Film ID: YFA 4165 Video of YFA_4165 Crash Spectacular 1974 CRASH SPECTACULAR 1974 Visitor TabsDescription This film documents the recording of a scene from Alan Sidi's film, 'The Devil God'. Alan Sidi, a member of the Leeds cine group called Mercury Movie Makers, produced this film with funding from the Yorkshire Arts Association. This funding enabled him to create a spectacular pyrotechnic display with expert assistance from specialist effects company 'Action Incorporated', and this film is a voice over lead documentary chronicling the production process of the explosive stunt. Title - Crash Spectacular. The opening shot of this films shows a grand modern house; parked in the driveway there is the Mercedes and Triumph used in Alan Sidi's fictional film the 'The Devil God', there is also a plaque on a wall which reads, 'Val Dor.' A voice over describes the significance of the day, alluding to the Triumph's spectacular fate. People enter the vehicles and pull away from the driveway. Men push the white triumph through the grass towards Hawksford quarry. A group of people then congregate around the Triumph, as adjustments are made to the car. Next, the car, affectionately known as 'Hubert', is pushed along another grassy path with the cart attached to it. Now at the summit of Hawksford quarry, the filmmaker captures shots of the steep drop, and a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. Following this, dummies are assembled, placed in the car, and a man wearing an 'Action Inc.' jacket watches men hack away at a piece of the rock face. The next sequence opens with Alan Sidi - the director of 'The Devil God' - and his wife - one of the stars of the film - looking at a camera. The following shots show the crew setting up their filming equipment, removing wrecks from the quarry, before a rock falls from one of the quarry walls. The voice over describes Alan Sidi's careful preparation as he briefs his cameramen. The crew then practice with a special light designed to replicate the effect of a fire burning. Next, static shots of the actors in the car are filmed, using crew members to rock the car engendering a sense of movement to the footage. The voice runs over through the logistics of the shoot, stating that six 16mm film cameras will be used to capture the stunt. Final preparations are made; cameras are rechecked, the cars path is cleared, and the director gives his final instructions over a radio. The car is pushed to its starting position, before rolling down the slope and crashing down into the quarry. The voice over states that it was a great success, as all the cameras worked. Crew members and spectators clamber down into the quarry to examine the smashed up triumph. The final scene from 'The Devil God' is then filmed and includes actors running through their parts. Reporters from the Yorkshire press chat to Mrs Sidi, then Action Incorporated prepares the explosions; this process involves attaching fuses to plastic bags filled with gasoline. A man at a control panel flicks a switch, and the filmmaker cuts to show the explosion. The final sequence shows the finished edited version of the stunt footage, which was featured in the climactic scene of 'The Devil God'. Title - The end. Context This film is an accompaniment to The Devil God, which perhaps ought to be watched first. It is rare for an amateur cine club to make a documentary type film showing the behind-the-scenes shooting of a film. It therefore provides a very rare opportunity to glimpse them in action. The fact that Mercury Movie Makers made this film about filming indicates their ambition and their expertise. The Director and inspirational force behind The Devil God, Alan Sidi, looks as comfortable in front of the camera as he clearly was when directing from behind it. It shows the seriousness, and the less seriousness, of the filmmakers, and their professional approach. All those working on the film certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place in a professional crew, and the quality of the film bears comparison at least with certain TV sci-fi series of the period – think of Dr Who at that time, or the later Blake’s 7. The Bond films aside, the British film industry was well behind their American counterparts in the special effects field. The event was enough to get the Yorkshire Post to come along and write an article on it (‘Zooming in for action’, 11th October 1974, see Comments). Some of those working on the film have been discussed elsewhere, see the Context for The Devil God. It isn’t clear exactly what role the Yorkshire Arts Association played in the film. They did help fund a number of titles in the YFA Collection in the 1970s and ‘80s. However, John Murray, who filmed the crash sequence, and was the Chairman of the Film Panel of the YAA around this time, has no recollection of their involvement, so they may just have helped with distribution. Nevertheless, it is worth noting the positive role that the YAA did play in helping small film productions. The BFI catalogue lists 50 where they are credited either as the production company, or, more often, as sponsors – one of these, Owen Bit Bog Oil (it should be Ower), is erroneously credited to them and should be dated 1963/64, not 1972. The YFA has a further seven films in its catalogue with the YAA credited not on the BFI list, including this one. Keith Overend, who worked on this film, had one of his own films This Horrid Place, also made in 1974, funded by YAA. The YAA can trace its origins back to an American philanthropist Edward Stephen Harkness, who established the Pilgrim Trust in 1930 to preserve English heritage. This formed the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) at the end of 1939, the forerunner of the Arts Council, which was established in 1946. The Arts Council then went on to form regional arts associations between 1956 and 1971, including the Yorkshire one, which operated as a registered charity between 1970 and 1992. In 1992 the twelve Regional Arts Associations become ten Regional Arts Boards, with Yorkshire merging with Humberside. This scene, filmed at Hawksworth Quarry, Guisely (on Moor Top), would certainly have cost a lot. Of course, the members of the club, and doubtless others like John Murray, would have worked for free in their spare time. But there would have been plenty of additional costs (not least Alan Sidi’s car!) The special effects/stunt company Action Incorporated was responsible for stunt coordination. Action Inc. was formed in 1971 by a group of amateur stunt and special effects enthusiasts offering their specialist services to non-professional film makers across the UK. Over the next 15 years the company worked on over 100 productions for film schools, film clubs and individual film-makers around the country. Their members provided explosions, bullet hit and arrow/spear effects, as well as performing stunts such as car crashes, saddle falls, high falls and body burns. Although they were amateurs, they prided themselves on a fully professional service. John Murray states that he obtained a copy of the crash scene off Alan Sidi for use in another film Khoon aur Paisa made by Indian Arts (also sponsored by the YAA). As John relates: “This amateur Bollywood production needed an actor to come to a sticky end as he’d walked out of the production during the shooting- so a car chase was added in order to write him out of the story. I got some of the ‘overs’ from Alan Sidi so the Indian film chase ended with the ‘villain’s car’ going over the quarry, but it meant that the producer, Gurcharan Singh Gossal, had to find a matching car for the scenes before the crash!” At the time Gurcharan Singh was working at David Brown Tractors, and was a member of a Youth Club in Huddersfield. He roped in all his friends to act (and sing) in Khoon aur Paisa (Blood or Money) which was shot in Hindi, in Huddersfield and Halifax. If anyone knows where a copy of this film might be found, get in touch. What the film also reveals is the collaborative nature of many of the films made by cine clubs in general, and MMM in particular, and the great satisfaction that gave to all those involved. (With special thanks to John Murray). References The Arts Council and Regional Arts Associations Dick Budgen, Action Inc.