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  • Writer's picturePeter Howarth

In the Woods with Keith Partridge

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Tuesday the 13th of October a day I have been looking forward to since I was introduced to Keith Partridge. An expert in his field this man has been pushing the limits of adventure film making for years. After a fantastic theoretical introduction to sound in film making I couldn’t wait to get in the field and put what we had learned to practice. And so when the day finally came around even the appalling autumn weather couldn’t dampen my moods.

Arriving on campus just before 9am we were briefed and split into production teams. We would be heading to Kingmoor Nature Reserve where we would meet a poet called Phil and a performing artist called Rebecca. Our task for the day was to record both audio and film of them performing poems to promote an upcoming event of theirs. To achieve this, we would be making use of some basic audio and film equipment. This had been laid out by the AV Department prior to our arrival. After a quick once over of the gear; checking for faults (none apart from a couple dead batteries), we set off.

Once at Kingmoor Nature Reserve Keith showed us what he typically carries in his camera bag. Starting with the obvious camera, tripod, microphone and moving onto to more obscure things such as spare tripod mount and disinfectant wipes. As we watched I couldn’t help but draw similarities between Keiths bottomless bag and The Doctors Tardis. After finally pulling out the last piece of gear it was time for a filming demo.

Clearly this was important!

We followed Keith through the wood looking for what was deemed an appropriate area for the film. A beautifully illuminated tree situated about four minutes along the path fit the bill perfectly, softly lit behind with a beautiful morning glowing pushing through the canopy above. Acting on auto pilot Keith asked Rebecca to lean against the tree while he positioned his camera. The resulting composition was fantastic, he then rattled through his thought process when approaching the shoot. Picking up on phrases in the poem he would reposition, using his camera work and the natural light to compliment what was being read.

Keith nailing the master wide shot.

After what can only be described as a masterclass we were sent off to try it all out ourselves. Split into two larger groups with the aim of filming our respective poet recite two poems. Our poet Phil was very accommodating even offering advice on possible angles that he thought might help the shoot. I spent most of this session on sound and must confess I found it thoroughly enjoyable. When you get it right the speech coming through your headphones is just wonderful. I do however need to work on my boom technique as I couldn’t have lasted much longer than I did.

Once we had finished recording the poems we had lunch and then moved onto our next task. Each of us had been asked to bring an item that was important to us. In our smaller production teams we would each take turns as lead camera, audio, and interviewee. This would give us a chance to practice each part of the film making process. Keiths skill at this kind of work really struck home when I got behind the camera. The fluidity with how he moves from shot to shot and the ease at which he put his subject, can only come with time. I could have happily spent the rest of the day playing around seeing what results I could achieve but unfortunately our day had come to an end. It was time to drop the gear off and head home. I left, my mind racing with ideas. I can’t wait to get out and try them.

FIlm making is heavy work...

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