Document Sample
					                         MONSTER MOVES – WINDFALL FILMS

The Introduction

How do you come up with ideas for productions?
Often a chance meeting is the start of an idea, and so it was with „ Monster Moves“ .
The director/producer, Carlo Masserella, happened to meet a so-called „ shack dragger“ in the
U.S. a few years ago.
What is a shack dragger? A shack dragger is a structural mover, a haulage contractor who
specialises in moving large buildings from their original site to a new site. Houses, mansions,
lighthouses, hotels, churches ( complete with steeples!),silos - you name it, they move it!
People see it as recycling – why tear down a structure if you can move it?

The challenges involved.

Live overhead power lines, accidents with buildings that fall off their trucks, runaway cranes,
failed brakes, bridges, hills, extra tractors, snow storms.....the list of challenges is endless.

So, how do you move a building onto a truck, and how big does the truck have to be?
First, steel beams are put in place, then the structures are raised using special hydraulic jacks.
The jacks are linked together to form one system and can accommodate 1-38 jacks, each
capable of raising 100 tons.
The size of the truck will obviously vary in width and length, but around 60 wheels is a good
average length.

Now – how do you set about filming the moving of a structure?
Let’s look at the moving of one such structure, the Trinity Church.

What do you have to know about:
  1. the Church
  2. the journey
  3. the equipment needed for filming.

What might provide the strongest material?
How would you employ CGI?
What about music?
What practical issues do you have to consider for the crew?

Documentaries like these need spectacular (and specialist) vocabulary.

Here are some descriptions useful for runaway vehicles:

To career (through town / into overhead lines / power cables)
To hurtle (into a bridge / down a mountainside)
To grind to a halt = to come to a halt
To present a hazard = to be a danger
To crash / smash (into a tree / house)
To haul = to pull something large / heavy
To lumber = describes movement of something heavy / unwieldy
To gather / pick up speed = to go faster
To go at breakneck speed = to go dangerously fast
To topple = to fall over, usually of something high / tall
Perilous = dangerous = risky = touch- and- go = hairy
To be in jeopardy = to be in danger / to run the danger of = to run the risk of
To be exposed to danger (e.g. a driver, a crew)

Can you think of any opposites to these words/phrases?

What other things can you describe with these words?

What can you add to the description to make it even more dramatic?

Have you ever been in a tight spot (e.g. whilst on an OB) where something dangerous might
have occurred?

Idioms for danger
Not out of the wood, hanging by a thread, out of the frying-pan and into the fire,
between the devil and the deep blue sea, to be on the rocks, to be in a tight spot,
to be up shit creek (without a paddle).

Idioms for safety
To be all plain sailing, to be on the safe side, to be safe and sound,to be in safe hands,to save
one’s bacon,to weather the storm,the coast is clear,to be as safe as houses.

Can you think of and describe any situations where you might use some of these expressions?

„ No battery left and my mobile phone needed recharging....I was really up shit creek.....“
„ So once we had got the power sorted, it was all plain sailing from then on, and we got some
spectacular footage.“

People often tell stories/anecdotes about unusual/funny/strange things that have happened to
them whilst recording programmes. Can you tell a funny story about something that happened
to you once? How do you set the scene?

                                          E-mail Tasks
Choose an e-mail task (or more if you would like):
1. Write an e-mail to a shack dragger, explaining that you would like to make a
    6-part documentary about their work. Explain what you would like from
    them (interest generally, interesting buildings, dates, payment, what they
    are prepared to let you film etc etc......)

2.    Write to an American film-hire company asking for a quotation for ..?..
      extra camera teams for ...?... days. Explain what they are going to be

3.    Write to a film-hire company asking for a price quotation for any extra
      equipment you need (lights, cable, mikes, cameras, safety harnesses..)

4.    Write an e-mail to a catering firm giving details of the shoot, stating
      exactly what you need, and ask for a price quotation.

5.    Write to an airline to book internal flights and explain how much excess
      baggage you are expecting to have.

6.    Write to the American embassy to clear any visa queries (work).

7.    Write to a local hotel to book rooms for all crews.

 8. Write an e-mail to an equipment hire company in America, explaining what
    you need to hire (cranes / tractors..), how long for, where(xyz), what for,
    and asking for a price quotation.

9.    Write an e-mail to the insurance company explaining what you are going
      to film and asking if you are covered.

10. Write an e-mail to the owner of the property asking for permission to film
    and offering any payment, mention the rights to the material.

11.   Write to the highway police / sheriff to clear any rights you may need to
      film along the route.

12.    Write a waiver claim for any people appearing in the film (public etc.)

                                  Commentary on the lesson

The introduction
 I start by asking the question and using it to introduce a form of small talk, such as they
might have on any break in an international outside broadcast, and continue to follow their
leads. They may have „ idea pools „ at their companies, they may just like to speculate, there
may be editors in the group who do this all the time. If there is not much coming from the
group, I help them along with an example of a song by T.Rex which starts „ Did you ever
see a woman walking in New York City with a frog in her hand?“ When asked where he got
the idea, Marc Bolan simply said „ I saw it. „ – and get them to speculate about possible TV
formats and how they could make a TV programme out of something like this –e.g. „ People
out and about in town“ or „ 5 –minute videos“ and where they could put cameras /
microphones etc. People will then often talk about unusual programmes that they have
worked on in the past or ideas they have had themselves – their own experiences, in fact, so
they are using authentic language. I find that the groups prefer to work as a group –they all
ask each other questions depending on the job each of them does, but I do sometimes do
pairwork. Have they ever seen anything unusual that they could imagine turning into a TV
programme? (An unusual means of transport, methods of doing something etc.).
Shack dragger – people seem to love this expression and I can do a lot with it – Elvis was
born in a typical small (shotgun) shack. ( What is a shack – why could it have got this name,
have you ever seen one (or Elvis’ birth place) etc., what is a shotgun shack ( rooms behind
each other in a long line , do we have anything like it here ( garden sheds!)...) Again, this is
the kind of conversation people could actually have, so it is providing authentic practice. I
then point out that the structural movers don’ t really move shacks, but rather larger
structures! People seem to know about larger structures ( houses, ship’s propellers )
being moved.
I discuss the idea of recycling buildings – does it happen in Germany? Have they ever heard
of it? Why? When? Do they know anything about shack draggers? Can they imagine what
it’s like to do a job like this? What could be the positive things, the negative – I pick up on
their questions to make conversation as naturally as possible. Students have been very
interested in the subject matter and are fascinated by the whole idea of structural movers and
ask questions or comment on each other’s points

Once I feel that I have exhausted this part, I move to the websites of the 2 structural movers
(given at the bottom of sheet 1). On their sites they have pictures of several of the buildings
which they have moved – and they are amazing! I ask questions about the photos –would they
buy a house (like the one in the photo) and move it? Why/not? How much do they think it
would cost? Why would anyone want to move a building?( the idea of preservation, especially
of a family home, perhaps built by a grandfather – the emotional aspect – great TV!) I then
move on to the lighthouses (soil erosion an obvious factor) but the chimney stack has always
proved the most fascinating. How on earth do people move it?(I put this idea on the board for
later) People are very happy to speculate – they are really prepared to discuss the problems
involved amongst themselves! Then I ask from where they would film – there are so many
pipes in the way, where could they put the cameras, the safety measures needed, the problems
involved, what kind of sound would they use - the clanking of machinery?- how about
lighting – how would they set this up? The groups have always had a lot to say about this –
just like colleagues talking to colleagues from other countries – they work on different
programmes, and each programme brings its challenges.

The challenges of filming
Besides the points mentioned on the students’ sheet, I also ask about the practicalities of
filming.Which angles would they film from? What sound bites would they like? How do they
cope with the sound of the machinery? What are the challenges for the sound people, camera
people, light people, organisers , researchers – they will have a different aspect to bring to the
discussion. I have found people genuinely interested in each other’s work – the camera
operators ask the sound engineers something, they in turn ask them something, then the
production manager talks about the challenges involved in coordinating the whole shoot –
they really do use the language they would use in a real situation.
If for example they say „ the weather“ then I ask them to explain – what exactly do they
mean, how would/could they solve a specific problem, what exactly would it involve – think
every stage through – this is excellent for using the kind of language that they would need in
international productions – most of the talking is done in problem-solving situations. ( Great
for anecdotes!) The photographs about moving the grain silos in Canada in a snowstorm is a
marvellous talking point for the camera operators and sound engineers!( Who would get the
coldest?!) I draw them towards thinking about things which come up on the website or in the
film – the physical effort required by the camera teams, alternatives to cranes for shooting
from a height, how to get food and power to the camera crews, how much planning would it
require, how do they move around on the actual day of filming ( the church will be blocking
the road), how do the camera crews know where to stand, when do they do the interviews,
how do they add sound, the fact that the church can’t stop once it has started to move ......

By now most students will have asked „ But how exactly do they move it?“
This may also be on the board from earlier.
I get them to speculate first, then read the information on the sheet, then look at the diagrams
on the websites. This again provides real scope for discussion and possible/probable
explanations – someone in the group always seems to have some idea about building! (Great
for anecdotes!) One student I had had even tried (unsuccessfully!) to move a garden shed
whole! This provided a great deal of wonderful discussion material.“ Why didn’t you try ....?
And what about ....? So how did you ....?“ „ How would you ....?“ – real life!
Imagine the length of the truck – 60 wheels means 15 pairs of 2 huge wheels – the photos give
you a good idea of the size of the operation. What’s the biggest truck they have ever seen? On
what occasion? Would you film from underneath the truck? Or is it just above wheels that is
interesting? We can compare it to filming Karneval in Köln / Aachen / Düsseldorf / Münster
– the floats are also very long, so the students can really talk about this aspect.

The filming itself
We speculate how they would go about organising and filming this, which depends on the
particular students’ jobs – production organiser/ camerateams / sound technicians /people with
outside broadcast/ documentary experience.
I find the students have a considerable amount to contribute here– some organise outside
broadcasts every day, others have no idea because they only work in a studio. This means
they can ask each other natural questions. In a real life situation they often ask each other
about their different experiences, so this again is perfect authentic practice.

 The film itself
There is a short version of the moving of the church available on, which is also
on the film company’s website. I showed the class this. They were fascinated! It provided no
end of discussion material. It also provided further vocabulary opportunities (e.g. speeded-up
action, quick-motion camera)

Then I take them through parts of the description – I have generally covered most of this in
all the pre-film speculative work – guiding them to think about things such as - How do you
move when the road is blocked? How do you get supplies to people? (quad bikes over fields)
How many camera positions do you want? How many cranes would you need? Where do
people stand to do the filming? (marked positions, in tractor shovels....). How do you organise
your camera teams? ( all 15 of them!)
I really exploit the material in the film. My classes can’t wait to get the DVD of the series! –
that’s how great they found the short film.

If the class is inclined/time allows, I ask them to work out the preparation as a Gantt Chart -
(blocks of overlapping time ) – the time by when certain stages have to be completed. The
information on the website says that the team spent 4 weeks with the movers and 4 weeks
preparing the day’s filming. What do they think about this (luxury!) and what would they
suggest doing and when? I ask them how they would have to plan it within the restrictions
they work with. How could they film it if they didn’t have 15 camera crews etc. There is here
a lot of opportunity to talk about planning aspects of recording/filming and comparing how
different people work – again, exactly the kind of language people need when working
internationally. (A previous lesson was about recording a marathon and this part of the
discussion often provides useful revision of the ideas and the grammar presented

Vocabulary work

 The second sheet provides further useful words, especially for researchers/ editors/ writers/
translators involved in dubbing work. Since recording teams often have to face real hazards in
the course of filming material, this section contains some useful vocabulary for their everyday
needs, especially the idioms.One student had a story about a problem with pyrotechnics
during a show, another about a fan which overheated and caught fire. Also the idea of
collocations is exploited here – vehicles can career, but not people, for example.The idea of a
tight spot provides another good talking opportunity, for example DIY stories, work
situations, or when they were children.The idioms often have some sort of equivalent in
German, and getting students to guess them or explain them can be very funny – just like real

This is very useful as a background to networking/social conversation. People like to compare
experiences, so this often involves setting the scene (past continuous tense), then continuing
in the past simple. I get the class to tell each other a story from work .(One student recounted
recording a funny but untraceable noise, which eventually turned out to be the presenter’s
stomache rumbling!)
I either do this as a whole class activity, or in pairs and then get the partner to re-tell the other
story to the class ( reported speech......)
Stories are also very useful in conversational English – being able to recount experiences or
anecdotes is one way of building up good social relationships, and people still like working
with people they consider to be their friends best! The idiom about „safe as houses“ provides
a nice conclusion to the piece.

This provides enough material for 6 – 8 45-minute lessons. It can be followed up with e-mail
practice (see next point).

E-mail exercises
The sheet of e-mail tasks are divided into groups according to jobs (production manager,
schedule organiser, legal department).They are based on possible tasks from the“ Monster
Moves“ . The class chooses one or more which they feel are most useful to them and sends it
to me.

We are thinking about changing the e-mail tasks into partner tasks, where the students write to
each other, taking on various roles, to practise requesting and giving information.

The skype programme allows for up to 9 people to skype at any one time. I arrange skype
sessions as follow ups based on the e-mails that they have written ( we can discuss
prices/number of days/hours/ rooms........) or to answer queries or simply to „ chat.“ The take-
up of this has been hampered by the lack of provision of the skype programme at all the
workplaces. It is gradually being installed, and I hope the take-up will improve. People have
skyped with me from home or from hotels whilst away on courses elsewhere in the country.
Its advantage over teleconferencing is that it is free and does not have to be booked.

Opposites: ( some suggestions)
Career – grind to a halt(!), go straight, (trundle, plod)
Hurtle- go slowly
Grind to a halt – start, pick up speed(!)
Present a hazard – point out the collocation of present a hazard and not ususall a danger – be
Crash/smash – ( come to a )stop ( just short of..)
Haul – carry
Lumber – ( also felled wood ) walk lightly, dance/trip ( vehicles must just speed)
Gather speed – slow down
Breakneck speed – drive slowly, have a vehicle under control
Topple – stand erect
Perilous – safe
To be in jeopardy – to be safe/ in safety
Exposed to danger – be kept safe

Other things
– whatever they can think of – machinery,elephants,any from of transport, bricks, etc..

A tight spot
- this another great opportunity for your students to talk about their experiences – this
produces a lot of stories – DIY stories, work, silly things people do, when they were children,
sport stories( skiing,bungee-jumping.....)

Danger idioms
-idioms often have some sort of equivalent in other languages. See if the students can work
them out or offer explanations ( often funny)


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