I JOINED BRISTOL FILM AND VIDEO SOCIETY about a year ago, having had an epiphany that I wanted to make films; this after a lifetime of not even taking photographs!  So I am an absolute beginner, and not at all techie – when I first bought my Sony PJ10E camcorder barely six months ago I was afraid to take it out of the box.  I have, though,

One of course has a cultural idea of what working on a film shoot is like, it’d be impossible not to have some idea of it nowadays, but, as always, reality and fantasy are two different things and I was completely absorbed in the interesting process that is film making, which, as I now grasp better, is about each person doing their bit in the service of whatever the director’s vision is, trying their best to understand what he’s asking for and attempting to achieve.

As someone who spends a lot of time in a room alone with the contents of her own head, it’s really great for me to get out and do something as part of a team, and I’ve been consistently impressed in the last year with the levels of co-operation and teamwork in the group. There’s also, I’ve realised, a huge amount of skill, creativity and talent knocking around.  And the actors that we manage to get hold of, and who work for nothing, are an absolute knockout.  Lastly, everyone in the group is very generous with their time and willing to help people like me who aren’t at all sure what they’re doing yet.

By the end of the day I was exhausted but exhilarated (I have to say the early starts are my least favourite aspect of filming, although I do understand that they’re necessary), and enjoyed a large followed by a small glass of Merlot in the pub to which most of us repaired to celebrate the wrap – which was early, apparently an unprecedented eventuality!  Jane successfully uploaded my footage to her notebook and we all sat round half in a daze having one of those rambling conversations that tend to follow a job collectively completed.  I hope my contribution comes up to scratch, and I look forward to my next assignment with BFVS – clapperboy (clappergirl?) on David Price’s ‘Kabul Sunset’.

And one day I’m hoping to be in the Director’s seat; but listen up, boys – it’s not gonna have guns in it!  It might even be a weepie.

Will you cope?

Sue Mansi

October 2012


tried to throw myself into the Society’s activities and make the most of opportunities to learn and join in, and I feel I’ve made good progress for someone who’s more used to writing poetry and creating characters for novels than thinking about framing and camera settings and editing systems.  So I was delighted to get a phone call from BVFS chairman Roger Pyne inviting me to be a camera man/woman/person – I think I’ll go with woman, because I am one – on Graham Egarr’s latest blockbuster project ‘Nightmare’. Apparently someone somewhere thinks I show some promise.

Very eager to be seen as reliable and keen, I started off by turning up for the walkthrough a whole twenty-four hours early, and then, the next day at the right time, not getting there at all, due to a mishap on the way involving paramedics and police and a coach full of lovely Welsh women.  That over with, I managed to get to the actual shoot in one piece, still eager to come up with the goods.

Filming outdoors on a very sunny day has its problems, and I’m not yet fully au fait  with the various settings on my camera, so when it was discovered that my footage was looking a bit washed out and I expressed a forlorn hope that it could be corrected ‘in post’ (lingo picked up in the last year), Declan Smith kindly stepped in and found out how to alter my exposure settings for me.  He also worked out that my camera was focusing on some dust that had got onto the lens at one point, when I was thinking I was having a serious equipment malfunction as all I could see were a lot of grainy specks instead of Helen’s black-boot-clad feet.  Thanks, Declan!  And Graham himself was very patient with me when I couldn’t manoeuvre the camera quickly enough for what was happening, and got the actors to slow down and space out each bit of action rather than just clocking me on the head in despair.  Apart from that I think I acquitted myself rather well, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.