Valgas Moore: Film Director
Growing up in the movement, I would hear stories about an early member from England, who had donated some farmland to the church many years ago. The story was always told with an emphasis on the donation, and less about the person - Henry Masters.
Matthew Huish approached me to direct this project, originally pitched as a short sit-down interview, largely for the purpose of documenting the Masters’ testimony, and sent me a copy of Henry’s autobiography to brush up on some of the details. However, just 30-40 pages in, I already knew that a simple interview wasn’t going to cut it. I discovered half a lifetime richly lived, full of loss, love and life, country side living and international adventures. All this before ever coming into contact with the movement - long before the subject of the stories I’d heard as a boy.
Not only is the content of Henry’s book fascinating, but the turn of phase, demeanor and articulation is all from a time long past. David Hanna puts it well in his foreword in the book as “a window into something notoriously elusive: Englishness.” It was important to me that I try and convey some of that in the film. So often when videos are made about the history of our movement, they come adorned with images of golden cranes, 3D titles and spinning globes. This film, like Henry’s character, wanted to be understated, considered and soft spoken.
The production took over 4 months in total - most of this time spent writing and re-reading the autobiography. I often felt uneasy choosing what to include and what to leave out. Ollie Davies and Toby Suda helped with this task, and the three of us spent long days discussing and crafting a narrative that we hoped would balance content, pacing and run time. Next came production - we crossed our fingers for good weather, and travelled to the small village of Stanton Fitzwarren, both subject and backdrop of the film. Samuel Shongwe joined us as the sound recordist. I chose to use vintage nikon lenses, paired with low-contrast filters, in an attempt to elicit a nostalgic and timeless feeling. For the interview portions, I wanted to make sure all the lighting felt motivated by practical fixtures in the room, hopefully evoking a feeling as if we had just popped round for a cup of tea and a chat. The longest portion of time in post-production was spent sourcing and crafting the music into the desired effect. I could go into lots more detail about the technical processes, but I’m sure most readers would lose interest.
I am pleased to say that the Masters were happy with the film, and felt grateful that the movement invested time and money to tell part of the story of their early life. Perhaps in the future there will be an opportunity to tell the next few chapters.
If the film touched you in any way, I would highly recommend reading the book - The Eye of a Needle: My Life of Faith by Henry Masters.
If you’re interested in keeping up with my work in the future, you’re welcome to follow me on instagram @ValgasMoore