The Solitary Rambler

MEANDERINGS OF MANIFOLD
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Filmed 28th March to 11th May 2013
Post-production completed 9th November 2013
Running time 63 minutes
Synopsis
 
A single man, living alone, hoping to meet the right lady with whom to share my life, I join an online dating site. Thinking about this stage in my life I spend time exploring the wonderful  Manifold Valley  and  the Roaches  in  Staffordshire . Whilst out and about in these quieter regions of the  Peak District  I reveal the stories of some of the women I met from the dating site.....
Locations
 
Filmed in the  Peak District  in the counties of  Staffordshire  and  Cheshire  featuring the  Manifold Valley  and  the Roaches . Locations include  Flash Hollinsclough Longnor Alstonefield Wetton Thor's Cave Butterton  and  Lud's Church .
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Background and production details
 
I was still not in a position to work on post-production of “ Milestone in Matlock ” by the latter part of 2011. However, I saw no harm in going out to film a new project in the meantime. Time was ticking on and I didn’t particularly want a huge gap in years between “Matlock” and its succeeding story, so I turned my attention to filming a new film of “The Solitary Rambler”.

Although I had ideas for more stories and places where I wanted to film, I decided for my third film to be shot in the Peak District I was going film in places where I hadn’t ever had plans of doing so. This ultimately made my latest project quite exciting and a real pleasure to make as I would be starting completely from scratch without any preconceived ideas as to what I wanted to do.

I had no script of any kind, so I just started listing out locations where I thought it would be nice to film. I chose the  Manifold Valley  as my main setting for the 16th “Solitary Rambler” film as it was an area of the  Peak District  I hadn’t visited as often as other regions. I also decided on  the Roaches  to be the other main location in the film. Other places I decided to include were locations along and/or near the  High Peak  and  Tissington Trails  including the Cromford Canal, Middleton Top, Tissington, Alsop-en-le Dale, Biggin,  Longnor  and Crowdecote.

For “Meanderings of Manifold”, as I had decided to call it, I would be taking a step even further than I did with “Milestone in Matlock”, i.e. for “Matlock” I had used a hard disk drive camcorder for the first time, and “Manifold” would be the first film I would be recording with a HD (High Definition) camcorder meaning the picture quality would be even better than it had been in “Matlock”.

The script for the project developed after I had decided on all the locations. As several locations were along the trails of disused railway lines, i.e. High Peak and Tissington Trails and a section of the Manifold Valley, I decided to focus my story on some of these old Peak District railways. I also had a friend and work colleague called Martin, who was Chairman of the  Steeple Grange Light Railway , a narrow gauge line near Wirksworth. He had also been involved in the writing of several guidebooks of pub walks in the Peak District, so I sought to include him and his railway in my project, to which he happily agreed.

On Sunday 30th October 2011 I had arranged to film Steeple Grange Light Railway, and on the very same day I discovered that the old  Leawood Pump House  on the Cromford Canal was having an open day. This disused pumping station was maintained and operated by a local group of volunteers, and they would be operating it on the open day. I made enquiries to find out if I could film the pump house whilst it was in operation, and it was suggested to me that I go along early on the open day to see if the local volunteer group would agree to this.

Filming

 
My filming began on Monday 17th October 2011 along the High Peak Trail at Hopton Incline, and by the end of that week I had managed to shoot all the scenes I wanted around the Manifold Valley and the Roaches before finishing in Longnor and Crowdecote. The only scenes left to record were the Steeple Grange Light Railway, Cromford Canal and Leawood Pump House. The following weekend I went out to Leawood on its open day and by agreement with the group of volunteers I filmed one of their members, who looked after the boiler house. I then went up to Steeple Grange and filmed the narrow gauge railway. I was absolutely thrilled to get some great footage from both these local places of interest.

I had just one task left to do. As I was now shooting in HD I had to go out yet again to re-film the title sequence in order for the scenes to match to the quality of the footage that had now been shot for “Meanderings of Manifold”. As with “Milestone in Matlock” I filmed exactly the same scenes for the title sequence as I had done for “ Preamble in Peak ” apart from just one or two subtle differences. After I had re-filmed the scenes for the title sequence that was my latest film of “The Solitary Rambler” all in the can! All I had to do now was to begin work on the post-production and compose the music. Nothing could go wrong now, or could it.....?

From post-production to disaster

 
All the video footage that I had recorded for “Meanderings of Manifold” was transferred from the HD camcorder to an external USB HDD (Hard Disk Drive). I had borrowed the camcorder from a friend, so I needed to ensure all video footage stored on it was taken off the device before I returned it. This meant that all my footage was now on the USB HDD. It was at this point when things started to go wrong!

The very day after I had completed all the filming and had transferred all the video footage onto the USB HDD I connected the external drive to my computer. The HDD started making some strange clicking and whirring noises. This went on for several minutes, before eventually an error message appeared on the computer saying “unable to recognise external USB device”. I tried disconnecting and reconnecting the HDD to the computer, but the error with the external drive occurred every time.

Some days later I took the HDD into work with me and tried connecting it to various computers in the office, but the same problem continued. I then took the drive to my local computer store, who after an initial check informed me there were broken down inner workings of the HDD and it would need to be sent off to be dismantled and tested to see if the video footage could be recovered. To do this it would cost approximately a minimum of £500, after which there would be no guarantee the footage could be recovered and that’s before the possibility of any repairs to the external drive!

My last plan of action was to contact Hitachi, the manufacturer of the HDD, as the drive was still under warranty. However, they told me they do not carry out repairs or recover data from external drives. Their advice was I should send the HDD off to a repair firm, pay for it myself and they would reimburse me, if there was no damage caused from the repair. So, I was expected to fork out £500 at the very least and if I was lucky I might get my money back if Hitachi decide it’s not been damaged..... not much of a guarantee really! I decided, therefore, that I’d have to accept that I had lost all my video footage and that it would be easier and cheaper just to go out and film the bloody thing all over again!

I was devastated. I’d spent all that time going out filming, having walked many miles in the process, knowing it had now all gone to waste. What was even more upsetting was it meant I had also lost all the footage I had shot of the Leawood Pump House and Steeple Grange Light Railway.  Even though it was a real pain in the arse I knew I could go out again at any time to re-film the Manifold Valley, etc, but it wouldn’t be so easy to re-shoot Leawood and Steeple Grange. I knew Martin well through work, so I probably could have asked him to do it again, but I didn’t like to trouble him. I certainly couldn’t ask the volunteers at the pump house, however, even if they ever held another open day, so I decided just to forget about filming these places and move on.

Facing facts and moving on

 
I was determined not to get too upset about my lost “Meanderings of Manifold” project, but I couldn’t face going out again to re-film it. In the meantime, however, I was able to find other related tasks to occupy me until I felt like taking the project on again.

As “Meanderings of Manifold” had been the first “Solitary Rambler” film I had shot in HD I decided if I was going to re-film it I wanted it to be in the same high quality as I had been so impressed with the footage, before it was all lost. By early 2012 I had saved up a bit of cash to buy a new camcorder, so rather than having to borrow one again I bought a Sony HD camcorder from an online store at a fairly cheap price. I now had a new camcorder of my own, so I could go out filming again whenever I wished.

Around the time I bought my new HD camcorder I had also bought a new computer. I had wanted to buy a new one for several years, but had not been able to afford it, which was the reason post-production work on “Milestone in Matlock” had been delayed for so long. Along with the new computer I bought new video editing and music recording software, after which I could at last begin editing and scoring the music for film 15 of “The Solitary Rambler”. By February 2013 “Milestone in Matlock” was finally completed. I could then completely put that project behind me and focus my attention on new films.

It was around this time I decided to take the plunge and have a second go at filming “Meanderings of Manifold”. I reviewed the “script” and chose to make a few changes to it. Firstly I decided to omit some of the locations I had been to on the original shoot, as well as film in a few different ones. Whilst I still wanted the main locations to be the Manifold Valley and the Roaches, I chose not to film along the Cromford Canal, High Peak and Tissington Trails and the nearby villages which included Tissington, Alsop-en-le Dale, Biggin and Crowdecote. The different locations where I chose to film that weren’t in the first shoot included  Flash Hollinsclough , Sheen, Brund,  Hulme End  and  Wincle .

Secondly, as the script for my lost project didn’t really feature a story as such I wanted to try and inject one into my second attempt, in order to beef up the film a little. I eventually came up with a story that was loosely based on some of my real-life online dating experiences and although the locations in which I would be filming had absolutely nothing to do with these events I chose to adapt my script so that the Manifold Valley and the Roaches could be the setting for the story.

Re-filming

 
I booked a week off work at the end of March 2013 with the intention of going out to re-film “Meanderings of Manifold” only to be hampered by another obstacle..... snow! The roads were so bad there was no way I could get to most of the locations. Even by the end of the week, even though some of the snow was beginning to clear, there was still a lot of ice on the roads, which made it too dangerous for me to drive. By this time I was feeling that this project was cursed as I had already lost the original footage and now that I was trying to go out to shoot it again it was stopped by the snow! Would I ever get this bloody film done?!

Never mind, by mid-April all the snow had gone so I managed to get out over the course of a few weekends during that month. The first day I went out to Flash and filmed along the source of the River Manifold as far as Hollinsclough. The second day I recorded all the scenes in Longnor, Sheen and Brund. Day three I filmed in Hulme End,  Alstonefield  and Stanshope. I had a break of about a week or two before continuing filming in  Wetton  a few days after my birthday at the beginning of May. This day I recorded all the village scenes before moving on to Wetton Hill, Back of Ecton and the more dramatic section of the Manifold Valley between  Ecton  and  Thor's Cave  then finishing back in Wetton to record a few more scenes around the church.

Day five I finished recording the scenes in the Manifold Valley when I filmed at Weag’s Bridge,  Beeston Tor , Throwley and Rushley. There was a mile or so of the Manifold beyond Rushley that I could have filmed, but I decided against it as I had already covered that area back in 2006 when I recorded scenes near the mouth of the river in  Ilam  in “Preamble in Peak”. Day six saw me moving away from the Manifold Valley to record scenes in  Grindon  and  Butterton , although the rain was against me by the time I got to the latter village, so the day was cut short. I returned to Butterton the following day to complete the scenes in the village before filming a couple of scenes in  Warslow  then crossing the wonderfully bleak moors to Ramshaw Rocks above the A53 Leek to Buxton road, where I filmed various scenes amongst the jagged rocks before completing that days filming at Hen Cloud.

The final day, which took place mainly around the Roaches, was probably one of my favourite days of filming for “Meanderings of Manifold”. I actually woke up at 4.20am and decided to just go straight out and get cracking on the filming! By the time I arrived at my first location it was still only just before 6.00am, but what a great time to film as there was absolutely no-one else around but me! I spent the next three hours walking up onto the Roaches filming some wonderful shots, and looking at the footage you can’t tell that it was only 6.00am! I finished shooting all the Roaches scenes by 9.00am then I walked down towards the River Dane before filming several scenes at  Lud's Church . By 10.00am I had moreorless finished at this location when I started to encounter other walkers, so it was a blessing that I had actually decided to film the Roaches and Lud’s Church so early! The last scenes I wanted to film were to take place a few miles down the Dane Valley at Wincle, so I walked back to my car, which I had parked in a layby at the start of the Roaches, and it was midday by the time I got back there so I was glad I only had to film a couple more scenes. I drove down to Wincle and the heavens opened. However, I decided to carry on shooting a few scenes at Danebridge before relaxing at the  Ship Inn  at Wincle for a while to enjoy a pint. The rain had stopped by the time I came out of the inn, so I recorded a few shots of the pub exterior and that was all the filming for “Meanderings of Manifold” completed!

Post-production

 
I made sure all the video footage was backed up after I returned home at the end of each day’s shooting. My new HD camcorder used SD cards, so all the HD video footage was stored on those. I then copied all my footage onto my new computer, which had plenty of capacity to store all the HD video files I had recorded. I had also bought another external USB HDD (hard disk drive), which thankfully was proving a lot more reliable than the Hitachi HDD that failed on me, so I used that as another back-up. After I had completed all the filming I then copied all the backed-up video footage to a second external USB HDD. This meant, therefore, that all my newly recorded HD footage for the re-filmed “Meanderings of Manifold” was safely stored in no less than four places! After my disaster with the original shoot in October 2011 I was not taking any chances this time!

I could now begin work on the post-production! I had actually been editing all the scenes together after each day of filming, so by the time filming was completed it was only a few more days before the complete video was in place minus the commentary, music and any overdubbing required. There had been a lot of strong winds during several of the days I was out filming, so some of my dialogue needed to be overdubbed, which was a tricky but certainly worthwhile task. I then recorded all the commentary and dubbed that onto the video, so that left only the best part to do, the music!

Music

 
I had felt a little disappointed in the end with “Milestone in Matlock”. Although the music I had recorded for it was exactly what I wanted I didn't think it was my best soundtrack. The beauty of “Meanderings of Manifold” was that it was a completely new and unplanned project, so I could create completely new themes from scratch as I had no preconceived ideas for this story. 

I wanted the music for “Manifold” to be dramatic, dark and exciting. I came across a voice called “spectral” on my Yamaha keyboard, which was perfect for the style of music I wanted to create. Spectral became a key sound for the music I composed in providing a dramatic edge and mysterious atmosphere for the film.

I also wanted to compose a specific theme for the Manifold Valley. As this film was a completely fresh idea I had no theme in my head, so I had to come up with something totally new right from scratch. I eventually came up with a simple theme consisting of only two chords with a steel guitar sound, but it was a very pleasant bit of music. When I came to record this theme I added additional sounds and I have to say I think my Manifold Valley Theme is a really beautiful soundtrack.

For the Roaches I wanted to compose a theme that would be haunting and mysterious. I recorded a theme, but the more I played it back the less I liked it. I then recorded a slight variation of this theme, which was a little better, but I was still not happy with it. Although it was haunting in its own way it was just too dark and depressing, so I ended up scrapping it completely. After a while I composed a completely different theme for the Roaches which, although lighter than the scrapped theme, is a lovely piece of music suitably complimenting the beauty of this location.

Finally I decided to use sections of a song I had composed and recorded in 2003 entitled “Another Game We Play”, which I thought would work for some of the storyline. I recorded new extracts of that song to use in a few scenes of the film.
I had felt a little disappointed in the end with “Milestone in Matlock”. Although the music I had recorded for it was exactly what I wanted I didn't think it was my best soundtrack. The beauty of “Meanderings of Manifold” was that it was a completely new and unplanned project, so I could create completely new themes from scratch as I had no preconceived ideas for this story. 

I wanted the music for “Manifold” to be dramatic, dark and exciting. I came across a voice called “spectral” on my Yamaha keyboard, which was perfect for the style of music I wanted to create. Spectral became a key sound for the music I composed in providing a dramatic edge and mysterious atmosphere for the film.

I also wanted to compose a specific theme for the Manifold Valley. As this film was a completely fresh idea I had no theme in my head, so I had to come up with something totally new right from scratch. I eventually came up with a simple theme consisting of only two chords with a steel guitar sound, but it was a very pleasant bit of music. When I came to record this theme I added additional sounds and I have to say I think my Manifold Valley Theme is a really beautiful soundtrack.

For the Roaches I wanted to compose a theme that would be haunting and mysterious. I recorded a theme, but the more I played it back the less I liked it. I then recorded a slight variation of this theme, which was a little better, but I was still not happy with it. Although it was haunting in its own way it was just too dark and depressing, so I ended up scrapping it completely. After a while I composed a completely different theme for the Roaches which, although lighter than the scrapped theme, is a lovely piece of music suitably complimenting the beauty of this location.

Finally I decided to use sections of a song I had composed and recorded in 2003 entitled “Another Game We Play”, which I thought would work for some of the storyline. I recorded new extracts of that song to use in a few scenes of the film.
 
 
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