The Solitary Rambler

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Filmed January to March 1999
Post-production completed 27th March 2001
Latest revised edition 22nd January 2016
Running time 66 minutes
I return to the area where I spent the earliest years of my life when I lived with both my parents. I have many sentiments of the places I visit on probably my most personal ramble to date. But why are things not as they seem, and who is the young woman I keep bumping into? Strange things happen during my trip as my infallible sense of direction appears to let me down on this occasion.....
Filmed around many Severnside towns and villages including part of the  Forest of Dean  in the county of  Gloucestershire . Locations include  Beachley Sedbury Woolaston Alvington Aylburton Bream Lydney Purton , Gatcombe, Etloe,  Blakeney Awre Newnham Westbury Minsterworth , and  Gloucester .
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Background and production details
I wanted to make a film around the area of where I first lived, so I wrote a 30-page script called “Sentiments of Severnside”. Anthony and Izzy were other friends who asked to be in a “Solitary Rambler” so I wrote them into it. I also wanted one more cast member to play the main antagonist, so I eventually persuaded Richard to take on this role. Making his third appearance in the series I tried to ensure that, although he was not exactly a baddie in his two previous appearances, it would not affect the series’ continuity.

When my camcorder was damaged during the recording of “ Confrontations in Cannop ” I discovered it was more beneficial to buy a new one rather than pay for the old one to be repaired. Therefore, I bought a new one in the sales in January 1998. For half the price of my original camcorder the new one had more useful features, as well as the picture being of a greater quality. I was looking forward to filming the next “Solitary Rambler” as I knew the picture quality would be of a very high standard. One of the additional features was an option to film in widescreen format, so that was how I opted to record this and future films.

I wanted to record “Sentiments of Severnside” during the winter season, but Richard was not keen to go out in the freezing cold! Clayton, who had previously been a guest star in “Confrontations in Cannop”, very kindly offered to be my cameraman instead. This would be the first “Solitary Rambler” film to be shot by someone other than Richard.

Clayton and I went out on location for three days, accompanied by Izzy for just one of those days to record all her exterior scenes. I recorded all the scenic cutaways by myself in February and March.

We recorded all the interior scenes in Michael’s flat. Incidentally, Michael was living in the same flat at that particular time in which Jenny had previously resided when we recorded the  pilot episode  back in 1993. This is also the first time in a “Solitary Rambler” story that Michael would not be on location, so the only scenes in which he appears are in his flat. This is also the first film to feature Anthony, who was a terrible giggler, so it took quite a few takes before there was any usable footage!

With the filming out of the way the next stage was to edit it, which happened two years later!! There are many reasons for this, but I will not go into it too deeply as it would take much too long to explain! To cut a long story short, during filming of “Sentiments of Severnside” computer technology had advanced considerably, and I heard through the grapevine that it was now possible to edit videos on computers. I was, therefore, determined to edit my latest “Solitary Rambler” through this medium. By the time I was able to afford to buy my own PC with editing software it was more than a year after we shot our footage. Then, of course, it took me a long time to get to know how to use the software properly to achieve the best results. In the end it was definitely worth it as the finished production looks extremely lavish in comparison to the previous films.

The main bonus when I bought my new PC was the music software. I composed my music on my electronic organ as normal, but recording it with the software made it sound 100 times more professional than before. The results sound fantastic, even if I do say so myself! Therefore, “Sentiments of Severnside” broke new ground in its picture quality and musical soundtrack. I think it is some of the most dramatic and atmospheric music I have ever composed for “The Solitary Rambler”, so perhaps it is no surprise that it is one of my personal favourite soundtracks in the series.

As the music sounds so professional I have since worked through all the previous six films of “The Solitary Rambler” and re-recorded all their own respective soundtracks. I have not changed the musical soundtracks for these films, I have simply re-recorded exactly the same themes for each one using this music software, and in all cases it has been worth the effort.

Revised edition
In January 2016 I finally made the time to look at making a brand new edit of “Sentiments of Severnside” using the digitized Hi8 footage.  The first task was to rescan all the photos I had used of my Mum and Dad’s wedding as well as the photos of Bream and Clanna Road. I also found some additional old photos of Bream, which I wanted to use. Once all these photos had been scanned I used Picasa software to digitally improve and enhance them.
The next step was to re-record the commentary as I no longer had the original commentary files I had recorded back in 2001. This was an interesting task as my voice has changed a little in 15 years! I also took the opportunity to review some of the commentary as, bearing in mind I would be uploading the completed video to YouTube, I was thinking of what may now not be appropriate to be made available publicly online. As a result I recorded a couple of sections of alternative commentary for the version I would be uploading to YouTube.
The YouTube version would also omit the photos of my parents and a couple of minor edits of where I am standing outside my old house in Alvington and Nan’s house in Sedbury . I did not feel it would be appropriate to publicly draw attention to a specific house that would today be someone else’s home.
Next: Haven of Highmeadow
Previous: Confrontations in Cannop
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