The Solitary Rambler

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Filmed May 1995
Post-production completed September 1995
Latest revised edition 8th November 2014
Running time 50 minutes
Much to my annoyance Michael brings a friend called Nigel along on a ramble, who constantly challenges and criticises me about my sense of direction and local knowledge. Although I try to ignore all this I become more and more wound up, ending up with me making Nigel lead our little expedition to see if he can do better.....
Filmed in the county of Gloucestershire including Tutshill , Tidenham and the Chase, St Briavels , Bream , Ellwood , Fetter Hill, Nagshead Plantation and Cannop Ponds . This is the first film in the Forest of Dean .
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Background and production details
I had become concerned that Michael had appeared in my films so far purely to listen to me bantering on about my great knowledge of the locations we were visiting. I was keen to emphasise this point in “The Mysterious Forest”, so I decided to create a character who would be a physical representation of this, and with whom viewers could identify. Nigel agreed to appear in this film, after his success in “ The Old Barn Lane ”, but with a larger role this time round. Therefore, he became this character who would challenge my knowledge of the area we would be walking through.

Richard, who had been my cameraman from the start, asked if he also could appear in this film. He had, of course, appeared briefly in the pilot episode . His appearance in “The Mysterious Forest” would be even briefer, especially as Richard was not particularly keen at that time to be seen in close-up shots. Therefore, I arranged for his scenes to be recorded where he would not be clearly seen, hence his head missing from most of his shots! These shots really don't work as they just look odd and uncomfortable. He is only completely seen in his final scene when he leaves Michael and Nigel in Tutshill .

This was the first film to be shot in the Forest of Dean and the recording sessions took place in May 1995. The indoor scenes were recorded in Richard and Nigel’s new flat.

For my musical soundtrack I composed a theme that I entitled “Dark Theme of the Forest of Dean”, which is used in most of the scenes within the Forest of Dean. It is a suitably dark and dramatic soundtrack, providing a very haunting atmosphere for our introductory visit to the Forest. There was only one short piece of music I used in this film, which wasn’t my own composition, and that was “ Mudmen ” by Pink Floyd taken from their 1972 album “ Obscured by Clouds ”. I used this for the very last scene from where Michael, Nigel and I arrive at Cannop Ponds to where I walk away to Mile End before the film fades to black.

Revised editions

When I got round to “The Mysterious Forest” in 2001 to digitally re-edit along with the re-recording of the musical soundtrack I had the opportunity to make some real improvements in other areas. In the original 1995 version I had simply pointed the camcorder at sheets of white paper with black lettering for the film titles and end credits, which I thought really looked naff, so I could certainly produce much better titling with video editing software.

As with the pilot episode and “ The Lost Villages ” I revisited some of the locations where this film was first shot in 1995 to film a few new scenes to insert into the new version. I also decided to insert some unused scenes I had shot for the following film   recorded in 1996. In 2014, as with the latest revised editions for the preceding films, I decided not to use any of the inserted footage that had been used in the 2001 version.

I’ve mentioned in the production details for some of the earlier films about my wiping the original camcorder tapes to reuse when shooting the next video. For “The Mysterious Forest”, although most of the original footage had been wiped, there was still a little bit of footage that had not been taped over from the camcorder tapes, which were the scenes from Little Drybrook to Nagshead Plantation , so I was able to use that when re-editing the video in 2014. It was a noticeable difference, which reinforces how shameful it was that I wiped the master tapes each time I made a new film in those days, but as I’ve said before the fact of the matter was I simply couldn’t afford to keep buying new camcorder tapes.

I had to remove “Mudmen” by Pink Floyd when I uploaded this 2014 revised edition to YouTube due to copyright, so the only difference in the YouTube version is that there is no music for the last scenes and the film fades to black as I walk away from Michael and Nigel before I reach Mile End.
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