Updated September 2021 with montage of stills and video clip
One of my earliest adventures in fantasy film-making was the epic Fever, made in collaboration with my long-time buddy Phil Tuppin. It was a four-minute horror movie made with a Standard-8mm clockwork camera and entered for the BBC’s Screen Test Young Film-Makers of the Year competition. And, yes, it actually got broadcast in the Highly Commended category, although they censored the second half for fear it would “give younger viewers the heeby-jeebies”!
The key special effect in this epic is a shot of a demonic dressing gown crawling across a boy’s bedroom floor, shortly before throttling said boy (who’s lying unconscious in bed with a fever) to death. We did it using good old stop-motion animation. Each frame, I extricated myself from behind the camera, picked my way across the room without disturbing any of the artfully-arranged props, moved the gown the requisite inches, then clambered back out of shot ready for Phil to click the shutter. Our rudimentary lighting apparatus meant all this was done under the searing glare of bare 200W bulbs positioned close enough to our faces to act as sunlamps. Most of the other gown shots were puppeteered with garden canes taped into the arms.
It was all back-breaking stuff, but so rewarding to see it all come to life when we got the processed film back from Kodak a fortnight later – yes, this was pre-video and definitely pre-digital.