The Solitary Rambler

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Filmed July 1994
Post-production completed September 1994
Latest revised edition 2nd November 2014
Running time 57 minutes
Michael decides to write an assignment as part of his college project about my early life experiences. I take him back to Chepstow where I spent most of my childhood. During our day in the town events lead to the resurrection of my childhood phobia - a creepy old haunt I vowed never to visit again.....
Filmed in the county of  Monmouthshire  including the  Chepstow  suburbs of Garden City and  Bulwark , as well as the village of  Mathern  and the quiet country lane between there and Bulwark known locally as "Barn Lane".
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Background and production details
Phobias are very personal and, whilst they may seem odd to others, can create a huge impression on children, as did Barn Lane on me when I was very young. Although this was not something I could necessarily make other people empathise with, it seemed a great subject about which to make a film.

Shortly after I completed writing the original script for “The Lost Villages” back in 1990, I wrote a draft script for “The Old Barn Lane”. Therefore, I chose to polish up this script and make this the next “Solitary Rambler” film.

I wanted other people in this film aside from just Michael and myself. My friends Nigel and Martin agreed to appear in a couple of scenes. I also managed to persuade my mother to appear in one scene as I felt her participation would help to give my phobia more depth and realism. There was one other bit of casting I needed for the flashback sequence. These off-camera roles went to my Uncle Gordon who played “Screamer”, and my cousin Daniel who played me as a boy.

I wrote the first scene with Martin and Nigel without specific dialogue, therefore they ad-libbed again. Martin accidently hit Nigel in the face with his elbow during one take, but they carried on and I kept the camera rolling. The results were so good we decided we didn't need to do another take as it just made their scene look all the more convincing!

Filming began in July 1994. There were a few interior scenes that need to be recorded for this film. The scene where I get out of bed and ring my mother was recorded at the house in Bedminster , Bristol , where I was living at the time with Richard and Nigel. The scene with Mum was recorded at her house at that time in Whitehall , Bristol.

For the exterior shots we recorded the scenes with Martin and Nigel in one evening. The sequence where Michael and I meet up with them was recorded at the football ground at Burnt Barn Road in Bulwark . We then went for a drink at the Miller’s Arms in Mathern village, which was a good excuse because we needed to wait a while for it to become suitably dark in order for us to film the scene with Martin and Nigel at Mathern Church!

As part of the film's soundtrack I also re-recorded parts of two songs, both of which I composed at a very young age. "Haar-Subb" was the first (don't ask me what that means or why I gave the song that title - I was only a kid!!), which I used in the scene of where Michael and I stand at the site where my primary school once stood. "Golden Sunset" was the other song, and I used this for the scene where we walk along Middle Way in Bulwark where I lived for my last three years in Chepstow. Neither of these songs are particularly relevant to the story, but they have personal meaning to me as I always associate music with places. I originally created "Haar-Subb" at around the time I went to primary school, and created "Golden Sunset" when I lived in Middle Way.

Revised editions

In 2001 I digitally re-edited “The Old Barn Lane” as I had done with the first two films of "The Solitary Rambler". This film was easier to work on as there was nothing I wanted to actually change for the new edition and unlike films one and two I had not revisited the locations to film additional shots with my newer camcorder. The only difference for this new version was to re-record the soundtrack with the music software and to add a better quality photo of the Wyelands lodge I had taken years ago when it was still painted red.

For the 2014 revised edition, again, I didn’t want to make any changes. However, the first six films of "The Solitary Rambler" were all shot with a camcorder that only produced footage in 4:3 aspect as that was the time before we had widescreen TVs. Therefore, during my latest editing for “The Old Barn Lane” (as I had done with the previous two films, and would do with the next three) I was able to make the finished video viewable on widescreen monitors without the need for manually changing the aspect.
Next: Escape Through the Valley to Tranquillity
Previous: The Lost Villages
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