A short while ago, in company with twenty of our junior boys, I had the interesting experience of seeing a film in the making. We watched for
over four hours the efforts to film a scene which would, so we were told, take less than one minute when eventually it is shown upon the
silver screen. This tiny part of the film story depicted the final stage of a marriage service, the newly married couple emerging from the vestry,
turning to bow to the altar and walking arm in arm down the aisle, followed by the officiating priests and the congregation, of whom our lads
formed a part. The proceedings were all very confusing at first, but gradually we were able to sort out what some of the dozens of men and
women around us were doing. There were the Director and Assistant Director, the principal players or film stars, the stand-ins, the camera men,
the wardrobe master and mistress, make-up men, sound effects men, and a score of electricians, carpenters and scene shifters.
Let me try to describe what the scene was like. Inside the huge studio building and looking very small by comparison was a full-sized model of
a church. It had one wall only, the one behind the altar, and no roof. Along one side was a tall structure made of wooden spars, designed to throw
latticed shadows, across the nave. The scene was hemmed in on every side by a forest of steel scaffolding bearing powerful arc lamps. Down the
aisle was laid a metal track along which the great camera was pushed backwards and forwards to follow the movements of the players.
First of all we saw the stand-ins at work. These are people who take the part of the film stars while the scene is prepared and. save them from a
lot of tedious standing about. On this occasion they went through the motions of the scene, coming from the vestry, turning and bowing to the
altar, then walking down the aisle, following the camera, which was being pulled backwards along the track while they advanced. This procedure
was repeated many times until the cameras were correctly adjusted to follow the action. We were just beginning to get tired of watching this
when we recognised two men and a woman chatting with the director as three of the most famous of British film stars. They were certainly not
dressed, for a marriage, the men might have been going to do a spot of gardening—a nice clean job like mowing the lawn—and the woman
prepared to start on the dusting. She looked, very handsome none the less as together they practised the simple motions, of the little wedding
scene and, having done this a dozen times or more, they went away again.
Following this there was a tedious hour for the stand-ins, who went: through it all over again while the -lighting expert and his team of
electricians adjusted the arc -lamps to the correct intensity of light for every point of the route. By this time even the most patient of us became
a little restive, but cheered up again at the sight of our beautiful film star, who now appeared upon the scene dressed for her part as the radiant
bride. Her film bridegroom and the priests were also suitably attired and the scene was enacted again and again, that all might be perfect for
the actual filming. "Cut" ! said the Director. The Leading Lady turned her back on her newly-wedded husband and went into a huddle with the
Director, the priest lit a cigarette and chatted with the wardrobe mistress, the bridegroom conducted a noisy argument with a man who did
nothing else all the afternoon, so presumably was paid to argue with the Leading Man. "Quiet" roared the Assistant Director, "Quiet" ! The
priest pinched out his cigarette, the bridegroom broke off his argument, the beautiful bride stifled a yawn. with her wedding bouquet, and
adjusted her face to her most bewitching smile. "Be Qui—urt"! shouted the Assistant Director. "Action", called his boss, and off we went
again. For the fortieth time the register was signed off-stage, the effects-man turned on the wedding march, loving glances were exchanged
and the triumphal procession began once more beneath the glare of a host of arc-lamps and the indifferent gaze of dozens of carpenters,
electricians, scene shifters and yours truly.
Has all this spoiled the enjoyment of the finished film? Has it destroyed our illusions? I think not. We shall be carried away by the romance
of the occasion, the simple dignity of the priests and the loving smiles of the happy pair. The truth is that we are so easily deceived when we
want to be deceived. If what we are told, or asked to believe, is in line with our natural inclinations we are easy victims to deception. In the
world of entertainment there is no harm in this, but beware of the very real danger which arises from this human weakness in the affairs of our
daily life. Here we must sort out the true from the false and the genuine from the sham. How many times do we see boys sacrifice things of
solid and enduring value, like an honest reputation, a good name, or a trustworthy friendship for fancied trifles that are coveted for the moment.
Good words and good deeds don't need any make-up or elaborate deception; the longer and closer the scrutiny, the better they look. So let us
keep the world of make-believe to beguile a passing hour in the warm comfort of the cinema. Good advice has no glamour appeal,-but is
wholesome and ultimately satisfying. Build a reputation for honesty and dependability, learn to be able to see things you want very much and
have strength of mind to do without them. Feebly following bad examples and snatching at passing pleasures will bring you disgrace and
unhappiness; solid endeavour and high standards of behaviour will bring you the certain joy of self-respect and true friendship. These are plain
truths that cannot be discredited by sly winks or clever talk, so all you Goldings boys, whether thirteen, nineteen, or even twenty-one, take the
advice of your genuine friend and hold fast to those things which are real, sincere and of ultimate benefit to you and to those among whom you live.
R. F. W.