It took quite some time for our third sketch show episode to come around – after finishing Episodes 1 and 2 in 2000 and early 2001 it wasn’t until around summer 2003 that Episode 3 was completed. A lot of this I can put down to the move up to 6th form education and the gradual fragmentation of our social group as people went off to university (or not) in 2002. Between completing episode 2 and starting work on episode 3 my trusty video camera died a death and so I bought a replacement 8mm camcorder. I don’t have the exact model specs to hand but I do know it was a Samsung, and the picture quality was less than stellar – everything we recorded had this sort of dirty sheen to it, no video effects required. As such, from a video quality perspective, it’s my least favourite episode of the set.
I think what ultimately resurrected the project was a number of meetings that myself and Dan had, pretty much every Friday for months. A lot of the time was spent discussing sketches, shooting behind the scenes footage and playing on the Gamecube, in particular Cel Damage and Mario Kart Double Dash. I think what ultimately resurrected the whole thing was setting up the original Village website (I still have the archive of it on my computer). Initially set up on Geocities, I later registered the blinge.com domain name and that is where the site lived until some random American chap wanted to buy it and offered a tidy sum of money – that’s a different story, however.
In December 2002 (following a successful staff meeting at which everyone turned up) Dan, Adam and myself got together to shoot a few sketches, and somehow we managed to get 8 completed. Admittedly we were still using the “point camera, press record, muck about” technique, but still pretty prolific even for us. The next batch of filming days took place on location – a Village first – whilst both Dan and myself went to Aberystwyth for a week to visit Adam and a few other school mates who had flocked en masse, not dissimilar to migrating birds, to the small Welsh university town. Subsequent filming days occurred across most of June 2003 with one more day in July 2003 to wrap the episode.
Given the rush we were in on those filming days it’s little surprise that we went and re-shot 6 sketches for the DVD set in June 2007. This included two of the “Milk” sketches that were directly inspired by the Bob Geldof 80s milk adverts. Despite the reshoots they still didn’t meet my original vision for them, but saying that I’ve no intention of revisiting them as I don’t think they’re particularly funny.
Ironically enough I don’t have too many memories from filming this episode – even more so given that the DVD set we created takes up 8 discs. Had to buy some special cases for that… So, given my currently hazy memory I’ll just run through what I can remember from the filming days and the “Behind The Scenes” footage we shot.
The first batch of sketches were shot on 30 December 2002 – these included the 3 “Milk” sketches – filmed in and around my house and very briefly in the Arrow Valley Park just up the road. Nothing too substantial, but by now we had at least started thinking about how to make the shot look a bit more interesting. The next filming day saw Pete make an appearance, and even Jamie turned up for one day. Moving onto the June filming dates, I know that it was probably the hottest day of the year when we shot “Microwave In The Bush”. Briefly, it’s a music video about a microwave in a bush to the tune of Another One Bites The Dust by Queen. I have the honour of lead vocals and… you really don’t want to hear it. Best part is probably Adam using a spirit level on the microwave to make sure it’s not on an angle. In the bush.
Whilst it may not be my favourite episode overall, it does have some good sketches throughout – Man Stalked by A Cricket Ball (Ronseal sketch); Man with 20 metres of cling film (snap); Dr Keith (bit cryptic, you’d have to see it and even then it’s 50/50 whether you find it funny); and not forgetting the Partly Political Broadcast – an excuse for Dan and Pete to pretend to be from a rather peculiar foreign political party, including a picture of Robert Kilroy Silk and an array of tomatoes, eggs and Nectar cards. This is another one that really needs to be seen to really understand. As I write these blogs I feel more inclined as time goes on to upload them… Probably won’t though.
From the copious amounts of Behind The Scenes footage we have, the stand-out piece has to be what is spread over the last 2 discs in the DVD set. Once more, myself and Dan set out on a real-time walk of all filming locations to date, starting at his house and then walking to the Arrow Valley Park where about 95% of the material was recorded. As special features go it was an interesting experiment, maybe not massively interesting for anyone outside of the project but it helps retain some of my memories from those years. Going back to the massive 8 disc DVD set we made, Disc 1 has the remastered episode, disc 2 the original version (both with unique audio commentaries – the same applies to every other episode, 2 commentaries per set). Disc 2 also has the first batch of generic Behind The Scenes footage and the raw clips from the 2007 re-shoots. Then there’s 6 discs of raw footage and video chronicling the episode in all its unedited glory. Discs 3 and 4 cover the raw footage from the episode (in full – no camera faults on this episode), then Discs 5 and 6 cover, for the most part, those Friday meetings that me and Dan used to have. Then there’s that real time walk on Discs 7 and 8. An absolutely huge amount of viewing – about 10 hours in total – all for one 27 minute episode.
As always it was nice to draw a line under another episode, but it took a lot more effort than the previous two. That, plus the slightly lower quality camera we’d started using, meant that I don’t hold Episode 3 in the same regard as the previous 2. Things would improve for Episode 4…