Film: 6655

Media | 1930 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

British film studio at Denham studios. Behind the scenes during the time 'The Four Feathers' and 'South Riding' were being filmed. Building sets. Film crews at work. Make up and costumes. Developing and editing. Extras. Location shooting.

General view of picturesque cottages by a wide street in a small rural town; a brick terrace with a deep tile roof and dormer windows is covered with creepers growing between opened white window-frames. The view moves down the street showing more similarly traditional rural town buildings; a high detached house fronted by a plush hedge, a one storey stone ecclesiastical style building and more foliage covered cottages and houses standing side by side under a rising and falling roofline. A postman cycles down the wide roadway. A sign bearing a comical owl hangs from a long wisteria covered brick frontage bearing sets of large plain sash windows, all half opened either side of a wooden doorway. The narration tells us this is Denham - fourteen miles from London - possessing probably the biggest rural station in England. We are told Denham is representative of 'the England that was and the England that happily still is'. A man in a flat cap and working clothes rides a bicycle over a stone walled hump-back bridge, behind this several dark cars are parked alongside a row of stone cottages and an Inn. Another drives down the road past grander rural houses. A river scene shows an 'unspoiled' expanse of water gleaming in shafts of sunlight, as it stretches between wooded banks edged with undergrowth and overhanging branches. A broad meadow of high grass dotted with mature trees extends to woodland behind, framed by leafy oak branches. The view sweeps round the meadow.

A shot shows cranes against the sky above scaffolding on which small figures of men walk. Four men wearing caps, shirt-sleeves rolled to the elbow under suit waistcoats, climb a high criss-crossed metal frame against a pale sky using no safety equipment. A large slab is hauled up to the top of scaffolding attended by two workers. The narration tells us that the film shows the construction of a 'modern film studio'. The large metal frame of a building, stands hollow but roofed in the foreground, behind it a huge construction stands under scaffolding while a row of four men in working clothes walk towards the screen, carrying a long piece of piping on their shoulders. The narration lists the trades involved in building the studio. Working men in dark clothes and flat caps, walk along a wide pathway, hands in pockets. The path runs by vast partly completed studios, shrouded in scaffolding. One worker in the foreground runs down the path turning to look behind him. Framed by trees mountains of building materials and rubble stand in front of the square skeleton of a high broad building, on which men stand and work. The narration tells us the work is for London Film Production. A fluffy clouded sky sets off a scene of great monolithic constructions which border onto grassy fields in the foreground across which a herd of cows stroll. Edging the studio site are three great white facades marked clearly in turn: 'London', 'Film', 'Production'. Lorries are parked up to the farmland's fence. A grass edged road runs in front of a low modern building which rises to two storeys at its bow-fronted centre, while a flag flutters on a high pole. The view travels to the right along the flat roofed construction which bears a long row of functional windows. A car drives along the road. We travel further down the building, past the plinths labelled 'London Film Production'. A black car shoots across the picture. The narration lists some films made there. Two trucks cross the screen as we finish panning along the length of the building. Set back now, vans drive along the road in front of the flag flanked studio buildings. An aerial view shows cars parked along a neatly laid out road edged with lawns, running in front of the long low buildings. In the background the 'London Film Productions' signs tower. The buildings are very light in colour and smooth and simple in design and finish. Two smartly-suited men walk purposefully towards one of the entrances. A hazy view shows the studios in the background behind fields and a road along which two cars drive. A steam engine travels under an old arched stone bridge, billowing smoke and pulling carriages. A dark sign bears in large white lettering: 'Denham for Harefield Junction for Uxbridge'. A train pulls into a small station, with a wide planked platform on which two railway workers stand under a decoratively edged roof canopy. In the foreground placards are attached to railings. The narration tells us that a new activity and importance has been brought to Denham by the film industry. The carriage doors open and smartly attired men and women pile from the train. One man in the foreground without a hat has a cigarette in his mouth, several carry small cases and umbrellas or sticks. The majority of both men and women wear hats. A shot shows a grass verged pathway beside a road disappearing into the distance.

A stream of men and women, the studio employees, walk along the path. We are told hundreds travel down to work from London every day. All are smartly attired, but clothes vary on the men from light loose suits to dark suits with top hats and spats. The women wear skirt suits or pale dresses and darker coats. A huddled queue of men stands on a grass verge while cars and trucks run on a road in the background. The men, most of whom carry small cases are a cross section of ages and are dressed in a variety of styles from well worn light suits with cloth caps to well cut dark suits with white shirt and tie and trilby hat. A uniformed man stands watching in the road beside them. The shot pans along the queue. A group of men and a boy stand in the foreground, two smartly dressed in dark suits, shirt and tie, one carrying a briefcase talk together watched by one hatless man with a baggily fitting jacket and contrasting trousers and another in working clothes and cap. Half way along the queue we see the female workers, all are dressed smartly in dresses and coats or suits and heeled shoes. Almost all wear hats and carry small bags. The queue is ushered by a man in uniform and winds past a small hut for registering in, before the workers walk into the studio grounds towards the new buildings in the background. The narration tells us that the workers range from carpenters to typists. A shot shows men and women clustered around a woman sitting at a wooden desk on the road sorting papers. A man wearing light high-waisted trousers, dark jacket, shirt, wide tie and cloth cap walks across the picture carrying a small case. In the foreground two suited men stand either side of a man in dark uniform, by wrought iron gates bearing the studio name. A line of men put their cards through a clocking in system, they wear smart but casual suits with shirts, most with ties but some open at the neck, one wears a flat cap. A close-up shows the men punching their cards in the clocking- in machine, the clock shows 8.30. A view of a small hut by wrought iron gates shows a pretty young woman in a tight short-sleeved sweater watching a uniformed security man walk past. In one side of the open doored hut a black-suited man leans over papers behind a hatch. On the other side a woman in a checked coat with hat and bag heads a queue of extras or 'crowd artists' filtering past him. Workers pass through the studio's entrance system by open gates, through which cars pass, around them men and women (some in costume) stand and talk in groups on the pavements and verge. A motorbus is pulled up on the road behind. The narration tells us a number of employees have cars. A shot shows a wide packed car park with a variety of styles of car; some with soft tops, some in lighter colours, parked in many neat rows. Extras walk on a road in which a motorbus is parked. A group of uniformed women walk on the left of the screen, most wear long dark double-breasted coats with high collars, small dark hats and dark shoes and stockings and carry small cases. A few are more obviously 'nurses' - wearing white head scarves and white tabards marked with a clear cross. By them a trail of 'boy scouts' weave around a worker on a bicycle.

More women crowd artists filter past a checking in table. The women's clothes are mostly fairly smart and fashionable, but differ in their elegance and wear. A tall older woman stands at the front of a line of extras next to an extremely elegant young woman who wears a fitted tweed suit under a long pale cape., with dark gloves and hat. She holds a slim cigarette. The women watch a dark haired young man in a pale suit who sits at a desk and processes work vouchers and pay slips. The elegant young woman remains standing by the table while the other women pass her. Men hurriedly put their cards through the clocking in machine, now reading 8.35. One short man in a large cap smokes while he punches his card, another bulkier man in a cap, worn-in suit and cricket jumper, comedically pops his card out of the machine in his haste. Behind the a counter in the wardrobe department two young men standing by a rack of jackets, pass clothes over the counter to a mass of actors. A little girl stands watching them. A shot shows a young man in white shirt and tie under a dark suit waistcoat, sleeves rolled to the elbow, handing out stiff collars to older men in an array of outfits from suits and trilbies to top hat, wing collar and evening jacket. In the make-up department a young man sits reclining on a barbers-style chair, bibbed in white, while another man wearing a white tunic dabs a substance from his hands around the seated man's eyes. Three well dressed young women with perfectly groomed hair, sit around a table in a room lined with small doors, shelving and store boxes. The women are occupied in wig making, they work on the wigs on dummy heads on the table. Two women in dainty overalls attend the hair of two ladies who are positioned beside each other in front of wall mounted mirrors, lined with bottles of beauty products. One has her hair rinsed using a shower head while the other's short locks are combed out, observed by a man in a white tunic. We see a back view of the hairdresser styling the glamorous young woman's neck length hair, and their reflection in the mirror. A woman wearing a hair net sits under a helmet-style dryer, she breathes out and raises her eyes.

In the studio's workshop a line of men stand operating machinery (lathes?) which run using bands suspended from overhead. A shot of a workshop in front of a wall of windows shows wooden models of vehicles (particularly planes) being crafted at workbenches by a team of men. The workshop has a gallery running on the wall above its windows, and bears a no smoking sign. A man in overalls over a well worn shirt and tie operates a lathe, in front of another worker with a pencil behind his ear. More shots of craftsmen working on scenery show a number of men working on sculptures, paintings and designs, in a self-styles studio within the workshops. The men wear light coloured artist's overalls or shirts and braces. Men in dungarees and overalls slop plaster onto an arced structure in a crowded corner. A busy scene inside the studios shows 'master carpenters' working to construct a set. The men look fit and are generally young and slim. One man carries a large 'iron' gate across the scene, while in the background a man in a suit wanders between the workers. Outside planks and palettes are piled up in a wood yard - men work on and around them. Some pieces are placed on an uphill conveyer belt leading to a funnelled chimney. A stately home is glimpsed through trees, while in the foreground set builders work around the edge of an ornamental lake adorned with a classical folly. An aerial view scans a large expanse of outdoor sets, all facades; ranging from Islamic turreted quadrants to city streets, classical pillared halls and battleships, all set in open fields. A horse munches behind a facade, another wanders by the side of a grass bound galleon. A shot pans from woodland to the scaffolding backs of outside sets. On a station set the shell of a train stands on tracks running before the facade of classical style station buildings. From another angle the mock station shows a steam engine in front of a row of fake goods carriages.

On a set a shirtless man with a pen behind his ear stands scratching his back in front of the windows of a neo-classical building, while a man in dark trousers and a casual short-sleeved shirt sits on a stool and operates a film camera, shaded by a white umbrella. Between them a woman sits wearing a white shirt under a cross-backed pinafore. She holds a clipboard while speaking and gesturing to the cameraman. A wider shot shows more filming and lighting equipment on the same set; actors and film crew are grouped around it. In front of a backdrop of trees are parked a small and large van - both marked London Film. A man sits in a director's chair reading beside the vans, another carries a bulky piece of equipment to the van, while a woman strolls past girls sitting on the grass. In front of a stately home covered in creepers (the set for South Riding) gather actors on horseback, dressed for the hunt. Around them are groups of casually dressed men positioned on and around steps, ladders and director's chairs. In the foreground a man, hands behind his back, stands in hat and casual suit by a London Film van. A shot of extras for a hunt scene in front of the house are seen through scaffolding. Framed by foliage the cast mill on the set in the background while in front of them men and women sit on cases and director's chairs around a cluster of small tables by lighting equipment. The hunt cast gather watched by film crew.

A 'unit' is gathered on the eastern-style set of a film to be made in Technicolor. The set arcs round behind technical equipment, while Indian costumed extras mass in the centre and are filmed by a camera raising above the crowd on a moving arm. The crowd masses, technical crew operate equipment and suited men stand and watch thoughtfully. The camera dominates the screen. Against the backdrop of the set's rubbly wall men stand around a camera, three operating it, one smoking in the foreground. One resting his hand on another's shoulder indicates in the direction of a man operating a clapper board. Against a skyline of sets extras mill around white boxes piled to head height on wooden frames. A man hands the white boxed lunches over a wooden barrier to a line of cloth hatted 'brownies'. The small girls sit picturesquely on the grass and packing boxes eagerly eating large buns from the white boxes which fill their laps. A girl in the foreground fights her way into a banana while another spreads something onto her bread with a stick. Inside the basic, gingham-curtained studio men's canteen the crew sit casually at long tables, eating and talking, in an array of working clothes. The men queue past the food counter talking and laughing, served by a man in white kitchen overalls. In the cafeteria for female and office staff, glamorous scantily clad young women in heeled shoes, playsuits and bra tops and hot pants, glide trays around a curved serving counter, behind which a woman in a novelty chef's hat and white overalls serves from behind cups and water heaters. Fashionably dressed women and young men in smart dark suits eat at small tables. Four glamorous girls with perfectly coiffured hair sit at a table for six. Three eat and chat while the fourth, closest to us lounges with her bare leg rested on the seat beside her while drinking milk from a bottle through a straw. All laugh and smile. A blonde girl in a loose short-sleeved blouse leans over the table to drink her milk. Novelty shots show a middle-aged man in work clothes gulping beer from a pint glass spilling it down his mouth. Below a 'no parking' sign five beauties sit leaning against a wall in a row. One smokes, one rests her head on a friends shoulder, another shelters from the sun under a newspaper. All wear matching chorus-girl dresses.

A view inside a machinery room shows huge generator engines, patrolled purposefully by men in suits. The machines are shown in close-up. Banks of dials and switches form walls either side of a man seated on a swivel chair. A young man watches engines working through a window from beyond a bank of dials. An engine spins. A man attends a wall of dials. He lifts a lever. Inside the studio a set is seen behind a bank of lighting and equipment. It is cleaned and cleared by a group of men. A man operating a camera, wearing a smart baggy double breasted suit, is raised up with the camera on a moveable arm. A microphone swings out on a thin pole towards the screen. Silhouettes of the film crew are outlined against a pale set on which girls in black tutus dance with men in shiny military-esque costumes. The camera swings across the picture. The dancers are shot from a different angle. Troops of extras march on to stage past a cheering crowd below lights and equipment. The shot pans to show the crew behind the cameras as well. The World War One march on elatedly across the set, waving flags and cheering, round a mounted policemen and a Hanson carriage.

Outside a modern white two and three storey building with rows of large simple windows, men walk to parked cars. Inside the laboratory two men in white coats check a head high bank of developing equipment. More of the equipment is shown. a hand adjusts a lever securing a spool of film. A young man in a white coat carries a pile of tins into the cutting room. The wide open room is edged with tables piles high with film tins, in its centre lit by large windows on the far wall, women work standing and sitting around small cutting tables, wearing white lab coats. The man places his pile of tins on a shelf above the cutters. Two women are shown working opposite each other at a cutting table. A rack of film is pulled through the editing room in which two men work, one standing, one sitting. Both operate editing equipment wearing white gloves. A young film editor wearing glasses bends studying the film running before him, periodically marking it. Another young man feeds film through the equipment. A hand turns a mounted spool.

We return to the rural street scene, where black cars drive round a lane in front of foliage covered cottages. Cars drive away from us over a hump backed bridge. A group of four ponies and riders cross the street past parked cars in front of cottages.


To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 6655.