On Sunday 7th, Bob and I travelled into London to record our 55th interview as a project!
We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to film with Louise Gold. We spent just over two hours with her, and asked her about her time working at ATV Studios in Borehamwood when she worked on The Muppet Show. Louise told us about Jim Henson and how he encouraged his whole crew to do well, and getting to sing with Jerry Nelson, as well as when she met Danny Kaye.
After The Muppet Show ended, Louise continued with the production team across the road to EMI Elstree Studios, where they made The Great Muppet Caper and The Dark Crystal back-to-back.
Tomorrow morning Bob Redman, Howard Berry and University of Hertfordshire student George Nicholls are attending a meeting of the BECTU History Project. BECTU (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union) runs the largest oral history project in the world related to film and television production and post-production, with over 650 interviews recorded since the History Project began.
The trio will be talking about the recent interview recordings conducted by The Elstree Project, including our trip to California in December last year, the ongoing centenary celebrations, and the forthcoming documentary. They also hope to share information about the way in which the interviews are conducted and the recent collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute.
After the meeting, Howard and George are to visit the BFI to meet and film an interview with Senior Curator of Silent Film, Bryony Dixon. Bryony has researched the Neptune Film company, which opened the first studio in Borehamwood in 1914....
Yesterday we visited Elstree Studios to record an interview with actor Simon Pegg - star of the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises.
We had a great time talking about the filming of The World's End - the final film in the unofficial "Cornetto trilogy" - which was made locally in Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, and used Elstree Studios for the studio based filming. Three pub interiors were recreated on the stages at Elstree, including the titular pub at the climax of the film.
Simon also worked on a new film, still yet to be released, called Man Up at the studios. A recurring theme for Simon appears to be the filming of scenes set in toilets at Elstree - he's filmed three so far! We joked that he should convince JJ Abrams to film a Death Star toilet scene at Elstree with Simon as the Stormtrooper attendant - after all, it wouldn't be a "true" Star Wars film if it didn't have at least...
On April 17th, The Elstree Project team, including Paul Welsh MBE and Bob Redman from Elstree Screen Heritage, and Howard Berry, Kim Akass and three students from the BA (Hons) Film and Television programme in the School of Creative Arts, spent a day filming at both Elstree Studios and BBC Elstree Centre with actress Barbara Windsor MBE.
The morning was spent recording links and voice-over narration for a new documentary, commissioned by the BFI, for the centenary of filmmaking in Borehamwood this year. The documentary, titled From Borehamwood to Hollywood, has been written and directed by Howard Berry, Senior Lecturer in Post-Production, and features exclusive interviews with Sir Roger Moore, Walter Murch, Steven Spielberg, Christiane Kubrick, Brian Blessed and a large number of crew members from productions in the studios of Elstree and Borehamwood. The School of Creative Arts research department and Media Research Group have been supporting the production of the film, in partnership with Elstree Screen Heritage.
We're progressing well with the centenary celebratory documentary, From Borehamwood to Hollywood.
Last week we confirmed an interview with the Senior Curator of Silent Film at the BFI and also the possibility of including clips from some very early silent films from Neptune Studios.
We have contacted several cast and crew members from productions made at the studios of Elstree and Borehamwood, with a request for them to participate in the documentary and also be part of The Elstree Project and give us an interview.
The film also now has a page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), with potential cast and crew information. To find out more visit the page we have created for the film, here....
Yep, you read that correctly! We are into production on a very special documentary - celebrating the centenary of filmmaking in Elstree and Borehamwood. The film will be called From Borehamwood to Hollywood: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Elstree.
We are aiming for a 90-minute film, which will tell the story from the opening of the first studio in 1914 to the present day. Content will include interviews filmed for The Elstree Project, but we will also be specially filming additional material exclusively for this documentary.
We are also planning to have a very special person provide the narration for us. So watch this space for news and updates, and we are going to dedicate the middle blog section on the front page to news about the film and its progress.
Our release date is September 2014, so we have a lot to do!
Here's a nice mid-week treat for you all - a five minute excerpt from our interview with Walter Murch.
Walter directed Return to Oz for Disney at Elstree Studios in the early 1980s. Michael Sundin, who was the World Trampolining Champion at the time, was cast to perform as Tik-Tok - actually physically operating the robot character from inside. In this clip, Walter recalls quite what Michael had to go through in order to be able to perform as Tik-Tok, including standing with his head pointing between his legs, his arms back to front and walking while watching himself on a TV monitor!
During the filming, the BBC's flagship children's show Blue Peter visited the set and filmed a profile about Michael. This subsequently led to him becoming the 14th Blue Peter presenter. Michael sadly died in 1989.
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....
It's 15:30 at San Francisco airport and we are just having a last team meal before our flight.
This morning, we had the honour of being guests in the home of Walter Murch - the Oscar winning editor of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Trilogy and The English Patient.
Walter spoke to us for over an hour about his time directing Return to Oz at Elstree Studios and we had a wonderful time. Afterwards Walter and his lovely wife showed us a short film of the "Droid Olympics" featuring a young George Lucas and a young Brad Bird!
So we leave California with a lot of happy memories and a lot of success. To have recorded interviews with Steven Spielberg, Joe Turkel and Walter Murch in one trip has been such a privilege and an honour and we owe so many people a lot of thanks:
Firstly, we clearly owe each...
This morning we all traveled to Santa Monica to the restaurant Jack's on Montana. They were the very generous hosts of our next interview - actor Joe Turkel.
Joe played Lloyd the barman in The Shining, and has the honour of being only one of two people to have appeared in three films directed by Stanley Kubrick. Joe was wonderful - full of wit, good humour and wonderful and interesting stories about working with Stanley, Jack Nicholson and the British crews at Elstree. He clearly continues to think of Stanley fondly and we all felt so sad when he told us that he never saw him again after the end of the film.
Joe was very generous with his time and so enthusiastic, and it really rubbed off on all the team. We all felt as if we had been a part of something special and unique this morning.
We really wanted to make the most of our last day in...