Our filming in Newcastle began with a trip to the Sembcorp Biomass Powerstation. Managed by Jane Atkinson, the powerstation is an enormous and awe-inspiring site. In case you don’t know (and I didn’t initially) biomass is anything renewable that can be burned to produce electricity. In the case of the Wilton Biomass Powerstation that is wood. Lots of wood. Tens of thousands of tonnes of it a year.
We took the Sony FS-100 with us on this trip for its 60fps slow motion function (at 1080) and used it extensively to capture the wonderfully visual industrial smörgåsbord on offer. Massive JCBS, massive HGVS, huge logs of wood, massive piles of wood chip. And it was a bright and sunny day (albeit cold!) to match.
We got some great footage outside before moving in to the noisy but no less interesting boiler area where Glynn Jones showed us round. The people we met were incredibly relaxed and good on camera and it was a really great days shooting.
We covered the whole process from the fuel handling to the control room, it’s green 1960′s interior reminding me of many films from a bygone era (Close Encounters of a Third Kind has a room almost the same!). The staff were all friendly and great interviewees.
Another interesting aspect that we wanted to show was where the wood actually came from. Not only do they use recycled wood, from old kitchen worktops etc (from local tips) but also virgin timber from a forest only 40 minutes drive away down in Yorkshire. We knew that students would want to know how chopping down timber and burning it could be renewable so we went to visit to see for ourselves. We met Graham Jackson and drove down a very long and scary road in our Golf until we found the majestic site where they carry out the fell-heading. It was breathtaking to see a forest stripped bare of trees and an amazing filming opportunity to see the machines in action. It was definitely one of the most beautiful things I have ever filmed and I can’t thank Graham enough for taking us round for several hours and putting up with us rather excitedly filming everything in site!
We produced several short films covering the different areas of the powerstation and processes that they undertake to help GSCE students understand how renewable energy works as well as the career opportunities available. We sent Sembcorp the films to check they were happy with what we’d included and they were delighted saying that they were the best films anyone had produced about them. We were delighted to hear this and really enjoyed making the films with them. A great way to start our Newton project. Many thanks to all at Sembcorp for making it happen.