Location discovery: Beachy Head

I decided on a location before I’d even thought about the film idea. I went to Beachy Head with my family and was absolutely mesmerised by how beautiful the view was from up there. Below is a shot of Beachy Head that I took while I was there. This particular shot first inspired my film idea.

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After deciding I definitely wanted to use Beachy Head as a location to shoot at, I thought I’d do some general background research on Beachy Head:
Beachy Head is a chalk headland in East Sussex, England. It is situated close to Eastbourne, immediately east of the Seven Sisters. Beachy Head is located within the administrative area of Eastbourne Borough Council which owns the land. The cliff is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising to 162 metres (531 ft) above sea level. The peak allows views of the south east coast from Dungeness in the east, to Selsey Bill in the west. Its height has also made it one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world.

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Beachy Head as a suicide spot:
There are an estimated 20 deaths by suicide a year at Beachy Head. The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team conducts regular day and evening patrols of the area in attempts to locate and stop potential jumpers. Workers at the pub and taxi drivers are also on the look-out for people contemplating suicide, and there are posted signs with the telephone number of the Samaritansurging potential jumpers to call them.
Deaths at the site are well-covered by the media; Ross Hardy, the founder of the chaplaincy team, said this encouraged people to come and jump off. Worldwide, the landmark’s suicide rate is surpassed only by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Aokigahara Woods in Japan, according to Thomas Meaney of The Wall Street Journal (although this claim is challenged by other data on famous suicide spots around the world).
Between 1965 and 1979, there were 124 deaths at the location. Of these, S J Surtees wrote that 115 of them were “almost certainly” suicides (although a coroner’s verdict of suicide was recorded in only 58 cases), and that 61 percent of the victims were from outside East Sussex. The earliest reports of deaths come from the 7th century. After a steady increase in deaths between 2002 and 2005, there were only seven fatalities in 2006, a marked decrease. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (whose Coastguard Rescue Teams are responsible for the rescue of injured jumpers and the recovery of the deceased) attributed the reduction to the work of the Chaplaincy Team and good coverage of services by the local media. At least 26 people died at the site in 2008.

I though it would be useful finding a film that had been shot at Beachy Head, to get inspiration with shots etc. I found a film about two 17 year old boys who were considering committing suicide off Beachy Head. Although I didn’t rate the film, at all, I found it very interesting ….

First Recce to Beachy Head:

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During our recce to Beachy Head, we decided to choose an exact spot for filming. We wanted to choose the perfect position where, from behind, it would appear the person on camera was standing at the edge of the cliff, but in fact was standing in a safe position. The third picture is the exact spot where we want to film, as you can see it looks as if I am standing right on the edge of the cliff, however below me is a large ledge. We had to take safety precautions into consideration when choosing the best spot for filming, we were aware that filming on Beachy Head would be challenging due to the fact it would limit the variety of shots we could use, it would be difficult to achieve certain shots as we would need to be careful filming at the edge of a cliff! We tried a variety of different angles and the few we found most effective was a long shot from behind with the character standing at the edge of the cliff, seen in the eighth photo. We really liked the over the shoulder shot as it gives a sense of perspective, and a voyeuristic feel to it. Like the audience are there observing events as they take place. We have decided that we want to include a variety of POV shots in our film, as we think this will really capture the emotion behind the characters. Having the POV of our main character Eli, will work well is trying to tell the audience that he is considering to commit suicide, without explicitly stating it through dialogue.

Third recce:

This time we aimed to get some footage that could be used in our pilot. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very good, we had checked beforehand and it wasn’t supposed to rain until later on but we had about 20 minutes before it started raining, and even the footage we obtained in those 20 minutes weren’t up to a good standard as the beautiful view wasn’t as picturesque as it had been on our previous trips due to a layer of fog. Below is a video I took on my phone from inside the car at Beachy Head, to document the extent of the bad weather:

Fourth trip to Beachy Head:

This time we went to Beachy Head with the intention of getting some footage for our pilot. As out previous trips had been somewhat unsuccessful due to the weather, or problems with equipment, we wanted to make sure we would get some good footage this time. Me and Nelly discussed some shots we wanted to achieve prior to the trip, in order to ensure we would get straight down to business when we got there. For our second trip to Beachy Head, the weather had prevented us from getting good footage, but the fact that we weren’t dressed appropriately for filming outside in cold and windy conditions, made us lose enthusiasm very quickly! This time round we made sure we were wearing appropriate clothing, so nothing could stop us from getting SOME footage. While the time before had been very overcast and started raining heavily, this time was overcast without rain but extremely windy conditions. I took another video to document this:

Both the above videos document how windy the weather conditions were during filming. We struggled to get steady footage even when using a tripod! While this was very frustrating, it was a very informative experience as it showed us some of the issues we may encounter when shooting for our trailer.

Playing with focus: 

This was some footage that we managed to get, even in awful weather conditions. Although the footage is only test shots, I really like the framing. Here we play with focus, as well as the rule of three. I like the change between the foreground being in focus, and the background being out of focus, to the background being in focus and the foreground being out of focus. This technique creates a really nice depth of field.

CATEGORY ARCHIVES: SEARCH AND RESCUE INCIDENTS

I found this article about the number of search and rescue incidents during a week. I was really shocked by the level of incidents each week! I feel having knowledge of the location is a really important thing for both the role of screenwriter, as it helps with story context, as well as the director.

Search & Rescue Incidents During Week of 11th to 17th May 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team were involved in 13 searches/ incidents during the week ending 17th May 2015, resulting in the rescue of 8 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 4  Searches by Sussex Police for despondent/ missing/ suicidal persons and 1 by the general public.

The Frontline Pro-actice team came across another 8 persons during our routine patrols

Sadly, there was a death at the cliffs this week.

Search & Rescue incidents during week of 4th to 10th May 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy team were involved in 20 searches, during the week ending 10th May 2015, resulting in the rescue of 12 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 9 searches by Sussex Police for despondent/ missing/ Suicidal Persons 2 by the general public and 1 by the beachy head pub.

The Frontline pro-active team came across another 8 persons during our routine patrols.

Thankfully there were no deaths at Beachy head this week.

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Search & Rescue Incidents for week of 27th April to 3rd May 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team Were involved in 17 searches during the week ending 3rd May 2015 resulting in the rescue of 8 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 10 searches by Sussex Police for Despondent/ Missing/ Suicidal Persons.

The Frontline pro-active team came across another 7 persons during our routine Patrols.

Happily there were no deaths at Beachy Head this week.

Search & rescue Incidents during week of 20th to 26th April 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy team were involved in 13 Searches during the week ending 26th April 2015 resulting in the rescue of 8 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 3 searches by Sussex Police for despondent/ missing/ Suicidal Persons 1 by our local coastguards, 1 by the public and were involved in assisting coastguards once and ambulance services once.

The frontline pro-active team came across another 6 persons during our routine patrols.

Happily I am able to state that there were no deaths at the cliffs this week.

Search and rescue incidents during week of 13th April to 19th April 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team were involved in 14 searches during the week ending 19th April 2015 resulting in the rescue of 9 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to  7 searches by sussex  police for despondent/ missing/ Suicidal persons, 1 by the Beachy Head Pub and 2 by the general public.

The frontline pro-active team came across another 4 persons during our routine patrols.

I am pleased to be able to state that there were no death’s at  the cliffs this week.

Search & Rescue incidents during week of 6th to 12th april 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team were involved in 17 searches during the week ending 12th April resulting in the rescue of 9 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 9 searches by Sussex police for despondent / missing/ suicidal persons and 3 by the general public.

The frontline pro-active team  came across another five persons during our routine patrols

Sadly There was a death at the cliffs this week

Search & Rescue Incidents during week of 30th March to 5th April 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy team were involved in 11 searches during the week ending 5th April 2015 , resulting in the rescue of 7 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 5 searches by Sussex Police for despondent/ missing/ suicidal Persons.

The frontline pro-active team came across another 6 persons during our Routine Patrols.

Happily I am able to report that there were no deaths at beachy head this week

Search & Rescue Incidents during week of 23rd March to 29th March 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy team were involved in22 searches during the week ending 29th march 2015, resulting in the rescue of 11 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 12 searches by Sussex Police for despondent/ missing/ suicidal persons and 2 by the Beachy Head Pub.

The frontline pro-active team came across another  8 persons during our routine patrols.

Sadly There was  one death at beachy head this week.

Search & Rescue Incidents during week of 16th to 22 March 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team were involved in 22 searches during the week ending 22nd march 2015, resulting in the rescue of 15 who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 8 searches by sussex police for Despondent/ missing/ suicidal persons, 1 by the Beachy Head Pub, and 2 by the general public.

The frontline pro-active team came across came across a further 11 persons during our routine patrols.

Gladly there were no deaths at the cliffs this week.

Search & rescue Incidents during week of 9th to 15th March 2015

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team were involved in 16 searches during the week ending15th March, resulting in the rescue of 7 persons who were despondent/ suicidal.

We were called to 10 searches by sussex police for despondent/ missing/ suicidal persons.

The Frontline Pro-active team came across another 6 persons during our routine patrols

Sadly, there was a death at the cliffs this week.

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