The making of the film "500th Anniversary of the Consecration of the altar in the Church of St. Lawrence"
by Werner Scheffknecht, Chairman of the Bludenz Film and Videoclub
Over a year ago 4 members of the Bludenz Film and Video Club decided to produce a documentary to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the consecration of the church altar.
Initially we had only vague ideas and visions of how the film should look. The extensive research work and the time-consuming filming soon brought us down to earth and back to reality. Sometimes it even brought the project to a standstill.
Thankfully, we received knowledgeable support from the historians Dr. M. Tschaikner and Mag. Dr. A. Rudigier. Much of the information had to be assembled, but it also had to be checked for plausibility. We found some useful material in a variety of archives, but we often ended up in a dead end and had to leave out some items because there was little or no visual material, especially from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Sometimes, however, our painstaking detection work was crowned with success, such as when we discovered a fragment of a 500 year old relic-certificate in the parish archives. This document – until then rather neglected - lends credibility to the consecration of the high altar over 500 years ago and represents an invaluable document for the history of the venerable church.
We had another success when researching the Baroque high altar, which was built from a black, marble-like stone. It was known that it had been mined in the region, but there was great uncertainty about the precise location. We managed to track down an “eyewitness” approximately 80-year-old, who knew all about the mining area in the Bingser Gasse (beside Bludenz). He had even hauled such stones himself. We could determine the mining area and there found "marble" pieces for ourselves and thus had a valuable, authentic contribution to our film.
From this variety of material the script was written based on a comprehensive, self-generated chronicle of the last 500 years of the church.
The ensuing filming was structured very elaborately. In the tower that is almost 50 m high, we underwent intensive fitness training, as we climbed dozens of times from the ground right up to the onion-shaped dome.
The shots of the peal were a challenge - in a confined space, it was difficult to find suitable angles.
Fortunately, we were able to avoid hearing damage, which might have been almost inevitable at a distance of 1 meter from a 3.5-ton bell. It should also be noted here that the feast peal was rung at our request in the middle of the day. This resulted in amazement if not panic among the Bludenz population. In former times this festival bell served alongside a siren as a disaster warning!
Our shots took us to the huge 500 year old roof of the nave. We soon knew most of the woodworm by name, and swallowed masses of 500 year old dust.
We set ourselves the challenge of incorporating some special camera angles in the film.
We were able to get an exciting camera shot from the roof through the ceiling and down into the vault - about 10 seconds of film, after 20 hours of work. This was achieved on the 4th attempt with a specially made rig.
A camera crane was also used for shots inside.
A complex tracking shot along the bell tower with a drone enabled us to catch unique perspectives.
The big moment came on 26 October when we could project our 32-minute film in the church with a high-performance projector onto a large screen. The church was filled to the last seat with 400 visitors.
Our long work and the enormous effort were rewarded with prolonged applause.
For the club members who took part in this project over a shoot of 1¼ years the work was associated with fun, excitement and many new experiences. There are already enquiries about new projects – we never run out of ideas and topics.