Filmed in Supermarionation | This definitive look at Gerry Anderson’s iconic 1960s TV puppet series is FAB!
STAND BY FOR ACTION!
This documentary, directed and produced by Stephen La Rivière, is the definitive look at how Gerry and Sylvia Anderson pioneered what was to become their trademark in filmmaking using marionettes – Supermarionation, and celebrates the creative team behind the shows that have become TV history. It’s also a must-see/must have for Thunderbirds aficionados and Fandersons everywhere!
Thunderbirds‘ Lady Penelope and her loyal chauffeur Parker guide us through the history of the Anderson’s iconic small and big screen adventures, incorporating a wealth of new interviews (led by the Andersons’ son Jamie) with the studio’s original puppeteers, artists and craftsmen and previously unseen archive footage.
Starting out as AP Film in a makeshift studio at Islet Park in Maidenhead, the Anderson’s created The Adventures of Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy and Four Feather Falls (which signalled the birth of Supermarionation), before moving to a small Ipswich Road factory on the Slough Trading Estate (today a car repair shop), where they produced Supercar and Fireball XL5. AP Films’ fortunes took off in 1963 when Lew Grade bought into the company. Moving to new premises on the Estate, the company’s next effort Stingray was shot in ‘Videocolor’ and premiered on UK TV in October 1964 (five years before the colour service began on ITV).
But the crowning glory of the Supermarionation shows was 1965’s Thunderbirds. Inspired by a real-life mine disaster in Germany at the time, the series followed the daring exploits of International Rescue, headed up by ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons. Bringing big film techniques to the small screen (courtesy of unsung hero Derek Meddings) made this the star of children’s TV of the day, and featured two characters that have become iconic: the Emma Peel inspired Lady Penelope (voiced by and modelled on Sylvia Anderson) and Parker (voiced by David Graham, who based the character on a waiter he once met). Lew Grade loved it so much; he made them into 50-minute episodes.
In 1966, AP Films became Century 21 Cinema Productions to reflect its space age image. It was a glorious time for the tiny Slough-based company, but their golden goose laid a bad egg in Thunderbirds Are Go!, which crashed at the box-office and spelled the end of the series. The following year, Captain Scarlet battled the Mysterions in a dark sci-fi which was also the first to feature non-caricatured puppets in human scale, while Joe 90 centred on the adventures of a school boy turned super spy.
Anderson’s Secret Service in 1968, however, was also a dud, as it awkwardly tried to marry puppets with live action and featured a language that no one could understand. It was his last puppet TV show until 1980s Terrahawks, as he then threw himself into his live-action adventures, beginning with Doppelgänger (for the big screen) and UFO (for TV), which wasn’t good news for the Slough crew who had to stand by and tearfully watch 12 years of their hard work get dumped unceremoniously into skips. The puppet era was well and truly over.
• Deleted Scenes Package: A selection of material that was unused in the final documentary.
• Filming in Supermarionation: a 3-minute short about filming the puppets and effects for the documentary.
• Special Effects Reel: a reel of the special effects shot for the documentary.
• Gerry and Sylvia in America: colour footage shot by Barry Gray of Gerry and Sylvia at the World’s Fair in New York. With new music track.
• Tomorrow’s World: Behind the scenes at Century 21 looking at their video assist system.
• Something for the Children: interview with Sylvia Anderson for the BBC.
• Parade Behind the Scenes (with sound synced up): colour behind the scenes film.
• Lord Mayor and Thunderbird 3 (silent)
Posted on December 11, 2014, in Cult classic, Cult Film News, Documentary, Must See, Sci-Fi and tagged Cult classic, Cult Film News, Documentary, Filmed in Supermarionation, Gerry Anderson, Must See, Network Distributing, Sci-Fi, Stephen La Rivière, Supermarionation, Thunderbirds. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.