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The making of Flat Out

Spring Park Cine & Video Society's group effort has been received well: the movie has won 2 awards so far, including the winner of North Vs South competition 2004, and is included in UK's official entry to UNICA 2005. Mike tells us the story behind the scene...

They say – and usually not without good reason – that anything designed or written by a ‘committee’ will (often) turn out to be a shadow of the original idea and invariably, an unmitigated disaster. The camel is cited as an example – the claim being that it started out on the drawing board as a beautiful white stallion, and then suffered the committee treatment. Of course, it can be argued that the committee were right – the camel is far more suited to desert life than any white stallion would be. Nevertheless …

Everyone’s a loser
Ah .. an omen … Flat Out!

Flat Out belies what they say. It was conceived, written, re-written, adapted and made almost entirely as a result of ‘committee’ decisions – the committee in this instance being the entire membership of Spring Park Cine & Video Society. It all started one evening when the club bounced ideas around for a club movie. The concept born at this meeting was to have a sequence of individual gags in a restaurant – a kind of ‘Laugh In’ situation, for those who remember the TV show - and indeed there were a considerable number of suggestions for the gags, together with a ‘running gag’ that would progress through the movie. And that’s how the movie would have been created if the suggestion hadn’t then been that maybe if we added a bit of ‘tension’, the movie would be a suitable candidate for the North Vs South competition – ‘Tension’ being the current theme. The running gag was honed - a gambler, broke and dejected, hoped to retrieve a £50 note stuck under the wheels of a car in order to place a sure-fire bet, and the ensuing long (tense) wait, watching through the windows of the restaurant, with the inevitable ‘false alarms’. Having decided on the new approach (almost) all of the other gags seemed superfluous – we had a movie without them … and so they could be saved for another day, maybe.

In the 3.30 … but no money
Hallo, What’s that then…

Finding a restaurant with easy viewing to parked cars outside could have been a problem. But fortunately someone knew someone who had relation who had a neighbour who had a friend who once worked for a chap who … you get the idea. The main location was found. Next came the work on the script – and, not being trained actors, it was decided (a ‘committee’ decision) to keep the dialog to an absolute minimum, and even then, allow the actors to ‘use their own words’. So – nothing to learn parrot fashion. Armed with props (an oversized £50 note and two cars suitably sited with the help of the local constabulary), 20 or so club members descended on the ‘Evolution One’ restaurant at Down, Kent (Darwin’s village), on its normally closed day, for the shoot.

And what a splendid day it turned out to be. At one point, a neighbouring shopkeeper surreptitiously sidled up to the restaurant owner and whispered that “there’s a fifty quid note stuck under the wheel of a car outside your restaurant...” Of course, the movie required brief shoots at other locations as well.

Surely not?!...
Worth waiting for...

It was during the edit that another ‘gag’ was introduced near the end of the movie … partly because it had proved difficult to shoot the build up to the actual reason for the title (I’m desperately trying not to give anything away here!), and partly to emphasise the outcome and reinforce the main gag. A bit of pruning – one whole sequence was removed (by committee decision) to make the movie a little shorter and a lot sharper – and it was made … a truly club inspired, club created movie that shows, sometimes, committees do get it right! (The movie has so far won two awards, and is entered for a number of other competitions, including Unica 2005 and the Kent Film Festival, with high hopes…)

For further information,. Contact
Mike Shaw (Chair, SPCVS)
0208 777 8330

Flatout was one of the UK offical entries to UNICA 2005, Belgium.
Click here to read more about UNICA 2005 and other UK entries.

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Page updated on 09 October 2011
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