Saturday, 15 August 2015

On Location with ARD


The Munro Society (TMS) was approached a number of weeks ago by ARD (full name:  Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) who wanted to film scenes relating to Munros which would form part of a programme on Scotland which is due to be broadcast this upcoming November.
As ARD is a joint organisation of regional public-service broadcasters in Germany the programme will be broadcast in that country.  However, we hope to have a DVD of the programme and the part about Munros may be put on the Mapping Mountains site if permission to do so is given.  ARD also expressed a keen interest that the surveyors who were involved in The Munro Society’s Heighting Project should also be present for the filming.


We met at the car park on the opposite side of the road to Ben Lawers above the town of Killin in the Highlands.  The weather forecast for the day was not good with rain predicted to fall during the morning and afternoon.  However, when Iain Robinson and Peter Willimott greeted us it was still dry, within a few minutes Stewart Logan had joined us.  It was good to see Iain, Peter and Stewart again as friendships have been built since our involvement in the Heighting Project first began.

The location that had been chosen was ideal as the car park gave access onto Beinn Ghlas with Ben Lawers beyond.  These are big mountains with Ben Lawers being the 10th highest in Britain and with the plan to visit its summit and film we hoped that the forecast would be incorrect as inclement weather is not ideal for standing around waiting for discussion and re-takes.

Soon after we arrived a large van pulled into the car park and within a few minutes the ARD film crew of Joachim, Alexander and Oliver were introducing themselves.  They were accompanied by Katherine who was their assistant.  Katherine was based in Scotland and had arranged much of the organisation and logistics before the film crew flew in to Glasgow.

Surveyors, TMS members and the ARD film crew

As Stewart had been TMS’s liaison with ARD, Joachim and Alexander wanted him miked up, he had also revised his Ben Lawers history as had we.  The plan was that we should walk up the mountain and talk about the Munro’s and the Heighting Project, empathising details about Sir Hugh and the origins of the list, the formation of TMS and the surveys conducted since the Heighting Project was initialised.  Therefore they wanted one of the surveyors also miked up; John and I quickly volunteered Graham who stepped forward for his day in the limelight.

Stewart miked up and ready for action

Graham getting miked up

We set off up the path toward Beinn Ghlas and waited as the film crew wanted a number of shots of us approaching their camera position and then walking past them on the continuation of the path.  Each take would be repeated until the Producer was happy.  The path led up into forestry which forms part of a circular nature walk, ahead lay the mountains with their upper ground cloaked in clag which occasionally rose to reveal darkened high ridges.

We stopped for quite some time next to the Burn of Edramucky which formed a good foreground for filming.  As Oliver wanted our reflections in the water he crouched down and filmed us as we walked over rocks through the stream to the other side.  This was done three or four times until Joa and Alex were happy with the footage.  By this time intermittent showers were breaking out and a grey silkiness of sky heralded what was to come.

On the way to the Burn of Edramucky

Waiting patiently - (L-R) Iain Robertson, Peter Willimott, John Barnard, Graham Jackson and Stewart Logan

Filming us walking over the Burn of Edramucky

We wondered how far up the hill we would go as the gear Joa, Alex and Oliver were carrying was extremely heavy and also bulky.  We soon found out that they had summit fever as they asked us to walk up the steep path toward a prominent rock where we would rest, eat and talk about the Munros and the Heighting Project.  As we continued up they filmed from above as the heavens opened with heavy rain soaking all involved, they then filmed us heading toward the prominent rock where we waited.

The next part consisted of us chatting about the Munros, TMS and the surveys whilst we rested and ate our lunch time snack.  By this time Peter had ate all his sandwiches so he had to borrow one of Graham’s for the filming, this he duly ate.

Filming at our lunch stop

Above us the path continued at a steep gradient to the south ridge of Beinn Ghlas, thankfully during our lunch break the sun had miraculously materialised and the rain had stopped, but as we were asked to continue up toward the south ridge the rain came back with a vengeance and set in for the next hour.  I decided to pack my camera gear away at this stage as although it would have been good to document the wet conditions I didn’t want dampness pervading the delicate lenses of my camera.

By now it was evident that Joa and Alex had their sights on the south ridge, we couldn’t imagine that they would want to go any higher as the conditions were foul, thankfully when we huddled on the ridge and they joined us the verdict was that this was far enough.  This was a wise decision as water had started to invade their camera and sound gear.  However, they now wanted us to walk back up to the high point we had reached, which we did so on three occasions as they filmed.  Happy that they had got enough footage on the hill they said that we could descend and that they would meet us back at the cars.  By now I was shivering as we had stood around for about 20 minutes in sodden gear in cold conditions, as indeed had they.  Their perseverance was something to be admired as they had a goal to achieve and even though the Scottish weather did its utmost to dampen proceedings, they continued filming until what they wanted had been digitally saved.

Once back at the cars they now wanted to film us with the surveying gear, therefore Iain and Peter got into dry clothes and said their goodbyes.  This now left John, Graham and me and Stewart.  We drove further up the road and found a soggy lump which would pass as the summit of a small hill and proceeded to carry the surveying gear to its top.

The next 30 minutes were spent with John taking imaginary readings to the staff that Graham was holding whilst all was being filmed.  After the imaginary high point had been determined we set the Leica GS15 up on the tripod and Graham then chatted about what we had done and how the equipment works.  The last shot was of him and Stewart talking about the Munros whilst looking at a map and then staring contentedly into the camera.

Graham with the staff ready to be filmed

By now we were all well and truly wet!  Stewart looks on as Graham and John describe the fineries of surveying hills

It had been an interesting, albeit very wet day on the hill.  I wonder what we’re all going to sound like when dubbed into German?

The ARD film crew were:

Joachim Bräuninger – Producer

Alexander Stenzel – Producer

Oliver Staubi – Camera

Katherine Brown – Assistant

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