The Solitary Rambler

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Filmed August 1996
Post-production completed September 1996
Latest revised edition 19th November 2014
Running time 64 minutes
Michael, Nigel and I visit the delightful  Cannop Ponds  in the  Forest of Dean .  Although our original intention was to have a pleasant day out things do not turn out quite as we expected. Michael encounters a couple of old enemies, who are determined to settle a score with him. Events turn nasty as Nigel and I get dragged into all this, as we attempt to take matters into our own hands.....
Filmed in the  Forest of Dean  in the county of  Gloucestershire . Locations include  Cannop Ponds , Beechenhurst Speech House , Speculation,  Cinderford Coleford Parkend  and  New Fancy View .
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Background and production details
Back in my younger days, when I went picnicking in the  Forest of Dean  with my family,  Cannop Ponds  and Beechenhurst were the places we most commonly went to. The “Melody of the Forest of Dean” was the tune I created in my head, therefore I always hummed it when visiting these locations. With this in mind making a film around here would be essential to me, scored with this music, even though I had no idea for a very long time what type of story I would write to take place in this area. In August 1996 this childhood ambition was finally fulfilled when we recorded “Confrontations in Cannop”.

I had felt that “ The Mysterious Forest ” had been slightly disappointing, so I wanted to make my new script more varied and have more people in it to make it more interesting. During the summer of 1995 I slowly but surely wrote the next storyline, and in the end I had created a kind of comedy-thriller. The finished script was nearly 30 pages, whereas all the previous ones had been around 10-15 pages. This would account for the finished film being faster paced than the earlier ones, and this was the target I set for all subsequent projects.

“The Solitary Rambler” had been watched by an increasing number of people by this time, and I was discovering that more of my friends were asking to appear in it themselves. Clayton and Scott were two friends who asked if they could be in “Confrontations in Cannop”, so I wrote them into my script as villains of the story. Michael would appear as usual, as well as Nigel. Again, intending to make Michael more than just being around to react to my lines, I created a fictional storyline about Michael’s past so that his role would be given more depth.

The first scene to be recorded was with Michael and Clayton for their storyline, which was supposed to have taken place one year before Michael, Nigel and I visit Cannop Ponds. Just after filming this my camcorder was damaged, so for the remaining footage I borrowed Scott’s camcorder.

Tempers became short again during one particular day of filming as we had been on location since 10:00am. By 4:00pm it had seemed like a really long day and most people, including myself, were getting rather tired and fed up. The joys of filming!

During editing I recorded various versions of my musical theme “Melody of the Forest of Dean”, which I used to a great extent in the film. Considering this was a childhood tune I am absolutely delighted that it has now become one of my most popular soundtracks, as well as being probably the best-remembered tune associated with “The Solitary Rambler”.

This story starts the trend where I use alliterative film titles, i.e. "Confrontations in Cannop", "Sentiments of Severnside", "Haven of Highmeadow", etc. After discussing with friends it has become practically compulsory to continue this with every new film I create!

Revised editions

I re-edited “Confrontations in Cannop” in 2002 with the digital video editing software, but the real joy was using the music software to re-record the original musical soundtrack. It had been wonderful re-recording the music for the first five films. The results were so much better and the music sounded fantastic, but “Cannop” was particularly exciting to work on as it was my best soundtrack. The thought of being able to make this music sound more professional was wonderful, so I thoroughly enjoyed using the music software to re-record “Melody of the Forest of Dean” as well as the other themes originally recorded for the film.

During the filming in 1996 my Sony camcorder was damaged, so for the remainder of the shooting I was able to borrow another camcorder from a friend. Unfortunately, the picture quality produced from this camcorder was not on a par with my Sony camcorder, which included creating a great deal of dropout in the tapes, so there is noticeable difference when cut together with the shots taken with the Sony. These issues aside all the master footage still exists on the original camcorder tapes, so I was able to make a new edit completely from scratch knowing that the original picture quality would not be diminished.

In 2014 I opted to digitize all of my existing camcorder footage before the tapes deteriorated as well as preparing to carry out new edits. I no longer had the original master camcorder footage for films one to five, but with the exception of “ The Lost Villages ” a copy of all the master footage existed on VHS tapes, which I had then transferred onto disc. For films six to fourteen I still had the original camcorder tapes with all the master footage, so using new video capture software I spent about two weeks going through every single tape copying all the video footage onto disc. “Confrontations in Cannop” is the earliest film of “The Solitary Rambler” where all the original camcorder footage still exists, so I was looking forward to making a fresh new edit using the digitized footage. The 2014 revised edition is not much different to the original 1996 version, the only difference being the sequence with Clayton and Scott in my car is slightly shorter with a different effect when I slam on the brakes at New Fancy .
Next: Sentiments of Severnside
Previous: The Mysterious Forest
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