What a year 2013 has been for the project. We have done so much, it’s easy for us to forget some of our achievements, so we thought the best way to remind ourselves would be in a neat and tidy blog post!
We started the year with hits already increasing rapidly on our short 17-minute film Staircases to Nowhere: Making Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. We’d screened it in October at our first film season, and it had become an unexpected hit for us.
In February, we visited the village of Letchmore Heath to make comparison shots between the scenes filmed for Village of the Damned in 1959. We also visited Edgwarebury Manor and filmed shots of the building as it has appeared in countless Elstree productions including Danger Man, Department S, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and A Clockwork Orange.
We released both short films in March, as part of our second Elstree Film Season. The season began with Village of the Damned, followed by The Devil Rides Out.
In the two week Easter break, we went to Wales to interview Doug Milsome about his work on The Shining – we were already planning to expand Staircases… When we got home we interviewed Brian Cook too.
We then closed the third film season with a double-bill of two cult 1960s TV shows: The Avengers and The Prisoner.
In May, we completed the new edit of Staircases… this time, featuring another five interviews including those with Doug and Brian. It’s now had over 250,000 hits online! Bloggers have said some rather nice things about the film:
- “the most in-depth film about The Shining…”
- “If you want to dig deeper in Kubrick’s masterpiece of horror, this is a pretty good way to go.”
- “…filled with tasty details and a lot of BTS info on this amazing motion picture.”
- “…if you’re a fan of Kubrick’s work, don’t miss this stuff!”
- “Don’t bother going into Room 237 – Here’s a real documentary on The Shining.”
- “…this is the story of the making of the movie from the people who were actually there making the movie, and I highly recommend it.”
- “The film is a treasure of impressively high calibre interviews with people closely associated with the film…”
- “…a fascinating collection of memories from one of the big cult movies of our time”
- “…a wonderfully informative short documentary account of the making of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining”
- ” …the definitive 55 minute retrospective on the making of a horror masterpiece”
- “It’s an informative, and fascinating look from the production side. After all, it’s movie magic. So glad that these stories were documented.”
- “If you found Rodney Ascher’s THE SHINING documentary ROOM 237 to be a bit far-fetched but are still intrigued by the story behind the making of that classic film, then do we have a treat for you!”
Also in May, Jan Harlan, producer of many Kubrick films, agreed to formally endorse the project. Warner Brothers also approved the film, making it the only modern documentary about The Shining to be approved and endorsed by both Warners and the Kubrick Estate.
We also filmed a short film with Paul Welsh – our regular interviewer for the project – at Elstree Studios, in order to create a DVD extra…
In June, Network Releasing published The Elstree Story on DVD and our film was included! We also met film director Mike Newell, and he agreed to formally endorse the project too. Rosy Moorhead wrote a lovely article about Staircases… for the Elstree and Borehamwood Times.
In July we had a real treat – we interviewed Brian Blessed. With the help of the staff at Elstree Studios, we were able to invite him to the preview theatre and record the interview there. Pixar director and long-time supporter Lee Unkrich wrote a letter of endorsement too – joining Jan and Mike in supporting us formally. The BFI claimed Staircases… was “like being on set with Stanley Kubrick” and the Academy Awards must have agreed as they retweeted it!
We also filmed a new interview with John Spooner at BBC Elstree Centre. He had worked there as a clapper loader when Douglas Fairbanks Jr ran the site!
At the end of August we re-visited the BBC Elstree Centre once more to film the buildings around the site – creating a permanent record of the exterior and layout of the site and stages. It’s important as that studio began as Fountain Studios in 1914!
In September we purchased an iPad to be part of the Elstree Screen Heritage wall in the new Elstree and Borehamwood Museum. Work started on preparing 25 interview clips to go onto the iPad for the public to pick from. The first academic paper to use the projects interviews was presented at the University of Reading.
In October we had our first accredited work experience students join us for a whole semester! At the end of the month we raised £6000 of funding to enable us to travel to California and interview some pretty big names… more on that later!
In November, we put up our display at the new museum. The wall looks great and instantly draws in people. We travelled to Southport to interview Kenneth Cope – he was brilliant and we really enjoyed his company. Howard gave a presentation about the project at Royal Holloway and Paul also received an honorary Master of Arts degree from the University. Our third Elstree Film Season was launched by Brian Blessed giving a Q&A at our screening of Flash Gordon!
In December we finished our third season with The Great Muppet Caper and a double-bill of supernatural shows UFO and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).
Finally we finished the year by travelling to Los Angeles and San Francisco, where we got to interview Steven Spielberg, Joe Turkel and Walter Murch. Incredible!!
Next year is the centenary of filmmaking in Elstree and Borehamwood and we have BIG plans! We hope you will be there with us to enjoy what we have in store…