Halloween 2010 - Filming 'Blair Witch' Style Teaser Trailers

Halloween - Filming 'Blair Witch' Style Teaser Trailers

"There's many things, dangerous things, out there, on the moor. Don't disrespect the land, and you should be alright" - Advice from a moorland farmer, at night, on Bodmin Moor.

"Something a bit different, maybe live action" was the request, from Shadow Tor Studios, when discussing ideas for the Bracken Tor teaser trailers. Hurrah! Different is exciting. So is taking part on a live action shoot. The usual gameplay videos and screenshots would promote the new adventure, upon release, but 'something a bit different' would break the mould a little, and certainly be exciting to make. Filming, after dark, out on the moor, Blair Witch style! Here's the story…

The Plan - To film three teaser trailers for the new supernatural thriller Bracken Tor - The Time of Tooth and Claw. Each teaser would follow a particular character, on the night of the Winter Solstice -

The Hiker - A un-named man has lost his way, while trying to cross the moor. The plan was to find the ancient burial chamber, hidden beneath Bracken Tor. He had been told, many times, by local people not to attempt such a foolhardy mission, but he chose to ignore the warnings. The Hiker is not all he seems; he knows more about the Tor than he has let on. He believes he can gain access to the tomb, to rob the place of its treasures. Something he will soon regret.

Even the trusty compass can't help us on Bodmin Moor

The DJ - DJ Emma Harry is a kooky kind of girl. Living and broadcasting from the swamps of Barrow Moor, Emma has a deep fascination (obsession!) with the supernatural and strange. Something happened to Emma, back in '06. She experienced something bizarre…something ancient and powerful. The event changed her. She knows that the landscape hides all manner of strange phenomena, writing about much of it in her magazine, the Freaky Times. But, will Emma's fascination be her undoing?

The Archaeologist - Agatha Dunn-Harker was the only person to attempt an archaeological excavation at Bracken Tor, I say 'was' because she disappeared on the Winter Solstice, back in 1965. Broadcasting live on the BBC, Agatha was about to open the heavy stone door when the radio signal was lost, and she was never seen again. But, someone has never given up on Agatha, believing that her fate may still be learnt, if they dig deeper, and uncover the truth.

----- / /-----

The Shoot - A diary of spooky events.

21:00 - Lost, cold, and worried! The moor is up to its usual tricks again. No matter how much we'd planned, and no matter how many maps we've bought, the moor still manages to confuse the hell out of our driver, leaving us stranded in a tiny one-way lane, leading further and further into darkness. Driving slowly, very slowly, across the moor is an eerie experience. The land seems endless, desolate and moody. The minibus headlights occasionally pick out glowing eyes, in the darkness. There are wild ponies on the moor, as well as some hardy breeds of sheep. We have to take great care, orientating these ancient tracks, for fear of hitting something huge, heavy and wild.

21:15 - Something dashes across the road. Something big, and fast. A deer? The atmosphere on the bus has turned chilly. The cast, including myself, have stopped wittering on about the script, and the night ahead. We have all gone rather quiet. I am wondering if this nocturnal adventure is such a good idea? There really are abandoned old mines, scarring the moor. Some are hundreds of years old, from when Cornish Tin was in great demand. Even biblical characters, such as Jospeh of Arimathea, are said to have ventured onto the moor.

"According to legend, Joseph of Arimathea had a financial stake in the Cornish tin mines, and may even have taken his nephew Jesus there on his merchant travels during the boyhood of Jesus. However, after the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea traveled to Britain one last time, to preach and even settle." - http://www.interfaith.org/articles/joseph_of_arimathea.php

I wonder what Jesus made of the moor?

21:30 - Still lost! This is getting ridiculous. Lorna, our sound recordist, suggests we may be going round in circles. Great! Personally, I think she's mistaking one gorse bush for another…until…"Look! Even the road signs are lost!" she points out. We've stopped to take a photo of the bonkers looking sign, when we hear something call out, from across the landscape.

No wonder we are lost! The moorland people are messing with our heads, and nerves!

It sounds like an animal, something large like a horse; a sad baying cry, which seems to fill the air with dread. I am reminded of that scene, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, when Stapleton describes the Grimpen Mire -

-------- / From The Hound of the Baskervilles / --------

“That is the great Grimpen Mire,” said he. “A false step yonder means death to man or beast. Only yesterday I saw one of the moor ponies wander into it. He never came out. I saw his head for quite a long time craning out of the bog-hole, but it sucked him down at last."

Watson and Stapleton explore Dartmoor, taking in the Grimpen Mire

Something brown was rolling and tossing among the green sedges. Then a long, agonized, writhing neck shot upward and a dreadful cry echoed over the moor. It turned me cold with horror, but my companion’s nerves seemed to be stronger than mine. “It’s gone!” said he. “The mire has him.”

-------- / End / --------

21:45 - A man! A farmer, is standing in the middle of the lane. It's impossible to pass him, without forcing him from the road, so Steve (our driver, and lead member of the MBRG) leaves the vehicle and approaches the man. A short exchange of words follows, and then we are off again. The farmer seems to glare at us, as we pass. "He says we'll come out by Minions on this route" says Steve, "Which is perfect for parking and getting the scenes we want".

Hurrah! What a nice old farmer. He's not an evil, cannibalistic moor-beast.

"He says the pub is still open too" continues Steve, "if anyone needs a bit of actors courage". I do actually fancy a gin, to get ready for the shoot, but we all agree it could be a bit like that pub in An American Werewolf in London. You know the one, the two hikers enter The Slaughtered Lamb. The 'locals' all go quiet, and stare. Eventually the two hiking buddies leave… to get ravaged on the moor, by a werebeast. Cripes! I am playing the character called The Hiker. Is this trip such a good idea? When does excitement turn into tension?

The all-important script...try reading it in the dark!

22:00 - Filming, at last! We have split into two units. My group, Unit A, will be filming The Hiker, and recording the vocals for that film, and The DJ. The other team (Unit B) is setting up a very Blair-Witchy scene in a nearby pine woods. I don't envy them. Matt has made some seriously cool looking twig effigies, to hang in the braches and look pretty damn spooky. The props looked quite harmless, even comical, back at base…but now…? They seem pagan, powerful and full of meaning. I begin to suspect our activities may stir up some genuine chills.

22:15 -
I've fallen down a hole. Just as I realised that my foot was not meeting the expected turf (like missing that last step on the stairs) I thought about the mine shafts. A fall down one of those dark pits would mean certain death. Thankfully, my pit is only half a metre deep, so no broken bones…just a muddy, and sore bottom! The event has left me shaken, so my film footage should be genuinely wobbly. Just what we need!

Getting direction from Matt Clark, writer and creator of Bracken Tor.

22:30 - It's time to film the sequence. The plan is to leave the open moor, and enter a small copse, or woodland. We can see one, not too far away from the standing stones, known as The Hurlers. It's not as dark, or as dense as we would have liked, but the twisted branches should look cool, in the glow of the night-vision. I'll be doing this on my own, so that none of the crew gets in shot. A rough path leads through the copse, which I'll try to follow as best as possible. I don't really want to get lost on the moor. The crew hang back, as I prepare to venture in.

Bizarre woodland shapes in Nite-Vision

Silence. Ok. Lens cap off. Power on. Film is running. Let's go.
Suddenly the world is green tinted, and uncanny. Shapes loom up out of the darkness, twisted and covered in lichen. It looks more like a swamp! It's actually surprisingly weird. Night-vision is supposed to aid nocturnal sight, but I think it does the opposite. You can only see a small square in front of you, bright and green. It's quite blinding. It also means my natural night sight, which had adjusted in the gloom, has been ruined. I can't see a bloody thing!

The script

22:40 Approx - I do genuinely feel quite lost. I call out, quietly, to the others to make sure they are still there. Knowing that others are around you, close but out of sight, is quite unnerving. There's no reply, so I carry on my journey. I seem to be approaching a water source, like a stream or spring. That means the land could be quite boggy. My mind returns to the Grimpen Mire, and that poor moorland pony. The agonized, dreadful cry….

…what the hell am I doing? I am really quite spooked. That's when I heard the scream!

Dozmary Pool

23:00 - Whadda girl! Unit B have just recoded our scream queen, in her last dying moments. It's a really strange thing to hear. The sound echoes across the landscape, for miles, and miles, and miles. I wonder if the moorland farmer heard it? He could call the police! We could get into trouble. Imagine explaining what we are up to; making a film about the Beast of Barrow Moor, a fictitious (I hope!) creature that stalks lonely walkers, and rips cattle to shreds. I think we would be asked to leave, go home, and stop playing silly games. Silly?! It's downright frightening. So, maybe the presence of the police may not be such a bad thing. A bit of security. Oh shush, Jonathan! This was your idea. Just get the footage you need, and get out of this god forsaken place.

23:15 -
It's time for the monster. Yup, we have a monster. All claws, teeth and feral eyes. During the day these things look quite…errr…daft, if I am honest. You're painting away, sticking on bits of gunk and ragged hair, chatting away and not really giving the night shoot that much thought. Silly us. In the dark, the mask and other props feel really horrible. The long hair is especially weird. Lank, dark and a bit Samara-like (The Ring movies). I won't say who is playing The Monster, as it might destroy the illusion. But, let me say that it's only right HE should don this costume, given that its HIS game. Ha! Once finished, we'll be filming the monster amongst the trees. I am hoping for some scenes like those from the Warning to the Curious movie, from the 1970's. The ghost of William Ager is glimpsed, briefly, in certain woodland scenes, his white face barely visible in the gloom. If I capture some footage as good as those old BBC scenes, I will be a very happy man!

The Beast of Barrow Moor?

23:30 - The Teeth. It's close-up time for The Monster, as we prepare to film the fangs of our feral creature. The moor is still adding a wonderful hushed atmosphere to the proceedings, as Unit B rejoin us. They are more than pleased with the twig sculptures, filmed in the pine woods. Lorna tells me that she felt quite spiritual, in a wiccan kind of way, whilst hanging the effigies on the twigs. I never had Lorna down as a wiccan, but perhaps this night on the moor will change us all, in some specific way. I, for one, am having a brilliant time.

Good'ol Nite-Vision cameras - famous for ghost-hunting.

The nerves have subsided a little, and things feel really fun, and genuinely interesting.

Midnight - We're all done. Matt pops the cork on a bottle of cheep, but cheerful, Cava, and we all get a bit tiddly. All except Steve, who's driving. Much is said about how the 'real' moorland setting has influenced tonight's work. It's been great to really utilise this fabulous place. You could say it's the biggest star…sorry Monster!...acting like some sort of muse. I just hope our hard work comes across, and feels fun to those watching the films, whenever they are published.

Matt Clark at The Hurlers Stone Circle.

If you can travel to the moor, whether it be Dartmoor, Bodmin or Yorkshire, I highly recommend the experience. You get a sense of smallness and frailty in places like these. The timeless quality is uncanny, unnerving and humbling. Like a few months ago, doing the Beast Hunt Night, I found myself wondering what sort of energies, or spirits, could wander these places? Could unexplainable creatures, or beasts, really be out there, in the darkness?

As Bracken Tor finally gears up for its big release, I must thank the moor for being such a cool setting. Matt Clark has always had a fascination with this place, visiting it many times since childhood. I love The Hound of the Baskervilles, and other gothic tales, but have never really ventured out to discover a more personal experience. Bracken Tor has provided an opportunity to 'get out there', with a purpose, and soak up some of the atmosphere. And, what an atmosphere it is!

Click to enlarge The Freaky Times.

Just in time for Halloween, I thought I'd share this magazine cover with you all.

Click to enlarge the picture.

It's something I put together a few days ago. It's The Freaky Times (a little nod to The Fortean Times), which features in the game. DJ Emma Harry is the editor, inviting strange stories from all over the world. In December, The Beast of Barrow Moor is the cover star, hinting at what sort of 'creature' lurks on the Barrow Moor. But, check out some of the side stories too, for clues about the up-coming game. The Legend of the Green Man? Bracken Tor Cult? The Dark Path? Hmm, that all sound very interesting.

Moor (sic) soon.


P.s. If any of this blog entry has got you interested in the moor, check out this website for some cool pics of standing stones, old farmhouses and ancient burial sites. http://www.oliverscornwall.co.uk/bodminmoor.html


James CW said…
Ooooh, haunting! Just watched The Hiker. Genuinly frighting. Emma's scream in the "the DJ" isn't terminus, is it?! Surely she has more to tell, then just act in a teaser?!
And I want one of those masks. Really do.

-James CW
Jonathan Boakes said…
Kill off Emma? There's a thought. But no, I think Matt needs her for the other games. Plus, I think she's indestrucable. She can beat away all the nasties, with a swish of her Converse Allstars. :)
TJ said…
Now, I think I will change my vacation-favorite destination from Ireland to Cornwall. Maybe next year? Hmm, we'll see.
If things went right I just hope the pound price drops down a bit lol!
Jonathan Boakes said…
Second teaser, The DJ, is now up! http://www.youtube.com/shadowtorstudios  
Marcin said…
Creepy story. I am waiting impatiently for the game! ;)
Thomas said…
Dear John,

may i ask how long we´ve to wait until The Last Crown comes out? I can´t wait :D

Take care and keep it up,
Thomas (from Germany)
Jonathan Boakes said…
Hi Thomas,

The Spring, I hope! 2010 became a lot more busy than I would have liked, but I would rather get the sequel right, than rush something out.

Tom baynham said…
Another cool video and interesting blog post! Have you considered doing a short film?
Anonymous said…
Really good teaser trailer there Jonathan, any teasers in the pipeline for last crown?

Martin - North Wales
Duffy said…
Nice artwork! Creepy anthropomorphic tree silhouette for the win!
Jonathan Boakes said…
Hi Martin,

absolutely! I think I'll update the website first, to include some new content, and an update about ETA's.

Also, thanks Duffy! It was fun to create. :)