Phoenix Film

Event Date: Jun 30, 2019

Event Time: 18:30:00

Event Details:

David Harnett and Keith Stephens-Borg were teenagers in the 1970s, from St. Joseph’s High School, Newport. They were part of a small group of boys who formed a film group making 8mm three minute silent shorts. Arthur Conan Doyle's book ‘The Lost World’ was given to them to read as part of their English studies. It soon occurred to them that the school, with its lake and heavily wooded trees would provide an ideal ‘Amazonian’ backdrop, and a decision was taken to shoot a film complete with animated clay dinosaurs and a group of actors, with a synchronised soundtrack to be added at the end stage, for which they were kindly given access to the Newport Film School’s recording studio at Fairoak Avenue.
They duly set about writing the storylines, producing art work, storyboards, scripts, planning and painting illustrations of the scenes as they envisaged them to be. Remarkably, this art collection which was created ahead of the film, and all the documentation generated during the making of the film including a daily diary of events, is still in their possession, only having re-surfaced recently following decades of storage.

The film at the time was also the subject of a half page spread in the local South Wales Argus article ‘Undaunted Schoolboys Film Venture’.

With experience gained in making ‘The Lost World’ and better equipment at their disposal, aged about 17, David and Keith embarked upon another production, ‘The Second Shot Kills’, an original storyline written by them, based on a Ian Fleming's action format. This 44 minute film was shot around Newport and the docks.

The two films remained in their cans unwatched for best part of 30 years until David and Keith decided in 2010 to have them transcribed to DVD by Digital Images of Newport. Their condition was good, but their magnetic recorded soundtracks had suffered and a partial restoration was undertaken to restore sound where the original magnetic tape had peeled off. David and Keith approached the distinguished British stage and screen actor Joss Ackland who voiced-over some dialogue as part of the sound restoration.

In September 2011, with both films now in a much better condition on DVD, they were shown at the ‘Riverfront Theatre’ studio cinema on the full screen, with a full house and standing ovation. Once again, the local ‘South Wales Argus’ covered the subject and it was featured on ‘Radio Wales’ evening news programme.
Both films, since 2011 have been the subject of total though sympathetic restoration with some short additional scenes filmed to strengthen the storyline of The Second Shot Kills, together with both films having received complete new digital stereo audio tracks with original sparkling musical scores composed and arranged by Karim Bedda (ex Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama) on full orchestra.
On Sunday 30th June Phoenix Film will screen both films in their newly restored version at 6:30pm. The screenings will be followed with the Q&A with the co-directors.

"We don’t claim these exploits to be more than amateur productions, but they were the result of colossal efforts to make in a pre-digital age. They are as much a part of the heritage of ‘Newport Film School’ and its successor as they are ours. It could be they are of interest to emerging media and film students as examples of what can be done with minimal resources and determination. At the very least we hope you will enjoy viewing our efforts which have emerged from the wintery mists of time. We are looking forward to the evening at Cwtsh." David Harnett & Keith Stephens-Borg

Pyramid Films