Posts Tagged ‘Lost Poets’


What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who block supermarket aisles by having conversations with long lost friends.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?



Radio Wildfire.


What a week with so many wonderful things going on.

Tuesday saw The FIZZ with our guest poet Barry Patterson. The evening started in the light and as the dusk descended, the people from Polesworth and beyond settled into a very special evening of poetry.

Barry Patterson - at THE FIZZ

Barry did two sets either side of the interval giving his wonderfully unique delivery of his poems and songs that took us into nature, out to India, the ring road in Coventry, to the poetry readings at the Tin Angel and into Pooley pit with a Geordie miner lad. He captured the spirit of these places and took us into looking at the world with fresh eyes, opening our minds to new ways of experiencing out environment.

Barry mixed in beats from his bhodran, building a tempo that entranced the audience into a calm vision of the natural world. Added to this were tunes from a bone flute that stirred the atmosphere to shift into a comfort that hung on his every word. It was a wonderful set from this much acclaimed poet and performer.

There were other noted performances from the floor, particularly of note:

Gina Coates, who read three poems including her Poets Trail poem, all showed a poet who has worked hard at her craft over the last twelve months and is now developing her own voice. The empathetic voice of a mother whose thoughts care about all that touch her. She finds her voice in the significance of choral performances at a memorial to soldiers, such that meaning and the reasons for the performance resonate through her poetry.

Janis Kind is another voice that has developed over the last year. Janis focuses on small events and their relationship to the larger world view as she observes birds in snapshots of time, showing that the whole view is not one significant event but a collection of much smaller events each with its own place and importance.

Alex Simpson gave us some of his wonderful prose, with memories of a car and all that he and his family did on their travels around the country and into Europe, he gave us all thoughts of sentimental attachments of objects that touch our lives.

All the performances on the night were special and I should mention Terri and Ray Jolland who brought humour to the night with “There’s a fault in my poem”. Margaret Torr who is the guest at the next Fizz gave us a taste of what we can expect from this accomplished writer, poet and storyteller. Ian Ward and Tom Wyre gave us their excellent poems and are two more poets who we will get as guests at the Fizz next year.

The evening was rounded off by Antony Owen, who was guest poet last year and continues to develop his canon of poetry of conflict that has seen his reputation grow as the 21st century’s great war poet.

I would like to thank Barry for his performance and for bringing a new calmness to Polesworth on the night that made for an atmosphere that allowed all the other poetry shine.

It was great to see so many new faces at the Fizz many of them coming along to listen, it is always fantastic to welcome listeners to poetry and to engage new audiences.

You can see Barry at Nightblue Fruit at Taylor John’s, the Canal Basin in Coventry on the first Tuesday of the month – the next being tomorrow.

The next Fizz is on 22nd May at Polesworth Abbey, Refectory when out guest will be Margaret Torr.

Wednesday and Thursday saw four new poems installed on to the Polesworth Poets Trail.

The poems were all developed from the experiences of the workshops that we held in Polesworth twelve months ago.

Barry Patterson’s poem Advice to a Geordie Miner Lad in Pooley is located near to the capped pit head and invokes the memories of the Miners from the North East coalfields who migrated down to the Warwickshire pits in the 1950’s and 60’s. Full of imagery and dialect that would have been so much part of the Pooley pit life in this period.

Advice to a Geordie Miner Lad at Pooley by Barry Patterson

Margaret Torr’s poem Pooley Pit Ponies is located close to the path into the nature reserve, close to an Oak sapling which in time will grow to protect and provide shade for this great poem. The poem reflects on the comradeships between the men and their ponies. The ponies are often forgotten when we consider mining, but not to the miners who relied on them to haul their stints along the tracks to be raised in the cages.

Pooley Pit Ponies by Margaret Torr

Gina Coates’ poem Living Echoes is located where the paths meet from the Car park down to the visitors centre. It reflects on times, ancient, past and present with its echoes of the carboniferous, the mining life and introduces the thoughts of Women as miners, to the present day as field of play and leisure.

Living Echoes by Gina Coates

The forth poem installed was by Bernadette O’Dwyer whose poem Jutt is a snapshot of the life of a stubborn pit pony who worked in Pooley mine. It captures the fond memories that the miners had for this character who would only haul a certain number of coal trucks. It was as if this pony held its own ideals on acceptable working practices and dug its feet in when these were exceeded. Bernadette’s poem is located near to the heritage centre opposite the pit wheel.

Jutt by Bernadette O'Dwyer

I am so proud of all the poets who are on the trail all of whom have found a connection with Polesworth and Pooley that I made when I started the project five years ago.

More poems will be installed in the coming weeks.

When people come together with a common goal wonderful things can happen. The “what seems impossible” is just by passed as their enthusiasm rubs off on other people and doors open. This is even better when a family comes together and makes wonderful events happen.

I am talking about the variety show that took place at the Progressive Club in Tamworth on Friday last, all to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

The show was the brain child of Emma Smith, who as a dancer produced the show and brought together dancers, singers, comic magicians drawing performances from her family and friends, with me as the family poet.

There was so much fun in the production that the enthusiasm of the cast flowed out to enchant the audience.

This element of fun and laughter kept the production on track through the long hours and stress in the run up to evening.

It was a great show with everyone playing their part to raise over £650 on the night which will be added to the growing fund as members of the family continue fund raising, the next event is the Brighton marathon, where members of the cast will be running in aid of this great cause.

All credit goes to Emma, Clair Crawford, Dee Smith, Ryan Smith, Chris Smith, Rachel Birks, Rachel Smith, Mick Smith, Krissy, Sarah and Kingsbury School of Dance, Little Ryan for compereing, Small and Fat DJ’s for the sound system and music. Not forgetting the other members of the family who sold tickets, programme and ran the raffle.

As for myself, I played a very small part, but realised that I had to change my style and delivery into a performance in keeping with the fun of the rest of the acts.

My final delight was to be considered as a Dad Dancer during the finale, hey I have made it up a rung of the dancing ladder who knows if I keep going like this I may end up on Strictly – though don’t hold your breath on this one.

We were so busy and wrapped up in the event we forgot to take photos, which is a pity.

There is now talk of doing it all again next year and I look forward to playing my part.

Radio Wildfire broadcast tonight – Dave Reeves emailed me with the programme which is as follows.

No fooling, we’ve a programme that’s jam packed with quality, originality, accessibility, variety, and a little solemnity in this month’s Radio Wildfire Live! @ www.radiowildfire.com

There’ll be the usual selection of tracks uploaded to our ‘Submit’ page by listeners, including new work from poets Mark Goodwin and Alison Boston, and a story from Keith Large, amongst others.

We’ll be featuring a tribute to the poet Geoff Stevens who passed away in February. Widely published across the world and much respected for his work publishing other poets in Purple Patch magazine, Geoff cut his own path through the literary world. Joined by his long-time collaborator Brendan Hawthorne, we’ll be talking about his literary life and playing tracks by Geoff himself.

We’ll also have the first in a series of exciting collaborations with the Bunbury Banter Theatre Company, a beautifully produced and at times disturbing drama At the Fourth Minute, written by Lee Ravitz.

There’ll be a selection of tracks from the excellent CD from Norman Cristofoli’s Labour of Love magazine and Coffee House performance series in Toronto, Like a Diamond in the Sky.

And there’ll be the latest in Mal Dewhirst’s series The Lost Poets, a look at forgotten and under appreciated writers from across the years and around the world that it’s Mal’s mission to draw your attention to.

The show, as always, is presented by Dave Reeves.

Radio Wildfire Live! is followed at 22:00 by the monthly diary from Birmingham’s poet laureate with Jan Watts’ Irons in the Fire and then Longden’s Listings with Gary Longden, the only complete spoken word events diary being transmitted. Listen in and catch your own events being discussed.

Join us: Monday 2nd April from 8.00 pm UK time at www.radiowildfire.com

Radio Wildfire: you’d be a fool to miss it.


You can still hear my lost poet piece on Banjo Patterson on the Radio Wildfire Loop.

Another will be broadcast tonight and I will write about another poet next week on this blog.


Readings in April.

3rd April – Night Bluefruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry.
17th April – Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
20th April – Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent.


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The aches have turned into a sniffle.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The potential of future projects


Bonn Ist Supreme – Robbie Basho


Last week saw me flitting about a bit, the main event of the week was Poetry Alight at the Spark Café in Lichfield and most of you will have seen on my extra blog last week with my review of this excellent event. For those who missed it you can see it here: https://pollysworda.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/it-takes-just-a-spark-to-set-poetry-alight/

Perhaps I should clarify my use of the word flitting as it sounds a little flippant. I am not referring to the meetings or events which were all purposeful and full of glorious value and potential. Flitting refers to the state of my unsettled mind and is an inner feeling that I may not outwardly express.

So having cleared that up, the Lichfield poetry event was not the only item in my busy diary as I had meetings to set up some workshops for The Wall project, these will take place later in the month, with the Tamworth Writers Group and three community cafes, exploring responses to the lyrics of Pink Floyd.

Thursday saw the fortnightly meeting of the Runaway Writers’ with some excellent pieces from the members including the latest from Margaret Torr’s children’s novel where the main character is James, whose adventures in his flying wheelchair are full of delight and enchantment with a cast of characters whose quest is enacted in a world of disrupted time. Margaret is a natural story teller who keeps me hooked – I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Friday saw me flit across to Stafford for a meeting to discuss the potential role of Staffordshire Poet Laureate which has been very well received and although it is not confirmed that this will happen. The County Council are keen to explore how this role can be shaped and how a framework to sustain it can be developed. Something I will be working on in the coming weeks and may well ask for further ideas from local poetry community.

Barry and Chloe Hunt create the right vibe.

On Saturday evening, I was delighted to catch up with one of the Poets Trail Poets, Barry Hunt, The singer /songwriter who was performing with his daughter Chloe at one of the local village pubs. They performed a great set with a mix of modern to traditional songs including their own material that provided something to induce the rock/folk/pop vibes of everyone. Barry is a master guitar player who eased his fingers around the frets to produce a warm vibrant sound to accompany Chloe as she gave us her special blend of confident vocals.

You can catch Barry and Chloe at the Yardbird in Birmingham on 18th March.

Yesterday saw me banish the sniffles to their nasal pit and head into historic workshop of the world, Birmingham to record two more Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire.

So staying with Radio Wildfire – on to this week and the upcoming events.

Radio Wildfire’s live broadcast is tonight at 8:00pm (GMT), which Dave Reeves informs me, includes a great line up of Spoken Word and Music.

Tonight’s broadcast

www.radiowildfire.com – Monday 5th March 8.00-10.00 pm (UK time) + Jan Watts’ Laureate’s Diary from 10.00pm + Gary Longden with Longden’s Listings.

March: in like a lamb but we’ve got a lion of a programme lined up in this month’s Radio Wildfire Live!

Listen in for a poem from Jenny Hope submitted to Radio Wildfire especially for Earth Hour 2012; a memoir from Jonathan Taylor extracted from the poignant story of his father’s struggle with Parkinson’s, Take Me Home published by Granta Books; a variety of production poetry variously using multilayered voices and backing drumming from Stephen Mead, Andrew Barnes, and Zeandrick Oliver & James G. Laws; and a short play from Keith Large called Where Does He Go On A Wednesday? – a mystery drama set around life in a timber company, it’s vibrant and engaging and most definitely not wooden: with all of the above having been uploaded to the Radio Wildfire Submit page.

There’ll also be songs featured from the new cd by David Francis, On A Shingle Near Yapton, a truly exceptional piece of work from the New York singer-songwriter and poet; the latest edition of Mal Dewhirst’s The Lost Poets; and, as if that wasn’t enough, in the studio we’ll have poet Roz Goddard talking about her role as coordinator of the West Midlands Readers’ Network.

Plus we’ll be announcing exciting news about another Radio Wildfire live Outside Broadcast that will celebrate 75 years of the Mass Observation Movement.

The show, as always, is presented by Dave Reeves.

Radio Wildfire Live! is followed at 22:00 by the monthly diary from Birmingham’s poet laureate with Jan Watts’ Irons in the Fire and then Longden’s Listings with Gary Longden, the only complete spoken word events diary being transmitted. Listen in and catch your own events being discussed.
Join us: Monday 5th March from 8.00 pm UK time at www.radiowildfire.com

Radio Wildfire: the purr of the big cat’s whisker.

Talking of Birmingham Poet Laureate, Tuesday 6th sees the Monthly Night Blue Fruit in Coventry with the wonderful Jan Watts as guest poet plus open mic. This event starts at 8:00pm at Taylor John’s House in the Canal Basin in Coventry.

On Wednesday I have a meeting with the local council to discuss creative people and places followed by the Mad Hatter’s Writers Group – then I have a free diary to do some writing, film editing and attend a rehearsal for the Leukaemia Research Fund raiser which is on March 30th. Busy,busy, busy – I love it.

My Lost Poet this week is Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694)

I first came across this Japanese Poet through the guitarist Robbie Basho who changed his name to Basho in honour of this master poet who developed the structures of Japanese poetry forms that gave us the Haiku, from the traditional forms of Tanka and the collaborative Haikia no renga.

Matsuo Basho was born Matsuo Kinsaku and was also known as Matsuo Chūemon Munafusa he is the most famous poet of the Edo Period of Japanese Literature and Culture. His father was a low ranking Samurai which would have seen Matsuo progress to a life in the military had he chosen a less notable path for his life.

However as child Basho became a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada, who shared Basho’s love of collaborative poetry known as Haikia no renga which saw a poem constructed starting with a Hokku in strict 5-7-5 mora format followed by a 7-7 mora verse from another poetic voice. Basho and Yoshitada developed their voice that saw the first of Basho’s poems published in 1662, they collaborated on several pieces including a one hundred verse Rengu in which they collaborated with several other voices.

It was Yoshitada’s sudden death in 1666 that saw Basho lose the comfort of the role as servant and to resign himself away from a samurai life to become a traveler, he is indecisive as to whether he should become a full time poet and continues to write and be published in anthologies. Renga and Haikia no renga are viewed as low status pastime rather than high artistic form and this may well have influenced his indecision. He does however produce a publication in 1672 entitled the Kai Ōi or the Seashell Game, where he compares the merits of poems produced by him and others.

It is at this time he heads for Edo and ingratiates himself within the fashionable Literary Circles, his poetry is recognized for its natural style and simple form and he is soon initiated into the inner circles that enables him to teach and he is soon the tutor of twenty pupils. Despite this new found appreciation, he feels the need to take himself out of the public eye for a more isolated life and following a series of events such as the death of his mother and his hut burning down his dissatisfaction grows and leads him to embark on the first of four major journeys, two of which I will discuss here..


Travelling throughout the country at this time was considered a dangerous affair and Basho’s initial anticipation was that he would be killed by bandits in some remote location. His mood changes as his journey progresses and he makes friends, his poetry takes in the world around him and reflects his observations rather than the introspective themes of his earlier poetry.

His journey takes him to places such as Mount Fuji and Kyoto where he meets other poets, who seek his advice. In the summer of 1685 he returns to Edo, much refreshed and happily resumes his teaching post. The poetry from his journey is published as Nozarashi kikō Account of Exposure to the fields. Despite his apparent new found contentment in Edo, Basho knows that this will only last through the thought of another journey which he privately plans.

The culmination of the planning leads to him setting out on a journey with his apprentice Kawai Sora in 1689 that saw them explore the Northern Provinces on an epic 2400 kilometer trip. Basho documents the journey in a log, creating poetry as he goes. This was published posthumously as Oku no Hosomichi
The Narrow Road to the Interior.

Basho returns to Edo in 1691 and suffering from illness in his later years, he spends his last days receiving visitors, he died peacefully in 1694 and although he never wrote an official deathbed poem, his last poem has been taken as being a fitting farewell to his life.

tabi ni yande / yume wa kareno wo / kake meguru
falling sick on a journey / my dream goes wandering / over a field of dried grass [1694]

Basho interests me on several levels. His development of the Haiku from the traditional forms not being the least. The Haiku becoming a standalone form of the original Hokku.

I can see the similarities between his life and that of Michael Drayton, both poets went into service of literary patron as children who nurtured their craft as poets. Both head to the cultural capital to enhance their study and careers, both write landscape explorations Basho as described above and Drayton PolyOlbion. The Polesworth Circle also wrote collaborative poems through letters, examples of poems written between John Donne and Sir Henry Goodere still exist for us to study.

Collaborative poetry has also been a feature of some of my work in the last year, with the Kite poem on the Poets trail using the words from the Primary School children and the Word poem developed as part of the Nuneaton Summer poetry day.

Links to further information on Matsuo Bashō

Classical Japanese Database – Has some of Bahso’s Haikus

Simply Haiku has an account of Basho’s last days


Readings in March.

March 5th – Radio Wildfire – Lost Poets. – Broadcast then on the Loop.
March 6th – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – Guest Poet Jan Watts.
March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The sound of TV Ads

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Some New Poems


Walkin Man – The best of Seasick Steve.


This last week has produced some new poems and seen the first recordings of my Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire and the continued work on editing Double Booked.

The poems are for a new production of Pink Floyd’s – The Wall which is being staged in Tamworth in June. The production is being developed as a collaboration of community groups and local theatre groups and will use the original material from Pink Floyd with additional material including some poetry from myself.

The poems are in the very early stages of development and I have put the first drafts out to some of my fellow poets for critique which has been fed back to me over the weekend and I will work upon further during the coming week.

Yesterday saw me battle through the snow to get to the old gun quarter of Birmingham, where Radio Wildfire have their studio. This was for the first recordings of my Lost Poets series that will be broadcast on this popular internet radio station over the coming months.

Birmingham's Gun Quarter

Owing to the snow I set out early and as luck would have it the roads were pretty clear with not much traffic and so I arrived early and was able to catch up with Gary Longden who was recording his Longden’s listings, the monthly list of poetry and spoken word gigs in the English Midlands. Birmingham Poet Laureate, Jan Watts was also there, recording her monthly laureate’s diary.

Radio Wildfire broadcasts live, once per month and then the broadcast is put onto a loop (normally two weeks after the live broadcast) making it available on line throughout the rest of the month.

The next live broadcast is tonight 6th Feb at 8:00 – 10:00pm (UK Time). Dave Reeves who is the mastermind behind Radio Wildfire is assisted by his son Vaughn who produces the show and manages all the recordings.

Radio Wildfire Production Team in Action

The show consists of a variety of poetry and music from all over the world, plus interviews with poets and writers that Dave conducts mainly in the studio although more and more he is getting out on the road, catching people at gigs and recording material for inclusion in the show.

My piece started with an interview with Dave where we discussed the progress on the poets trail, the Fizz and the idea behind the lost poets’ series that I started on this blog last year and to date have covered 28 poets. It was a much better, more relaxed interview than the last one I did with Dave a few years ago, before the first phase of the poets trail was completed. That had been live and I felt I stumbled over my words and did not put on a good show. I later realised that wearing headphones and hearing the interview in such an unfamiliar way, especially my own voice had been off putting which had only added to my nerves.

This time we were not live and I chose not to wear the headset and so it just became a natural conversation between Dave and myself – Of course I have not heard it back yet so I will be listening in tonight to see how I can improve.

Recording Lost Poets without the headphones

I went on to record two lost poets Michael Drayton and Banjo Patterson, one of which will be added to the post show broadcast and then the loop of tonight’s broadcast.

I will be returning to the studio next month to record some more and will continue to develop the series over the coming months.

I am also really pleased that the theme music to my Lost Poets’ series is one of my son Jimi’s compositions. Dave will also be playing some of the music that Jimi composed for my films Pollysworda and Yell.

I am also hoping to do an interview with Dave on Radio Wildfire to publish on this blog in the coming weeks.

Radio Wildfire is promoting writers and poets from all over the world and is well worth a listen.

You can listen in tonight at 8pm at http://radiowildfire.com/ or to the loop at anytime outside the live broadcast.

Night Blue Fruit returns tomorrow at Taylor John’s in the Canal Basin in Coventry. This spoken word evening has been running for about seven years now and has seen many great poets read there. It was started by Jonathan Morley and the Heaventree Press and is the link to Cork for the Coventry Cork literature exchange. It is led by Antony Owen and Barry Patterson, two great poets from the city who both have had excellent collections published in recent years.

Antony was guest poet at the Fizz last September, when he delivered a very well received set accompanied by an ambient soundtrack. It was one of the best Fizz events that we have had at Polesworth and I look forward to having him back with new set in the future.

Barry is the guest poet at the next Fizz in March. Barry is one of the Poets Trail poets, who always delivers an engaging set with all the skills of the natural story teller, his words and voice resonate a lasting ambience of Natures Mystic.

Both will no doubt be at Night Blue Fruit tomorrow and look out for the posters for the Fizz on this blog in the coming weeks.

I am continuing with the edit on Double Booked which is probably the most time consuming aspect of film making. The opening, establishing shots are done as a rough edit, visually I want to tighten them up and the sound needs to be mastered to achieve a smooth transition between shot locations. At the moment it sounds like the change from the film to the TV Ads, I never understand why the sound levels increase when the broadcast goes into the transition between programme and TV ad, (well I do really, they want to make sure we are awake when the ads come on) – it annoys me and I more likely to hit the mute button until the programme returns.

That aside – my film at the moment has the same sound transition, pitch and roll between scenes, so this needs to be fixed.

I am currently working on the main dialogue scene, cutting in close ups to the main dialogue – this at the moment involves a lot of viewing, looking at the main film and deciding where and when to put in close ups – some of it easy – especially for the longer speeches other areas are more difficult. What I don’t want to do is have it flicking around too much that the visuals take away from the excellent dialogue that was written by Keith Large.

Keith’s excellent Radio play Talkers and Doers – which stars David (Dai) Bradley, who played Billy Casper in the film Kes, will also be broadcast on Radio Wildfire during tonight’s broadcast. So another great reason to listen in.

More on my lost poets in a couple of weeks.


Readings in February

Feb 7th – Night Bluefruit – Coventry.
Feb 21st – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Feb 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The size of the boot in my car.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

STILL – The Film shoot last Saturday


Radio4 Comedy.


It all went as well as I had hoped, well better if I am honest, the film shoot on Saturday that is. With a limited number of hours in which to set up and gather the footage it was a tight schedule for the cast and crew who all came together and made it happen.

The Film, Double Booked was developed from a script by Keith Large, who has also produced the film. It stars Kim Joyce as Bob Heap, the Night Porter at the Best Lodge Hotel who is determined not to let anything disturb his sleep and Helen Bolitho as Nina Cole, a guest who has a problem with a man in her room and expects Bob to sort it out, I won’t give anymore away about how it plays out than that other than it is very funny.

Both actors were true professionals who delivered their lines time and time again as we took the shots from various angles, face to face, close up on Kim, close up on Helen and over Helen’s shoulder.

Kim Joyce as Bob Heap - The Night Porter determined to get some sleep - Photo (C) Keith Large 2012

The day started with a crew meeting over brunch, going through the shots and the technical details, I was directing and operating the camera, Jimi was on sound and Jack was the production assistant doing all the running around and moving the equipment into position. With the team brief over and stomachs full we head to check and load the equipment into the car.

This included various props as well as the cameras, sound and lighting equipment it became apparent that a bigger car would have been in order and that maybe some of the equipment should have been take over to the location in Coalville earlier, but we managed to squeeze it all in and head over to meet with Keith and the two actors at the specified time of 3:00pm.

The shoot took place at Coalville Constitutional Club, an old building next to the railway line and set back a little from the road but not enough to remove all that noise of traffic which we were going to have to contend with. The Committee and Steward of the club had been exceptional in accommodating us; after all we would cause a certain amount of disruption. Putting up signs that created the hotel, moving things about, hiding objects that were not to be in shot and stopping people moving around the foyer area in their normal routine. Then upstairs in the function room, creating a hotel reception set. Nothing was too much trouble and they made us really welcome, certainly a place I would consider using again if a film called for such a building.

The shoot was in the evening as we could not access the rooms until 6:30pm, which was fine as the film takes place at just after midnight so it needed to be dark. We had allowed ourselves thirty minutes to dress the sets before Keith, Kim and Helen arrived to start the final run throughs. So we based ourselves in the Old hermitage Hotel who had kindly loaned us a conference room for a run through of the script. Initially around the table and then standing as Kim and Helen would be in the film. This was time well spent as it enabled Kim and Helen to get their lines right in terms of words and tone; it also developed expressions and interjections that worked well into the script. There were one or two slight wording changes that needed to be considered and with the adjustments made, we ensured we did not waste time in front of the camera. It also sorted out the practicalities of handling the props.

At 6:30pm, the crew headed to set up. The planning really paid off here, as the set dressing had been kept simple, in the main making use of what was already there and dressing it with ornaments. The main part of the set was to turn the DJ unit into a reception desk, which was done, using tow speakers, a shelf from B&Q, a poster created on PowerPoint and lots of gaffer tape and bluetac, even using bluetac to put a false light switch just inside the door – which caused some amusement at the end of the shoot when I removed it as it had been assumed that it was real and that it just did not operate the lights that we want to us. It took 20 minutes to turn a function room dance floor into a hotel reception, the art of deception may be a flimsy, taped together affair but it served our purposes.

The Crew review the footage - Photo (C) Keith Large 2012

We were joined by Maria Smith, a fellow Leicester writer who took stills of the production, some of which I will post here later when she has had time to sort them through. Harriet Warner, a performance poet and actress who supported as the second production assistant and was able to get the experience of working on a film shoot. Both were invaluable, Maria in creating a record of the shoot and Harriet through guarding doors and offering her thoughts on the footage.

The action started at around 7:15 with some establishing shots outside the building and then on to the shots in the foyer of the club so that we would be out of the way of the club users at the earliest opportunity. These in the can as they say, we move up to the function room for several hours and takes as we worked our way through the script and storyboard.

Lighting was the part I was least happy with and I need to spend far more time investigating this area of filming so that I can instinctively place a light and know what it is going to achieve in terms of coverage, warmth and shadow. It was very much trial and error, which to me delayed the process unnecessarily. With a small crew we have to double up in jobs, which is no excuse – the lighting was down to me and I think it could have been done better.

We filmed it over and again, over shooting as I felt it was better to have more footage to work with in the edit that less. Although we were viewing back the footage using a portable DVD player – one of the money saving tips I discussed on this blog before Christmas, I am sure that there will be something I will spot in the edit that will mean I need to use alternative shots, I am only too glad to have them.

Helen Bolitho as Nina Cole and Kim Joyce as Bob Heap - Discuss the situation - Photo (C) Keith Large 2012

Whilst I mention my money saving tips – the mic. boom made from a decorators pole was also excellent and in the end cost less that £20 to make.

Filming finished at around 11:30pm and we said our goodbyes shortly after that, with the crew of Jimi, Jack and I loading up the car and heading home.

This was my directing debut for a piece of comedy drama or any drama for that matter, those who know my previous films will know that I have never worked with actors, I am very grateful to Kim, Helen and Keith for their patience in working with me.

I am also very grateful to Jimi and Jack for their relentless work and to Maria and Harriet for support and effort on the evening.

Now to the Edit.

Here are some links to websites of those who were involved in this wonderful production.

Keith Large – Carrot Napper Productions:

Helen Bolitho Website:

Kim Joyce at the casting network:

Maria Smith’s Blog – First Draft Café:

Harriet Warner features in the film KES MEETS MAURICE – as Gill in the radio play Talkers and Doers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfLgz_6kVms&feature=youtu.be

LOST POETS – I will return to my lost poets next week, as I am preparing to record some of last years lots poets as feature pieces for Radio Wildfire, which I will start recording with Dave Reeves in early February and will keep you informed of the broadcast dates through this blog.

THE FIZZ – I will keep plugging the Fizz until the day – 24th January at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey with guest poet Gary Carr – plus Open Mic. – Admission is Free.



Jan 17th – Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Jan 24th – THE FIZZ – Polesworth – Guest Gary Carr.
Jan 27th – Spoken Worlds – Burton

Feb 7th – Night Bluefruit – Coventry.

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