‘The most boring place in England’ is, apparently, near Scunthorpe in my home county of the East Riding of Yorkshire. It was identified back in 2001 by OS experts who used computer software to scan the 204 Landranger map series and has no features other than a single pylon.
Film maker Lois Hanney lives close to the square kilometre plot in a little village called Adlingfleet. She set out to prove the area is far from dull as the headlines made out and created a beautiful film featuring the abundance of wildlife that thrives there. This is the result…
Lois is in her third year of the (Hons) Filmmaking at Manchester School of Art (part of the Manchester Metropolitan University) which is a practical, art-based film course that pushes us as students to explore our ideas and stories through moving image.
After seeing her film on the internet I caught up with Lois to ask her a few questions about her and her work.
Why did you choose to film wildlife for your course?
Throughout the 3 years of my filmmaking degree I tried a lot of approaches and styles of film but felt most at home with documentary. I’ve always loved nature and growing up in rural East Yorkshire I am lucky enough to have it on my doorstep – literally! I really wanted to enjoy my final year as much as possible, therefore decided to combine my love of nature, my love of my home town and my love of documentary filmmaking.
How long did it take you to record the footage?
I started filming in August 2013 – and finished in May 2014…. This wasn’t constant filming, I had to split my time between filming and home and working/attending lectures in Manchester. I tended spend one week in Manchester, and one in Yorkshire, and alternate like that. When I was shooting at home, I would be up at around 5am each morning to catch the sun rise and would be out until sun set, so it was quite exhausting!
What message do you hope to get across with your film?
I guess the overall message/theme that I would like to get across is a sense of pride in where I grew up. It is a really personal film for me because all the images are nostalgic; they remind me of my childhood with my friends and family.
Also on a more literal level I wanted to show that mapping an area into lines and shapes on paper doesn’t provide a realistic reflection of place – the area may look boring but it is a place rich in wildlife and nature.
What equipment did you use to record?
I use a canon 60d body, and a 170-500 sigma lens for the wildlife. I also use a 90mm Tamron tele-macro lens, and a ‘husky’ tripod, both of which I was given. Not the most hi-tech equipment but the best I could do with a student budget!
Have you been graded for your film yet?
I have been given my provisional marks – for the film I got 63 which is a 2:1. These marks haven’t been moderated but it looks like I am going to graduate with a 2:1 overall!
Do you have any advice for people wanting to film nature?
Film something you are passionate about. There is no way you will be patient enough to sit, in the rain, at 4:45am, every morning for a WHOLE WEEK in the hope of getting one quick shot of an elusive animal – unless you really love what you are filming.
What are your plans for the future?
In the future I would love to be a freelance wildlife filmmaker, specifically a cinematographer. In the mean time, I am working a regular 9 – 5 job in order to be able to afford equipment/transportation costs so I can build up my wildlife filmmaking portfolio.
Wow, Lois has really inspired me to stop daydreaming about catching wildlife on film and to actually do something about it. I love taking pictures of wildlife I can access easily like the nest full of blue tit chicks I blogged about a few weeks ago, but not tested my patience for the more aloof animals such as fox and roe deer.
Here are some wonderful stills of some of the wildlife featured in The Most Boring Place In England.
|Green-veined white butterfly on yarrow|
|Male marsh harrier|