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The making of U482

At BIAFF 2006 this film won a Gold Standard award,
the prize for Best Entry from an Affiliated Club
and a sponsor's prize from KPM Music.

Preston Movie Makers like most film clubs have few female members, and whenever I try and compose a script/screenplay this has to be considered. After reading an article in a local newspaper whilst on holiday on the Mull of Kintyre, the story of U-482 was finally revealed after being subject to the Official Secrets Act for so many years.

Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'.

The story had all of the requirements that I felt would provide for an easy production.The possibility of an all-male cast with most of the action taking place within the confines of the submarine. Furthermore there would be no worries about location, weather or other vagaries that crop up at the wrong time. All we needed to complete the "props" was of course a German submarine, and they aren`t readily available at local car-boot sales so we decided to build our own. After some renovation that was being carried out at our clubrooms we were offered some redundant timber which was used for construction of the set, and before long we had a full size portion of a U-Boat in the back room of the clubhouse. The set consisted of a "Command Centre" , "Forward Compartment", "Radio Shack", "Chart Table" & "Periscope", which was quite adequate for the puposes of filming.

Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'.

At this stage we realised that we had a major problem in that most of our members are "mature". U-Boat crews were young men which presented us with a dilema. The problem was solved when holding a public show. I noticed three young men in the audience, and during the interval I approached them and asked if they would like to be part of our film. They readily agreed which solved our problem.

Filming commenced with our newly found young cast members and a selection of club members who were used during the "Attack" scenes. I was selected to be "First Engineer", my main qualification being that I have a beard and that I wrote the script!!!. I was however 62 years old at the time and I considered everyone else to be far too old to take part!!

Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'.

The film was shot over a period of about six months and on club nights only. After much experimentation with lighting and smoke machines, filming came to an end and the business of editing began. Editing was to take up more time than the actual fiming and our main editing experts, Pavel Szylobryt and Jim Whalley worked hard to eventually provide a very satisfactory result.

Special effects are of great importance to the film. To begin with they were very hit and miss, but as time went on we became quite efficient in the creation and the methods that we used. Two things in particular should be mentioned here. We needed a "live" light bulb to blow during the attack sequences. To do this we used an air rifle and after some attempts we were lucky in hitting it (Take 25!!). Another thing that we wanted to do was to have a bolt shoot out of the sub casing or bulkhead. This was achieved by literaly hammering it out with a hammer. You will also notice the liquid in a depth guage dropping as the submarine drops towards the bottom. Again very simple. This was yours-truly blowing some cold tea along a plastic tube, which all looks surprisingly realistic in the finished film.

Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'.

Following the completion of filming and under great pressure from our clubroom caretaker, who had by this time insisted that hotilities should end as the room was needed for blood donor sessions, the set was finally dismantled. Our next club film now in production is a wartime story about the fate of a Halifax bomber and its crew. The cockpit set has been constructed from the remains of the submarine. Now that really is re-cycling!!

Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'.

Preston Movie Makers are very proud to have won at BIAFF, an "Alexander Korda Award, The Denham Gold Trophy". By coincidence, their patron, Nick Park of Wallace & Grommet fame has also this year won his fourth Oscar and was also awarded a Bafta - "The Alexander Korda Award for the most outstanding British Film".

Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'. Still from 'U482'.

- Ted Billington (Writer, director, submarine first engineer!)    March 2006

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