titles, but featuring the huge power of an unbelievable and dangerous river where our heroes struggle against the best of nature's elements as well as monstrous fish. The wonderful thing about Stephen's music is how strongly it amplifies this world. Because it is a silent film music becomes so powerful, so important and only makes the original silent film even stronger. I really hope we get the chance to show the film in some cinemas at film festivals because I really think there is something quite unique here and I think seeing this on a big screen would bring a warm smile to many a face.

Monday, 15 October 2007

the final edit

Monday morning, 3am and we finally finish editing the film. Big huzzahs. Funnily enough it is also an admission of defeat although I actually mean that in quite a positive sense. Over the last couple of weeks we have been trying to squeeze into the film something of the essence of all this new archive material we discovered. The thing is our film was actually working really well already, it has many great and wonderful characters who with genuine warmth and openness tell us all about how they have dedicated their lives to their passion for fishing tackle. We have managed to capture something of their personality and of that magic - however as we tried to introduce more archive material it began to lessen people's individual stories. It took a little while to realise this but now we have settled on our final edit. It does still have some truly great new archive material in it though, unbelievable footage of LR Hardy carrying salmon home bigger than the throngs of boys running along behind him or of his ghillies struggling to stuff his salmon into numerous sacks after a rewarding day on the Eden.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Don't shoot the chauffuer

When we started researching "The Lost World of Mr Hardy" various people told us about these great old Hardy films from the 30s. Story was of how Hardy's boss 'L.R.' commandeered his chauffeur to help shoot the movies. L.R. was the star and his driver the cameraman. The story goes that the chauffeur couldn't operate the camera properly so everything is all a bit jerky and speeded up. During our edit we had a rough copy of the archive films and this seemed to the case.

However as soon as we got into our telecine suite to transfer the films to digital format, Gerry the telecineist soon sank that theory. There was nothing wrong with the films, just that they had been projected at the wrong speed for the last 50 or so years. Thinking about it, it kind of makes sense. Hardy's used to take their angling films around the country to game fairs and angling clubs. They would show the more modern 'talkies' like "To cane a trout" and "Angler's Catch" which were sound films as well as the pre-war black and white silent films. Thing is the talkies were shot at a different speed than the older films. 24 frames per second as opposed to 18. But when they projected the films together at events they would always be shown at one speed, the sound speed of 24fps otherwise they would sound odd.

Shooting the old films at the slower speed was a hangover from silent cinema days. Filmmakers at the time probably saw no reason to change from the 18fps they were used to filming at, especially as they were still making films without sound. It was only years later when the two formats were shown together that it mattered. Projecting them at a faster speed made them appear speeded up and jerky. However as Gerry the telecineist showed me, when played at the correct speed they are perfectly normal. They look great too. You will not believe the size of some of the salmon L.R. Hardy pulls out of the river Eden.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The 1st colour fishing film ever?

Our contact in Soho filmland manages to blag me some time on a bells and whistles telecine machine. Finally I can view the rest of the old film cans so we can work out what to actually transfer to video. The telecine operator sticks the films up on his machine, the 1st is an old film from ATV made in the 70s about salmon fishing on the Tweed. 70s colour was pretty rubbish and this film bears perfect testament to that. It is totally red and I mean 100%. No hint of another colour. But to my amazement Gerry, the man in the big chair swirls a few dials and switches and amazingly full colour bleeds its way back into this tired old film. Quite amazing.

Next up on the telecine bench is a very old Hardy's film I have never heard of but its from 1937. It starts black and white and it's LR Hardy salmon fishing on the River Eden in Cumbria. Suddenly it cuts to colour, all blues and browns and the camera tilts up from the river and up a huge viaduct. It must be the Carlisle -Settle railway. And gadzooks! A dirty old green steam train puffs on by over the viaduct up above. Amazing. Apparently colour came in in 1936 but Kodak could not find a way to make it stable until mid 1937 so this is quite possibly the oldest colour film of fishing in existence.

A shot or two of this will no doubt find it's way into the Lost World of Mr Hardy.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Are salmon that silver?

Huzzah! I manage to get onto a film viewing machine in London at a film laboratory. I'm surrounded by my pile of archive film cans eager to see what's in the tins. The trusty ol' Vidette machine however has other ideas and refuses to play in forward motion. Okay, so I'll have to view them backwards. Fair enough. Ah! Because 16mm film only has sprocket holes on one side it also means that when I rethread the machine to play in reverse I also have to watch the films upside down. And err because it is playing backwards the rack line is wrong which means you see the top half of the film frame at the bottom of the picture and the spillover comes back in at the top. So, it's a film played backwards, upside down and with half the picture spilling out of the frame. Not ideal viewing conditions. Still, these machines seem like gold dust so musn't grumble and just get on with it.

Ahhh, the first of the old colour films. It's 1937 probably, salmon fishing on the River Tay it's early Spring with the snow still on the hills. LR Hardy walks proudly into shot in quite amazing technicolor brown tweed 'plus fours'. I've never seen actual 'plus fours' in colour before. The past really does come so much closer. It's alive.He hooks, lands and gaffs a salmon, so silver and blimey there's blood all over the place. Interesting how much more real colour feels. And then the Vidette breaks, the lamp switch apparently. The switch is the size of a door handle, nothing subtle here and nothing easy to fix either. Mind you the machine probably is about 50 years old too. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Unable to open the treasure chest

I've been carting a huge stack of rusty, dusty old film cans around South East England most of week. That 70 year old dust really makes you sneeze. Problem is we can't find anywhere to look at the films and see what is in the tin.

When I trained as an assistant film editor 15 years ago, 16mm film editing and viewing machines were ten a penny. Every other door in Soho had at least one behind it. They seem however to have gone the way of the Yangzte dolphin and very quickly. Within a 100 mile striking distance of home I can only find two and no 16mm editing machines. So we have this big pile of film (and a couple of dolphins in the bath) and the frustration of knowing that the film can may contain something great but we can't view them. The films can not be put on a projector as it puts too much stress on the very old filmstock and would damage these the only copies.

We know that 2 of the films are pre-war and colour and there are not many of those around.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Buried Treasure

Reaction to the film so far has been great. This is the basic, unpolished version of the film I am talking about. We wanted a few okays before 'locking off' the edit and then going on to do all the nice stuff, the sprucing up of the visuals, adding an atmospheric soundtrack and music.

The only problem? - we also wanted to pick up the original Hardy film material. This is from the 1920s onwards and needs a little restoration so we can make it look really great in our film. Hey presto, a big pile of rusty, dusty old film tins arrive. The labels however bear little relationship to what we were expecting. A potential disaster. With these old 16mm film you can't just have a quick look to see what's in the tin, you need some kind of viewer which won't damage the old fragile material. I had a bit of a sleepless night that night thinking the original films we were hoping for must have been lost forever and so also leaving one very big hole in our own film.

Next day we head up to Alnwick and show our film at Hardy's. It gets a really great reception. However suddenly another large box of rusty, dusty old film cans turns up there. Nobody knows where they have been hiding but it turns out that these are the films we were originally expecting. Fine and great, our worries are over. However - what was in the earlier batch of film cans! We don't know. 16mm film is increasingly hard to view these days so I have booked a suite in London tomorrow to go and check them out. However it does look like they contain some pre-war colour film, probably salmon fishing on the river Tay as well as footage from inside Hardy Brother's Bondgate premises in the late 40's. Both are fantastically useful for us and our film. Only thing is we thought we were finished our edit. Hmmm, time to think again.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Heading North

Yesterday witnessed a manic struggle to finish the edit of the film before heading up North for some feedback. We want to take the camera too, just to get the odd extra little shot in as we will be up at Hardyland in Alnwick. We haven't even got Alnwick Castle in the film yet so we must make amends - if the castle was good enough for Harry Potter then surely we need it in our film too.

Eek, the camera and production insurance needs renewing - that means we started filming one year ago to the day. A nice symmetry as we head off to get some feedback on the virtually finished film.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Wondering if the film will be finished by August

A recent post was about how I thought it takes 3 edits to get a film right. I must have written that as a mental message to myself, a vain hope that theory is the same thing as reality. We are starting that 3rd edit now and it becomes so clear that the film we actually end up with could be one of many. We have the material to make "the rise, fall and rebirth of Hardy's", or we could instead make it a film on the desire to fish and go fishing with beautifully made equipment and about fishing tackle which means something and makes angling richer. Then again we could make a film about why people are prepared to devote their lives to making the very best fishing tackle. And then there's the story of how fishing has changed over 100 years and not just with tackle but through increased wealth, better access, pollution and globalisation - all of which change our fishing. The list could go on. It depends on which story we think we can tell best and so will make the best film. Discovering the best of the material, interviews and locations takes a little longer than we thought. 3 edits my foot!

Friday, 10 August 2007

1st music for the film

Stephen the music composer delivered his 1st sketches today and we lined them up against some visual sequences, one of Ken Middlemist, one of the last of the Hardy fly dressers at work and another, a very poetic piece on fly fishing on the River Test. Both were fantastic, music is so odd in it's powers of elevation. Suddenly the music emphasises the story and a trout in the crystal clear waters becomes a character all of its own as it evades the hapless fly fishermen.

Ever so slowly the film does comes together!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

3 edits make a film?

I hope and kind of believe that it takes about 3 cracks at editing a film to get it right. After that the law of diminishing returns tends to kick in, the film will get better but only incrementally so and often further edits just becomes different rather than an improvement. We have just about finished edit 2 and so I hope in a couple of weeks we will be there with the big number 3. Hmmm no doubt my theory is mere pants and soon I'll have to eat my words.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Edit one viewed

Hmmm, tricky thing film edits. We watched our first edit this morning. Our 1st edit has everything in our film which we think we need to tell our tale of the angler's love of beautiful fishing tackle. It explores this idea by telling the story of Hardy's, the effect of empire, war and new technology on this and the personal stories of many people who worked for Hardy's all their lives. And then we want to show modern makers of great tackle because aside from their own intrinsic interest they are the only real way to actually see craftsmen at work and they come across fantastically well.

And so that's were it gets tricky. It's just too much - we need to remember that less is more. So we plan to spend this week refining the edit, concentrating on the beauty of the film, the poetry, to still tell our full story but to realise where to concentrate the firepower. Oh it's not easy this editing lark. Hopefully the 2nd cut will be finished later this week - we've high hopes for it!

Friday, 27 July 2007

edit one

Finally, finally today we finished the 1st edit of the film. The 1st edit generally contains all the stuff you think absolutely essential for the film and is edited to what feels like the most natural structure and layout. Only problem was this 'essentials only' cut is already about 2 and a half hours long. An hour too long. Anyway it was with some excitement that we put the cut to bed ready to watch in full (for the 1st time) tomorrow morning with refreshed eyes.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

The trailer (nearly)

Medlar Press kindly offered us the chance to show a promo for the film at the CLA Game Fair at Harewood this year. A great opportunity, it just meant cutting together a trailer. Believe it or not editing a film trailer's takes ages, weeks. It's not just because every frame counts and you are trying to squeeze in as much as you can, rather that you are trying to create a real sense of the flow and feel of the film and it is quite a gentle film. The other dilemma is we didn't really want to use spoken words - it was going to run on a continuous loop on a stand in The House of Fishing and so it would instead use music.

We dropped everything to concentrate on the trailer for 5 days. As the trailer slowly came to life it's quite surprising how it evolved to create it's own sense of mini-magic. The combination of some great archive footage; casting competitions and salmon fishing from the 20's, craftsmen at work today and also showing their treasured photos of time at Hardy's as well as Jim Hardy recollecting on camera and you suddenly do get this alchemy, the feel of this quite wonderful and magical lost world. The fact that their are no spoken words seems to make it even more special - representing that lost world even better. We were happy.

Then we discovered the Game Fair had been cancelled, the weather! Oh man what a shame!

We hope to put the trailer on the website soon instead. It needs a little tweaking first though. The edit was meant for a biggish screen so it looks and feels very different when watched on a tiny internet video window on a computer. The images need simplifying a little, will see what we can do though.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

1st music moment

I picked up Stephen our music composer from the station yesterday. It was his 1st visit. The day the music man arrives is always magical. It means the film is moving on, taking shape and at a stage that other creatives are able to contribute their talents. Suddenly through them the film becomes so much better without me personally having to do much. That first time you hear music ideas sitting alongside scenes you have filmed and edited is pretty wonderful. I've worked with Stephen on a few films and so I know his music does the job beautifully, it adds it's own extra layers and enriches the film. Satisfying and an eye opener.

We have several landscape scenes in the film, e.g. dusk settling in on Alnmouth estuary, (home of the late J.J. Hardy) or graceful dry fly fishing on the Test in late afternoon sunshine, just add poignant well observed cello and piano and suddenly nice photography is transformed into beautiful, moving scenes. With Stephen's visit and viewing the film together the emotional potential of The Lost World of Mr Hardy leapt out. We saw for the first time our intention to make a connection with the past come true. What the film wants to do is engage and explore the craft and creativity of the craftsmen of the past - yesterday we realised it worked and it was very reassuring.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

No mayflies

Early June. Got back from Cannes, very tired, lots of bickering and dying to go fishing. Maybe those mythic Mayfly are still about sending the fish stupid.

Arrive at the water. Express my enthusiasm to the Bailiff. I think he mutters 'stupid boy' to himself as he walks away, a bit like Captain Mannering in Dad's Army.

Didn't see anything all evening. Do mayflies really exist?

Sunday, 27 May 2007


Making films with something to say has always been my aim but it's never been easy. I've spent the last 2 years writing Captain Kirk, a feature film about a young boy growing up in a small town in remote Scotland during the last days of punk rock and torn between his rebellious brother and an overbearing father. It's a great tale, gritty, full of brotherly love and hate and the passionate mistakes of youth. We took the film to Cannes film festival last May and ran ourselves into the ground with meetings to find financing. When a film is finished I'm sure Cannes Film Festival is a wonderful place but when your looking for money it really and honestly is not so much fun. Funny thing is money people make promises and I think they do mean well but the rosé seems to zap away a few of their memory synapses when you speak again in the UK.

However while sheltering from the sun in the British tent we hear a seminar on the big buzz coming from the states - D.I.Y. film distribution using the internet. Very interesting, and very empowering - away with the middlemen, the shopkeepers, if your film is good enough then sell it yourself. It makes sense as no-one one has quite the passion for a project than the actual filmmakers.

Great but not so much use when we first need to find a million quid to actually make Captain Kirk.

Heike "No but what about our other project - the Hardy's and fishing film?"

Andy "Err, yeah, are you thinking what I'm thinking..."

Yes we were. That was a year ago and now The Lost World of Mr Hardy is coming along nicely. We were able to go back to Cannes last week and pick up some great ideas about releasing our film on the internet.

Thursday, 17 May 2007


Growing up in Scotland I'd only heard of the mythical mayfly from the Trout and Salmon magazines. What was this beasty? A three tailed mammoth that sends trouts crazy but cruelly only inhabits the bottom few miles of the Kingdom. Maybe it's just a myth to taunt the chookters!

I'd waited about 20 years just to see my 1st Mayfly and now I'm a Southerner too so I now claim my rights under Mayfly regulations. I've still never seen or fished a proper Mayfly hatch so there's always a revival in excitement come late May a little akin to waiting for Santa Claus. My fave local water claims to have one of the best hatches of any still water. Thing is though, late May is really tricky in my calendar as film work always gets in the way and so I always miss the mythic beasties. I duly head down to the water too early in the season but full of expectation.

The odd mayfly drifts across the top but a cold easterly blows up to put everything down (just like all the years before). The bailiff grins a 'well what did you expect look'. No luck and I can't try again for another three weeks so the mayfly will foil me once more.

I see a badger on the way home though so that makes up for a lot.