In 1964 a small group of school leavers started making films as a circle of friends on the smallest film gauge of 8 millimetre – hence the Group’s name. In the Group’s early days, Circle Eight produced a procession of slapstick comedy films, one of which became the longest amateur film ever made in the UK at that time. Made in 1965, it lasted for 3 hours 41 minutes with two intermissions!
Since the early 1980s, Circle Eight has concentrated on producing historical local interest films featuring the legends and folklore of Surrey and its county town Guildford. The first of these ‘The Tales of Olde Guildford’ was premiered in 1984 and its sequel ‘The Tales of Olde Surrey’ followed in 1989. Both films have now been seen by over 50,000 people from all over Surrey and beyond and are also available on VHS video from the Guildford Borough Council’s Tourist Information Centre.
Throughout the 2000s, Circle Eight continued to make video productions for entry into annual local and national film competitions and enjoyed further success with them. However these productions initially took second place to the completion of our major Millenium project ‘The Tales of the Pilgrims Way’, in which a group of Morrismen dance their way along the old pilgrims way from Winchester to Canterbury, investigating the tales, history and folklore to be encountered along the 133 mile route.
The acquisition of a DVCPro video camera in 2001 was the first step in the changeover from film to video for future work. In May 2002 we were successful in receiving a lottery grant from ‘Awards for All’ for the purchase of a new video projector, enabling our current and future productions to be shown using the video format.
With a grant from Guildford Borough Council, we were able to produce a 79 minute video ‘Royal Guildford’ to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Circle Eight celebrated its 40th Anniversary in March 2004, for which we produced an autobiographical movie ‘Eight over Forty’. Filming was also completed that year of ‘The Grand Hall’. Our 13 minute local history production ‘The Story of Guildford’ won the top award at the Surrey Film & Video Festival in 2006, and our comedy production ‘With a Purposeful Gait’ was also an award winner in 2007. ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Trapped’ completed our film making activities for this decade.
Our Chairman Terence Patrick was elected Mayor of Guildford for 2011/12 and so was forced to take a back seat from making films for a year. However, further awards were won in IAC Competitions for ‘Remembering Ted’ and ‘Unfinished Business’. A re-edited and shortened version of our local interest feature films ‘The Tales of Olde Guildford’ and ‘The Tales of Olde Surrey’ was completed under the new title of ‘Surrey Tales’ and proved popular with local audiences. By now, all our productions are being shot on our newly acquired Sony High Definition widescreen camera.
Circle Eight’s editing equipment was upgraded with the purchase of a new laptop and Matrox system. As a result, we re-edited and dubbed new versions of stories from our previous ‘Tales’ series of local interest films to make two stand-alone productions – ‘The Holy Rood of Grace’ and ‘Mother Ludlam’s Cauldron’. A new comedy film ‘Crumbs’ was completed towards the end of the year, which involved every member of the group in front of the camera (some of them for the first time).
The Club was responsible for the projection of the British International Film Festival’s Award WInners show at Sittingborne in Kent, during the weekend of April 16th and 19th. Circle Eight entered four films for the Festival and won awards for ‘Zeppelins over Guildford’, an animated excerpt from ‘Guildford in the Great War’, as well as ‘Crumbs’, ‘The Boatman’ and ‘The Picture Book’. Production has now started on another local history documentary on the history of Hindhead and the construction of the A3’s Hindhead Tunnel, which opened in 2011.
As part of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers’ celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of Super 8mm film, we were proud to be invited to show our documentary ‘Tug’ which was a Ten Best Award winner in 1979.
The latest production from our animator, Norman Lilley, had success at the 2017 IAC and SERIAC film competitions. Titled ‘The Tooth Fairy at Christmas’, the film won a 3 star award at the IAC British International Amateur Film Competition and won the Paterson Cup for Best Animation at the SERIAC Film Festival.
We participated in the 20th Anniversary celebrations of Guildford’s Electric Theatre in July with a showing of ‘Grandad’s Picture Palace’ and ’50 Not Out’.
Filming has been completed of interviews with a fascinating couple for our new production ‘Out of The Blue’. Hazel was a child film star in the 1930’s and was billed as England’s answer to Shirley Temple. Peter was a member of the famous Pathfinder squadron during World War II. Research is underway to select suitable stills for inclusion in this film.
Shooting of the atmospheric drama ‘The Dream’ was concluded in September with a successful shoot at Wittering Beach. Editing has now started and is likely to take up the next few months.
Filming has now been completed on our new local interest documentary ‘Tunnel under Hindhead’. Work is now underway on transcribing the interviews which we had filmed with local people affected by the Tunnel and its construction. Finalisation of the script and editing work will follow in early 2018.
The Group had success with a number of films this year with ‘Out of the Blue’ winning two of the top awards at the South East Region Film Festival. Our recent drama ‘The Dream’ won a 3 star award at the British International Amateur Film Festival, and the animated film ‘Moonshine’ by Norman Lilley won the South East Region’s Patterson Award for Animation.
This year saw the revival of our original ‘Tales’ film – ‘The Tales of Olde Guildford’. This film was first shown 35 years ago in 1984. As part of the Guildford Festival, the film was shown at the Guildford Guildhall to an appreciative audience who enjoyed this glimpse at Guildford from the past.
We have now converted our show ‘The Mayors of Guildford’ from a live performance format to an entirely filmed show and this was premiered in the Autumn.
Plans were being formulated for the Group’s next production, which was hoped to be a comedy, but unfortunately these plans were seriously interupted by the restrictions surrounding Covid-19. Sadly all shows for local groups had to cease, and film production became impossible. Meetings of the group have all moved online with a regular Zoom quiz providing some entertainment. Nevertheless, during this year our animation specialist Norman successfully completed his latest film ‘The Lady of Shallot’.
Research started in the autumn on our proposed documentary regarding Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Built in the 1960’s, the theatre is named after the French actress Yvonne Arnaud who lived in Guildford in the 1950’s. The current management of the theatre are assisting us with our research and their help is much appreciated.
We are pleased to announce that the animation film ‘The Lady of Shallot‘ has won the prize for the best animation film at the SERIAC Film & Video Festival. Congratulations to our long time animator Norman Lilley.
With continued restrictions due to Covid 19, film production work has been slow. It is hoped to progress work on our next production regarding the history of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford once the worst of the pandemic is over.