Written and Directed by Harry Clegg
Music and Sound Design by Stephen Frost
A man has an unsettling encounter while walking by the canal
“Fiddler is one of two films which resulted from the OTT Film Camera Workshop held in November 2007. The story idea came from a short newspaper report about a series of incidents where people coming out of clubs had been surrounded by “revellers” who forced them to join in an impromptu dance, lifting their wallets in the process. One man was quoted as saying he’d run after them and demanded his wallet back and - rather surprisingly perhaps - they’d returned it without argument. The slightly surreal image this conjured up appealed to me and I decided it could be fashioned into an amusing little film. It also suited well the need for a story that could be told on the streets near my flat in East London with a minimum of props.
The lead character, the Chump, was ably played by OTT’s Rob Talbot. The Happy Slappers were all final year students at the Arts Education Centre in Turnham Green.
The film was shot in sequence and edited in camera by Tony Driver using his wind-up Bolex 16mm camera. I was somewhat perturbed to discover that the Bolex was noticeably myopic, not focussing to beyond about six feet. For this reason, Pete Wallington operated my Nizo 6040 super 8 camera as back-up. Both cameras were loaded with Ektachrome colour reversal stock, 100 ASA in the case of the 16mm and 64 for the super 8. Each camera had roughly two minutes of film running at 25fps, and this is the duration of the finished film.
Before stepping out onto the street we shot the entire sequence on video just to make certain we had a clear idea of what we needed to do. This mean that we didn’t start the actual filming till close on 2pm, giving us just two hours to shoot the whole thing before the light went. By the time we got to the last shot it was past 4pm and we were really pushing it. It was too dark to get a decent picture on the super 8 so I was forced to use an out of focus long shot on the Bolex to finish the film.
We decided to have the film cross-processed – putting our positive film through negative processing. The super 8 came out extremely grainy with a bluish tinge as a result. Curiously, the 16mm didn’t seem much changed by it. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t such a good idea to cross-process the stock because otherwise we could have projected the camera film and seen the film in its full glory - albeit with a few glitches!
I opted to edit both films together, using more of the larger gauge since it looked a lot better. I essentially laid one layer of video over the other and varied the opacity between the two.
Two shots were marred by joggers in brightly coloured attire and I managed to get rid of them in After Effects, the first time I’ve attempted this.
The film really came alive once Stephen Frost sent me his score and sound design. His Balkans-inspired violin created just the kind of eerie hyper-realistic mood I was looking for.
We had a lot of fun shooting this and I think the end result is a nice little film.”