Explanatory notes for the promotional film short
This film short was created specifically to promote our book and with the intent of making our book’s website, which is also our shop window, as interesting as possible for those that visit. The filming method was inspired by some ‘slow television’ I had watched on BBC4 during the summer. A brilliant piece of film-making in which the director cuts from static camera positions and the action moves into and happens within the frame. There was a certain visual and pacing similarity I thought between this style of film-making and video’s created at crime scenes, where ‘settlement times’ are long and the pace, by necessity has to be slow. In the interests of adding tension and drama, at the storyboard stage, I decided to leave periods of black screen with only sound effects or nothing at all between shots. I thought this would up the spook factor considerably and I think its worked quite nicely judging from the feedback I've had so far.
The film begins with a murmuration of Starlings that was shot from my landing window. The camera was left running for about 20mins and I crossed everything I could in the hope that our feathered friends would do their dance in the sky in front of a very long lens possessing a very narrow field of view. The little darlings suitably obliged and were motivated in the latter part of this 30-second segment by a Buzzard looking for a spot of lunch. This gorgeous hunting bird, of course, was instantly imbued with metaphoric meaning. He’s clearly seen at the end of the shot on the left of the frame rising up and out of it. This opening shot sets the slow pace to follow.
From our avian chums, I then cut to a time-lapse of the sun sinking in the sky towards the Hall. The sound effect here is of the howling wind. The Hook really has a very haunting landscape and the sound of the wind is for most of the year pretty constant. The way these sounds reverberate around the Hall interior (and in my own house for that matter) are really something else and I can well imagine what it must have been like for a heartbroken Anne Tottenham living in the older building on one of the many stormy winter nights.
We then hit the first dark frame and hear a creepy voice talking about keeping a secret. Loftus Hall is a repository of mystery and untold events. The section of floor that the drone (Lucifer - kindly supplied by Aidan Quigley) is flying over is full of meaning which Helena B. has researched at length and explores in Chapter 11 of the book, Occult Truths. This little segment was a bit of a challenge to shoot, I had planned to use the drone to film from a perfectly aligned centre above the floor and have the floor pattern rotate evenly around this central point. It didn't work out this way however, Lucifer kind of did his own thing. I suspect disabling his sensors might have been the thing to do, but it was terrifying enough using a drone inside as it was, without adding to my stress levels. I shot with the drone lights on and off, in the end, I preferred the footage with the lights on.
A short dark frame takes us to the Chapel in Loftus Hall. This room would have originally been a reception/ballroom but was used as a Chapel by the nuns who took over the Hall in 1917 so that locals could attend mass. This is very cold room and with its dark wood panel ceiling really does give you the shivers. The soundtrack for this segment is a christening being performed in Latin. Helena B. suggested reversing the soundtrack, we’ve her to blame for that one! We then hear only a beating heart in the darkness. The next shot is the fireplace in the tapestry room where the remains of an infant were found by builders during the renovations carried out in 1871 when the old building was being turned into the present Loftus Hall. This heartbeat slows and stops as a light makes its short journey across the bottom of a mirror in the top of the frame.
A brief interlude of complete silence before I take the camera to the Drawing Room. This is a very simple shot with the only real interest other than the music being the dancing candle flame. From the Drawing room, we then go upstairs for the next shot to the ‘devils room’. This 1st-floor bedroom, I suspect, would have been for the head of the house or his wife, it’s of very grand proportions with views across the deer park towards the lighthouse and to the right you can see Waterford estuary. In the clip, the lighthouse can be seen flashing every 3 seconds on the horizon frame right. The dead bird on the windowsill presumably became trapped in the room and expired there. A bit of an obvious analogy but I think effective. The sound of dogs barking are representative of the Black Hounds of Hell which Helena B. suggests are guardians of the Hall’s secrets and the hounds that would have worked the deer hunt; the ticking clock/music box hint at the slow passage of time and thoughts of children.
The shot of the stairs from above wasn't the easiest thing to do. It involved launching Lucifer up into the glass lantern that illuminates the staircase. It’s fair to say I was quietly bricking it whilst the drone was in flight. The last thing in the world I wanted was an expensive piece of kit, which isn’t mine, falling from 30 feet or so onto a priceless staircase! There’s then a dramatic thunder roll as the rain falls and Anne walks from the first floor to the tapestry room. This is the spectral journey she makes every night.
The final segment which is a prolonged black frame contains the soundtrack of a woman sobbing, this sound effect was suggested by Helena at one of our many project meetings as this is how she perceived Anne’s pain and suffering. There’s a desperation in her voice which combined with the way she’s struggling to catch her breath, I found quite upsetting when I first dropped the sound file in. I honestly didn't know if I was going too far but there’s no point in shying away from the utter despair that Anne must have felt. The end of this short film has Helena B’s inspired words on Anne -
She walks in shadows A spirit among the living A mortal of the Otherworld A prisoner of hope Whose cries become a silent song.
I would like to say a big thank you to the following - Aidan Quigley for his conceptual support for this mini project, allowing unlimited access to the Hall and the use of Lucifer the drone. Shane Quigley for access to the Hall and assistance with filming. Helena B Scott for sound file suggestions and conceptual support. Carol Tubrid for playing Anne on a freezing cold day in a decidedly uncomfortable costume.
If you can, watch the movie with good sound (headphones perhaps) and in near darkness.