Sidmouth’s seasons captured in poetic documentary

Jonny Byczok setting up his camera for a shot Jonny Byczok setting up his camera for a shot

Sunday, May 18, 2014
6:00 AM

The natural beauty of Sidmouth in all the seasons has been captured on camera in a poetic documentary by a budding filmmaker.

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A still of an interview with the Reverend Handel Bennett of the Sid Vale Association from Jonny Byczok's documentaryA still of an interview with the Reverend Handel Bennett of the Sid Vale Association from Jonny Byczok's documentary

Surrey university student Jonny Byczok has been coming to the town since he was a boy and saw it as somewhere he could share far and wide.

He was inspired by its landscapes, but looked closer and discovered some fascinating, reflective stories from its residents and historic visitors.

“I’ve been visiting once or twice every year of my life, always seeing different, interesting things on offer – but it’s not all that well known to the rest of England,” the 20-year-old said.

“I really just wanted to film Sidmouth for its beautiful beaches and views, then started looking into its history. It turned into a poetic documentary of Sidmouth’s past and present.”

He interviewed the likes of Sidmouth in Bloom’s Lynette Talbot and Peter Endersby, Sidmouth Museum chairman Nigel Hyman and the owners of the Royal Glen hotel.

He was directed on his way by Fortfield Terrace author Peter Fung, his mum’s cousin, as he selected stories for each of the seasons.

“Everyone I interviewed was really interested and more than up for taking part,” said the Hampshire resident. “I want to thank them all for helping me – I couldn’t have done it without them.”

The documentary looks at flower planting and the legacy of Keith Owen in the spring, and poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s links to Fortfield Terrace in the summer.

The autumn is devoted to Peter Fung’s late mother Joan and her 100th birthday, and the Duke of Kent’s ill-fated visit in the winter.

The film is overlaid with a voiceover of poetic readings on reflections on the town.

In making it, Jonny took inspiration from the cinematography of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth series and the documentaries of Werner Herzog.

He has finished editing the film and is now looking into entering it into festivals and screening it somewhere in the town. Staff at Sidmouth Museum have already requested a copy.

“I would love to screen it, and I think the people of Sidmouth would like to see it,” Jonny added. He thanked his camera assistant and sound manager, Jacob Brigden, composer Chris Griffin, Matt Jackson, who did the lighting, second camera operator Alex Hedger and local performing arts student Joanna Graciano, for the voiceover.

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