|Like many amateur filmmakers much of the filming I do is
when I am on holiday with my family. Rather than make an endless stream of
holiday films I always try to produce something a little different from the
traditional holiday film or travelogue. My favourite genre is the documentary
and I am always looking for a theme or story to turn the footage that I have
shot on holiday into an interesting documentary.
I usually do a considerable amount of research before going away to look
for ideas and inspiration. Once I have a concept in my mind I always produce
a list of the things I need to film that I take with me to ensure I have
suitable footage of everything I need to make the film. There is nothing
worse when editing to find you are missing a vital shot to fit the story
|And so it was, when my wife and I decided to take a long weekend break
to Rome, that I began my research looking for a story to tell. It just so
happens at the time that I had just finished reading the novel Angels
& Demons by Dan Brown and was intrigued by the locations described
in the book. My research revealed a massive amount of material on the more
sinister side of Rome and to my surprise found that there was even an Angels
and Demons Tour. I now had the concept for my documentary and so armed
with my Canon XM2 we headed off to Rome.
The end result being an 11 minute documentary called Rome - City of
Angels and Demons and originally I had no intention of making what
would turn out to be the more successful documentary Rome - Blood,
Politics and Religion.
|Fast forward almost two years and I was struggling to find an idea for
our club documentary competition. In desperation I was looking back through
old footage and found the tape from Rome. Looking through the footage I realised
there was a great deal of footage that I was unable to use in, particularly
the Coliseum and Forum, as these locations were not relevant in Angels
and Demons. Back to Google to research Rome for a second time and
I eventually hit upon the idea of taking the audience on a journey through
the history of Rome using their architecture. Rome is an extraordinary and
unique city and its position as the world's bloodiest empire, a major political
force and the symbolic centre of the Catholic Church gave me my story and
so the concept for Rome - Blood, Politics and Religion was
born. With the footage already shot it was straight to the editing suite
... well the spare bedroom actually.
I always try to focus on the narration at an early stage and normally have
the script ready before I start editing. The story is key to a successful
documentary and I usually go through 4 or 5 drafts before I am satisfied
that I have it right. I do not consider myself very good at doing voice overs
and when I intend to enter a film into competitions outside the club I normally
get the assistance of my wife or on the occasion my very good friend Harry
Page, who does excellent voice overs. I let the narrator have a copy of the
script and give them an opportunity to make small changes to illuminate any
areas that may trip them up when recording the narration. Again, I record
the narration early in the process, which allows me to drop it onto the timeline
and cut the visuals to the narration so the pictures match what is being
|I also like to drop in a few photograph and illustrations when dealing
with historical subject to vary the visuals and create added interest.
The other thing I am passionate about when editing is the music and I am
always looking for something that will match the mood of the story and create
drama. I believe the music can make or break the film and I normally spend
hours try to find the right piece. I do use royalty free music but normally
struggle to find something that works or inspires me so I normally take full
advantage of the IAC's Copyright Scheme*.
After much searching I finally decided on some music from the
Gladiator soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard, which
has some very powerful and moody music
I entered Rome - Blood, Politics and Religion into a number
of competitions including the Sussex Film Festival, SERIAC Film Festival
and BIAFF* with reasonably success. I came across the American International
Film and Video Festival on the IAC Website and thought I would branch out
and have a crack at that competition.
I have to say I was extremely surprised but highly delighted to win 'Best
Documentary' and second overall in the competition and it just goes to show
that it is worth having a go.
Not bad for a film I never intended to make!
- Clive Hand