MOVIE makers are back on track for action in Leven.
Final sequences for a futurisitc fantasy revenge tale are being filmed in the town.
Web broadcast television outfit Channel Fife TV is making ‘The Legend of Black Diamond’ – before hopefully premiering it later this year at The Regent community cinema.
The crew has made a return visit to the Kingdom of Fife Railway Preservation Society yard in Mountfleurie, to film action and dialogue scenes.
And, thanks to the engineering enthusiasts at Kirkland Sidings, the film crew has had the use of one of the prides of their collection – the 1958 diesel shunter, ‘River Eden’, which has played an important supporting role.
Director Graeme Campbell, who also scripted and co-stars, has fashioned a tale mixing futuristic elements with the steam-punk and graphic novel styles for the story, based very loosely on the history of Fife and present-day world economic strife.
Inspiration has also been borrowed from ‘spaghetti’ Westerns, including Clint Eastwood’s 1968 take on the genre, ‘Hang ‘em High’.
The central character, Black Diamond, played by Jemma Grace Carroll, owns and works her own coal mine.
However, bankers in the infamous City of Finance, or ‘The Citadel,‘ want back – with interest – money borrowed by her late father.
A chief ‘collection agent’, The Liquidator, and raiders, destroy the mine and leave Black Diamond for dead.
But the resourceful heroine gradually recovers and teams up with a motley and mysterious gang of accomplices, including Sparky (Laura Binnie), The Cabbie (Farooqi Muskwati), and rebel soldiers, for an eventual face-off against the heavily-guarded Citadel.
They encounter a crazed ‘doll maker’ and his robotic creations, among other nefarious villains.
Alongside Farooqi, of Leven, many local people have been involved on either side of the camera, including artist and steam-punk prop maker Jeff Fallow, of Windygates, who plays the Doll Maker.
Audrey Egan, of Methil, is the Masked Liquidator, while former Hollywood stunt man Bob McCrystal, of Leven, doubles for several characters.
Graeme also gave the Mail a chance of some silver-screen stardom, with chief reporter Ralph Mellon in a small role as a Rebel Soldier.
In addition to help from KFRPS, and others, Tom O’Hara, of Buckhaven, loaned a classic British Ariel motorbike and a Californian State Trooper Highway Patrol bike for the production.
Graeme intends to cut ‘Black Diamond’ into an hour-long or 80-minute version, hopefully to be premiered at the Regent, then release it on DVD, before posting it online in its originally -planned 10-part series of 10-minute episodes.
Ambitiously, he also hopes to take it to Belgium for the annual Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival – where it may interest potential distributors.
Graeme, whose films have covered a diverse range of subjects, said he was interested to see just how far small-budget community film-making could go.
Projects like ‘Black Diamond’ added even more spice to the content of the Channel Fife website, he added.
“I’D like to thank the members of the Academy...(sob)...
Well, maybe not. But a little flavour of film-making was certainly a lot of fun.
Writer-director Graeme Campbell offered me (Ralph Mellon) a role in ‘The Legend of Black Diamond’, a movie being made by Channel Fife TV.
I immediately went into Brandoesque and de Niro-like method acting mode and put on weight for the part – then heard I’d be an extra, without a syllable of dialogue.
However, I ended up with a death scene and got to play a corpse as well – more challenging than you may think.
It all unfolded as the Mail spent a day on set with Graeme and the Channel Fife volunteers, for action scenes filmed at the Kingdom of Fife Railway Preservation yard in Leven.
Member Jim Mackie drove the train which was crucial to the drama – in fact, much of the production’s several hundred-pound budget was spent on diesel fuel!
It’s very much a team effort at Channel Fife.
Virtually everyone is an unpaid volunteer and Graeme, in addition to writing and directing the picture, had played the role of the Provost Marshall.
Laura Binnie doubled as camera operator on a day off from playing another of the leading characters, Sparky.
Veteran ex-stuntman Bob McCrystal took a few topples from the top of the train – and the whole crew spent time, in between scenes, assembling, flattening and re-assembling the cardboard boxes which broke his falls.
For myself, there was a chance to recreate childhood games of ‘best man falls’ and ‘soldiers and Zulus’ as I plunged on to a crash mat, in the guise of a Rebel Soldier loyal to Black Diamond, after being shot in the back while trying to escape a train full of marauding villains.
A quick change of headgear and I was transformed into another Rebel Soldier, equally loyal to Black Diamond, and equally as ill-fated.
Playing dead was also quite interesting – it was tougher than I imagined to lie completely still in the same position for several takes and try to breathe in a shallow, imperceptible manner.
Extra authenticity, meanwhile, was added by a trio of air soft combat enthusiasts, who played villains’ henchmen.
Jason Regan, Gareth Ainge and Dean Scott, very experienced in recreational mock skirmishes, brought along some replica weapons and smoke grenades, adding noise and gusto to the battles.
‘Hurry up and wait’ is a common maxim in the film industry, with the setting up of scenes and equipment often leading to lengthy idle spells.
Perfect weather on the day helped, but time passes at exactly the same rate on a multi-million dollar blockbuster as a small, community, amateur enthusiast-driven project, so we reckon we’ve shared the pain of Spielberg and Cameron.
That down payment on a beach house in Malibu may have to wait, but I don’t mind too much. It was fun.