Tales from a Broad – the making of the film

Jason // March 22 // 24 Comments

The flatness of the landscape messed with my inspiration. My Muse had fled, apparently, across the vast reedbeds and out of sight beyond a very distant horizon.

Yet I had to pull the threads of the Norfolk Broads together regardless. A deadline loomed, an audience for the premiere of my new film was building, a film which didn’t even twinkle in my eye yet. Twelve days to delivery!

East Anglia was quite new to me. Apart from a brief holiday with Nicola and a long ago shoot of a distant Ely cathedral commissioned by Woman & Home magazine for a travel piece, I was a stranger in a strange land. And it was early March. What could possibly go wrong!

Beginners luck

Day one brought an unexpected dose of beginners luck as I trod the paths of a nature reserve huddled deep in the fenlands. The warden had told me they had European Cranes the previous day ‘so close you could see their eyes’. ‘Today you’ve got chainsaws’ she parried with a half grimace half smile. ‘Thanks for that’ I thought.

Lugging my Canon atop a heavy Manfrotto tripod I yomped to the furthest part of the reserve, hoping the whine would diminish with the distance. It didn’t. However lunchtime came, the chainsaw gang took their break and I was able to make hay for an hour or two. Incredibly, my first film clip was blessed by a beautiful Marsh Harrier on which I let the camera roll for several minutes as he pirouetted in front of me against a backdrop of hazy, misty marshland.

The River Yare also provided me with a variety of opportunities which I caught despite the renewed buzz from across the way. Eventually I loped off with perhaps ten minutes of footage in the bag, leaving the trees to their fate on the riverbanks.

We awoke to drizzle on Friday. Nicola headed off to the archives of Norwich to continue her family history research and I drove around the lanes in a failed attempt to find a high point from which to shoot a sunset should one arise.

A tiny woodland

As the clouds cleared I ventured out to explore what appeared to be interesting locations on the map and found a couple of places that held promise. One was a path that rambled around the edge of a broad and up a fast flowing cut into marshland, the other spot was over a gate and into a tiny woodland which was threaded with deer trods. I followed them, as you always must, and hatched a plan.

Day three was easier. The land began to let me in. I felt the prickle of inspiration and sensed a growing awareness of a story developing between us. Tales of big skies, boundaries and reflections followed me and I did my best to catch these fleeting moments of lucid connection before they slipped away into the rippling reeds.

At the ends of the days I staked out the tiny woodland, backing myself into thickets of hawthorn, waiting for the emergence of the deer who did indeed cooperate and gave me some much needed animal action to supplement the sparse landscape scenery. Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer magnified the power of this land for me, encapsulating the messaging that was becoming clearer as the end of our trip loomed.

Sharing the stories

Realising that I still needed some general scenics I spent the final day miles from the nearest road, out in a desolate marsh with Egrets and wildfowl for company. Here it all finally came together. I got it. I knew the stories this place chose to share with me and could only hope that I had sufficient material in the can to tell these Tales from a Broad.

Fast forward through a long drive home, I soon realised that my usual practice of setting the film to music would not work. The Broads were just too quiet for that. So I set to and created my own soundscape from the audio the landscape had given me - bird song, ripple flow, wind through the reedbeds, crow caw. It seems to work. See what you think…

See more Tales from the Land

  • Ethereal, subtle, mystical, and above all Real. You have captured the lustrous magic of the broadland, Jason, and the departure from your usual incorporation of music is more than balanced by the arrival, just at a perfect time, of the lyrical melody of your Voice, reciting with grace and poise the words of your own inimitable Earthlightening. Bravo!

  • Personally I find this a bit gloomy. At this time of year it would be nice to see spring awakening. Nice sunset though.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts Jenny, and for sticking with it to the end. Yes, this film would never be everyone’s cup of tea. I didn’t set out to capture the onset of spring, rather I wanted to convey just what nature showed me. And this was the Norfolk Broads in mid March. I have another spring based film which is more along the lines of what you may be looking for, here’s the link.

  • The natural sounds are always a joy to hear. The wind in the reeds is cathartic. Loved the humming of the bees, that always make me happy. The scenery is joyful. I think you captured it very well

  • Wow Jason. my ancestral home is Norfolk and although I no longer live in that area but on the North East coast of the UK , I find that when I do manage to visit the Broads and surrounding areas it cleanses my soul and you have captured that essence in your film, thank you for sharing. Your best yet!

  • Thank you Jason, I saved this to watch when I awoke early in the morning and I was not disappointed. It was beautiful. I spent the rest of the day joyful and uplifted.
    Thank you.

  • Thank you. I caught up with the Spring Equinox replay when I was home alone . I got so much from the session and the learning from Jason’s new film . It was so interesting to hear how you took the time to sit with the landscape and observe to see what messages it had for you especially as it was all new to you . I am so enjoying learning from nature . Thanks to you both for all the sharing of your wisdom and experience x

    • Thank you Sarah. Going slowly has always been my way, ever since I first picked up a camera and learned that nature had much to say if we gave time to listen.

  • Ps I especially loved the sound of the wind blowing through the rushes . The whole energy was really muted with that mellow soft light that we still enjoy at this time of year . The edges of the seasons have always fascinated me . To see the changes every day and see Spring emerging now is even more special .

    • This was probably my slowest film yet. It was fun to put together and perhaps sets in motion a new approach from me. Thank you.

  • Thanks Jason, I think I prefer the natural sounds rather than music, with the images on full screen I’m there. Borders was amazing like a furry Mondrian painting with the textures of the reed beds and the black line of the water. A very enjoyable watch.
    Cheers Rob

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Rob. I too enjoy the natural sounds and the soundscape, perhaps more than music. It’s an approach I’m going to explore more.

  • Amazing filming once again Jason ❤️ 20 minute downtime for me enjoying the beauty of the fens … wonderful, thank you x

  • Just beautiful Jason ..the reeds …..the birds coalescing in the sky…the progression…the sounds…the creatures….

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    About the Author Jason

    Jason follows his lifelong vocation as a countryside photographer who tries to catch the spirit of the places he visits. After decades working as a professional editorial photographer he now focuses much of his time on conceptual fine art photography, visual storytelling and in aiding others to follow their creative calling.