Guitars by Harry Lederman and Alan Tutt got a certificate of merit
in AIFVF 2009.
We are prepared to be honest with each other
Alan Tutt and I first met
when the Eastbourne and District Camcorder Club was founded in 1997 and have
been involved in many of the Club productions.
We are both film makers of "the old school" having gone through the stages
of 8mm and Super 8 cine film moving on to camcorders using 8mm and Hi-8 video
cassettes and, in the past few years, mini DV tapes. I had retired from my
career as a Deputy Collector with Customs and Excise and Alan,(on the left)
who is twelve years younger than me, retired much younger as a Fire Brigade
We first collaborated to make a film biography of my friend, Michael
Stringer, an artist and scenic film designer who had worked at Pinewood
Studios and for Walt Disney for many years culminating in an Oscar nomination
as Scenic Designer for the film Fiddler on the Roof. This film
was made specifically for Michael and his family but Alan and I found that
we worked so well together that we progressed to promotional films for a
number of local performers in the Eastbourne area which in turn moved us
in the direction of making documentary films.
In 2004 we got to know a local potter who specialised
in lustre ware, a rare but beautiful form of pottery. It seemed to be a good
subject for a documentary and the resulting film gained a number of awards
in the 2005 Sussex, SERIAC, BIAFF and Guernsey Lily Festivals. In 2006 we
received recognition for another documentary film Useful and Beautiful
about the making of pottery, which was an off-shoot of the original
lustre ware film.
In 2007 our film Sussex Trugs, which recorded the history of
trug making in Herstmonceux, won the Best Documentary award in the Sussex
Festival, the Best Photography award in the SERIAC Festival, Three Stars
award in BIAFF 2008 and was also awarded a Certificate of Merit in the
prestigious American Motion Picture Society festival. The pottery and trug
films were donated to the South East Film Archive of Brighton University.
Over these projects our positions in the team crystallised. I am the facilitator,
making contacts and organising shoots, and main cameraman. Alan is visualiser,
storyboarding in his head as we shoot, and senior editor, although our jobs
A birthday gift
|We first came across Alex Willis, a local guitar maker and repairer,
at a Craft Fair and I remembered him when we were looking for our next project.
A hand made guitar can take up to 250 hours to complete, so it is not surprising
that, between January and December 2008, we shot over twenty-two hours of
his work. The guitar was a labour of love for Alex, destined for his
father-in-law who lives in San Francisco, so the making was fitted in amongst
his regular repair and commissioned work. He intended to give it to him on
a visit to America for his father-in-law's birthday in August 2008.
The film was shot in Alex's cramped workshop, a shed measuring no more than
about 3 metres by 5 metres. There is a small skylight and window letting
in natural daylight but we started filming during the winter with the florescent
strip lights on. A white balance setting on "artificial light" seemed to
cope with the mixed lighting conditions very satisfactorily so we continued
on that setting with the artificial lights on even during the summer. We
both have Sony camcorders, Alan a PC9E and mine a PC110E which colour match
pretty well. We used tripods at all times. Most of the action was filmed
using two cameras, I concentrated on the mid and close-up shots and Alan
the wider shots. Head and shoulder close-ups were taken frequently to act
as "cut-ins" to progress the making process. Live sound was captured via
our on board mics, (I can hear the groans), but in our defence we were filming
very close to the action. The voice over was recorded on camera using a separate
||Alex explained and ran through each process before shooting to allow
us to determine camera angles and shot movements. The processes were usually
"one-off" so it is essential that no mistakes were made as they unfolded.
Occasionally it was necessary to use a guitar "double" but hopefully you
will not have noticed.
Guitar making is linear which meant that we were able to edit each section
as it was completed. We use Ulead Media Studio Pro to edit. A lite version
came with Alan's first capture card and now, through updated versions, it
is a programme that we know very well and can use with confidence. We knew
that the finished film needed to be about 20 minutes if it was to sustain
audience interest, but, with so much film, deciding what to include or leave
out was, as usual, a nightmare. But we had plenty of time!
We had decided to end our film with Alex handing the guitar to his father-in-law
in California on his birthday in August allowing us plenty of time to have
it ready for the SERIAC competition, the closing date having been brought
forward to December. Unfortunately father-in-law fell ill and the presentation
had to wait until Alex and his wife, Nancy, visited for Thanksgiving in November.
We had to sit it out, with deadlines looming, and await their return.
Alex filmed the handover on his mobile so we
felt it was only suitable for the end credits but we were able to complete
and enter the SERIAC competition. Sadly the film failed to get through the
preliminary judging. Although we liked our film we were quite philosophical
about that decision having had a good run in the previous three years'
We had had to enter the film for BIAFF 2009, before receiving the SERIAC
pre judges' comments so were not able to able to take them onboard and alter
it. It was, therefore, with great surprise and pleasure that we heard that
the film had been awarded Five Stars in the BIAFF together with the added
bonus of the Boosey and Hawkes Music Prize. It confirms the often expressed
view that judging is very subjective and one judge's prize winner is another's
We believe we work so well together because we are always prepared to be
honest with each other and are not afraid to say if there is something that
one of us might not like. We now look forward to our next film that might
be following a local theatre group preparing for their next project which,
rather appropriately, is going to be the stage musical, The Producers.
- Harry Lederman
This article first appeared on the IAC website
and is reproduced by kind permission.