Soul Searcher: August 19th 2004

Mmmmmm, explosions.

I voyaged to Hewelsfield, Gloucestershire. There, on the edge of a picturesque valley (and on his mum’s front lawn), Toby Stewart and his partner in crime, Alistair Burchill, blew up some crap. Let me pre-empt the lawsuit here and point out that by “crime” I actually mean “legally licensed, safety-conscious pyrotechnic activity”.

To begin at the beginning, Toby and Alistair – of Scorched Earth Pyrotechnics – gave me a brief tour of their kitchen table. This particular quadrupedal specimen of cooking room furniture was adorned with a range of explosive devices which would not be out of place in a James Cameron film. (I wonder how many government organisations have suddenly taken an interest in this website?) At the appointed hour, the neighbours having been forewarned, the two pyrotechnicians began setting off the multitude of explosives with which the front garden had been laced. This included a wooden board which had been rigged with bullet hits. Large quantities of foam were employed to put it out.

I asked whether they could do me something in a fireball. Alistair promptly disappeared behind the garden shed, re-emerging five minutes later with a small plastic bag containing some kind of petrol cocktail. This blew up very nicely. I was later shown a photograph of a fireball they had created previously at an airshow. From the size of the marquee in the bottom of the frame, it must have been over 50ft high.

We then got down to details, discussing the particulars of the film’s two main explosions. Fire or no fire? How much smoke? What colour sparks? Multi-stage or one big bang? It also turned out that another section of Toby’s garden was perfect for shooting the whole of the climactic miniature sequence. Vehicular access, scaffolding and heavy-duty power supplies were all readily available.

This evening I’ve posted on Shooting People for a DoP. I had been planning to shoot the miniatures myself, having long harboured a desire to shoot 16mm, but I’ve decided it’s not worth risking it. I wouldn’t want to make a dumb rookie mistake and wind up ruining the explosion shots.

Soul Searcher: August 19th 2004