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The making of Turning the Turf

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At BIAFF 2010 Geoff Caudwell won a 4-Star Award with Turning the Turf.

I find this type of film very satisfying to make as it's all my own work ...

Still from 'Turning the Turf'.Still from 'Turning the Turf'.

Country activities are popular subjects for amateur film-makers. I went to a ploughing match with two other members of our club, with the intention of making a documentary film of the event. While filming horse ploughing, one of the ploughmen asked if he could see some of my finished video. So, from then on, I spent most of the time concentrating on him, and he won most of the prizes.

With the video in the can, I decided that, rather than produce a documentary about horse ploughing, I'd set it to music. The next step was to find a suitable piece of music - one which started fairly quietly, then developed a beat as the horses' legs moved into action.

I used long and medium shots to set the scene, and added close-ups to give impact and maintain interest. I tried taking shots from several different angles, and even lying on the ground; but I gave up on this as it disturbed the horses and threatened to affect the quality of the ploughing. After all, they were there for a ploughing competition, not to provide me with a subject for filming !

I shot everything in 4:3 aspect and standard definition on my Panasonic DX110, with all shots taken using a good tripod.

Still from 'Turning the Turf'. Still from 'Turning the Turf'. Still from 'Turning the Turf'.

The adjustments to the plough, at the beginning of the film, were actually shot near the end of the ploughing match, but it seemed more appropriate to use them as preparation for the action. The phrasing of the music also suited this arrangement. Editing was done on Pinnacle Studio 8, and cuts are generally to the music beat, with a heavy beat co-inciding with the horses' footsteps. One shot had to be flipped horizontally to reverse the direction of movement and avoid 'crossing the line'.

Still from 'Turning the Turf'.Judges in competitions have generally been very complimentary about the film, with one exception who said that the modern music wasn't appropriate for an old fashioned subject.

I find this type of film very satisfying to make as it's all my own work - no actors, scriptwriters or narrators required. The selection of suitable music is the most important aspect of this type of film, and it can make or break it.

-Geof Caudwell LACI

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