We are really excited to bring you our latest Down on the Farm update. It's been great to see our former work experience student Curtis and film making mentee Jo getting out in the field alongside our commissioned film makers. We're looking forward to seeing the footage of North Devon's Biosphere Reserve and North Devon Coast AONB from the air and can you spot Fullabrook Windfarm in Linda's photos? (thanks to all three of these organisations for their help in funding this project)
I’ve had the pleasure of being back on the farm twice since my last update, I went back just for a day in May when the younger cattle were first released into the field. I was greeted with glorious sunshine again on this day! It was so charming to see the young cattle running through the fields and eating grass for the first time! It took the cattle a while to begin eating; there was lots of running around the field first. A few of the smaller ones stayed close by Rose for a bit. Trying to get that shot of them first running as released proved to be a bit too difficult as I wasn’t able to move fast enough from the gate, they had already run off. But I did capture lots of lovely moments as the cattle were first eating the grass and my hair. Rose and Freddy were both beaming and love this part of the journey! I found out the older cattle had passed their TB tests and half had now been sold.
I returned for my scheduled third visit at the end of June, again the weather was stunning, three days of beautiful sunshine. After a few strokes and tummy tickles with Bailey (dog), Rose and I walked to see the cattle in the top fields. The younger cattle had been moved from another field, as there wasn’t enough grass for them; they were happily settled into outdoor life. As Rose and I approached the familiar scene of them greeting us was lovely, they all looked so beautiful and had grown!
Since the cattle had been released Rose and Freddy had more time and even enjoy a few days out for walks locally. Freddy was away for the three days cutting grass for a nearby farm and I only saw him briefly. Rose was speaking about the next lot of calves that they get and the age of them, this was still under discussion, as those early months and feeding routines are very strenuous on the body. I also had Jo Ryan join me to gain further experience in documentary filmmaking. On both evenings I went back to film and photograph the sun setting, just so beautiful to see the cattle in this glorious light. I’m looking forward to my last visit in September; always enjoy being on the farm and seeing Rose and Freddy.
HOLLY & JO
Since our last Down The Farm update we’ve spent a meeting on another farm - this time in another part of Devon, planning and preparing for the shoot this month and discussing how to visually present some of the themes we’re looking at in this piece.
We have booked in time with Torridge District Council to use their drone for some particular shots and we’re gathering the equipment we need to capture the feeling and tone that we want to represent Liv and Henry at Down Farm.
We are in the process of deciding on the composer (we’re looking at a female Somerset based artist who is also a farmer!), and we’re looking forward to beginning production and to explore farming and the impact it has had on Liv and Henry’s lives with them.
Lambing Season is over! All the hard work by the Balsdon family has paid off and has led to a successful season on the whole.
During the Months of April, May and July I documented how we relocate the sheep to the neighbouring fields, the caring of the various tame lambs that we had down the farm and also, whilst she was down from Colchester, my sister Stacey's involvement on the farm.
With Stacey being down I got to film one shift on the farm which was worked by Mel, Lola and Stacey and this was such a perfect demonstration of the work the women of Reed Farm put in!
The focus on the tame lambs was quite exciting as I got to see them grow from little tiny lambs who were fed by milk bottles to bigger lambs that are nearly ready to leave the farm.
Once again Lola decided to lend a hand in caring for the lambs and this gave me a chance to see the interactions between my mum and Lola and I interviewed Mum to get her opinion on her granddaughter's interest in the farm.
With the final footage collected the editing process can now begin and all the hours of film must now be condensed into one 5 minute piece of film. The work will be hard but I have complete faith that the finished product will be of the highest standard.
You can get a sneak peek at some of Michael's Down on the Farm footage on his blog here: https://michaelbalsdon.wixsite.com/website/blog/july-5th-update
Since the last update, we have made considerable advancements in production. We have now all but finished the production phase of the film, having spent time on location working with our contributor Wayne Copp, on his farm in North Devon.
The main production phase was shot over the May bank holiday weekend. Originally we were due to start production on Friday 25th May 2019, but while travelling to Wayne’s farm for the first day of production, I blew out a tyre on my car, literally 30 minutes away from the location. After replacing the tyre, we were unable to complete any shooting that day, so I had to limp home on my spare but Curtis, our drone pilot, was still able to carry on and grab us coastal shots that we are hoping to use as opening scenes and title sequence.
We began by shooting Wayne at work and took some amazing shots of Wayne’s farm, cows and crops. It was amazing to see Wayne and his herd in action. Wayne pastures his cattle on the North Devon coast, so we were able to grab some amazing shots of the herd grazing, and also recorded some lovely shots of Wayne chatting to his cows and generally showing the bond that he shares with them. Again, Curtis had his drone airborne, this time focusing on aerial shots of Wayne driving around the farm in his 4x4, the farm from above and the cattle. We ended the day by shooting our master interview, which consisted of a two camera shoot, with Wayne stood next to a distinctive, old and battered plough.
The interview covered all of our main topics which include the Copp family history, Wayne’s farming methods and ethos, techniques in farming that Wayne’s predecessors employed and the turmoil of Brexit and its effects on farmers and consumers in the near future.
The next day we traveled back to the farm for the second full day of production. The second day started with a pick up for our master interview. I wanted to ensure that we had covered the main points of our narrative extensively, so we shot a series of quick fire questions and answers, mainly to help with the edit. We shot in the same location, again with two cameras and ensured that Wayne wore the same clothes as the previous day in an effort to help with continuity.
Once the interview was done, we moved on to once again get shots of Wayne in action. This time we were able to grab some amazing shots of Wayne driving his tractor, loading trailers with manure (the smell was incredibly strong!) and once again working with his cattle. We captured this from both the ground and the air, and I was able to take some amazing slow mo shots (120fps) that look amazing. Wayne took us to a second location where his cows graze, and gave me permission to stay behind after we had finished shooting his contributions. This gave me a really unique opportunity to get up and close with his cattle. At first the cows were extremely wary of me and my camera and didn’t really like me being there without Wayne. But after a while they started to open up and accept me. They then started showing off and played up to the camera and I was able to get some amazing shots of them walking up to and investigating me. I got a glimpse of their personalities, which was something that Wayne kept commenting on. He kept saying that the cows are full of character and I truly got a sense of that.
Not wanting to outstay my welcome, after all I stayed with them for nearly 2 hours, I thanked them for their contribution, got back in the car and drove away having wrapped on our 2nd and final day of production.
I can honestly say, Wayne’s farm truly captured my imagination and Wayne and his cows definitely made us feel welcome. I can't state my admiration enough for Wayne and his work, he truly is a decent and hard working chap and it has been an absolute pleasure working with him.
So with production pretty much finished, I have firmly moved into post production and editing tasks have now begun. Making this film has been an amazing experience so far, and I’m expecting that to continue all the way until we premiere the film in November 2019.
Keep up to date with all the latest news from NDMI Creative Director Amanda McCormack.
North Devon Moving Image CIC
Gareth Alvarez, Director
North Devon Moving Image CIC is a Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee
Community Interest Company No. 8737215
Our friends and supporters ...