|The Projection Room|
|Type of company||Film production|
|Key people||Chris Hoyle|
The Projection Room, formed in the Spring of 1994, is the now-established name for a 'Doctor Who' fan-film group that has had a number of identities since it's humble beginnings in Nottingham. The group is now, however, primarily based in Leeds in the United Kingdom but with members across the globe.
To date the group have scripted, filmed, directed and produced 8 of their own Doctor Who pieces, namely The Crystal of Achillon (1994), The Invisible Opiate (1995), The Deadly Alliance (1995), A Stitch in Time (1996), Masterplan (2000), Gene Genius (2004) and "The Schrödinger Effect" (2008) and collaborated on a number of others - The Doctor Who Interactive Board Game (1999), The Trial of Davros (2004), The Final Three (2008) & "Pudsai" (2008).
Four new stories, forming a linking arc under the working title The Red Episodes, were scripted for filming in 2009/2010.
The Crystal of AchillonEdit
- Main article: The Crystal of Achillon
The Projection Rooms founder members - Chris Hoyle and Robin Castle - had met at the University of Nottingham in 1990, living in the same halls-of-residence (Cripps Hall) for three years before both Robin and Chris moved out into a shared houses in nearby Beeston. Prior to sowing the seeds of their Doctor Who fandom, both had a long-standing interest in film-making and photography. Robin had a large portfolio of still-image photographic work, whereas Chris had been involved for the last 6 years in making various pastiche films and spoof cinematic-trailers along with fellow students and friends.
In the spring of 1994, toward the end of his University career, Chris was toying with a storyline for a Doctor Who novel when Robin, having some spare time in his gap-year, suggested making a film in the remaining months
before Chris ultimately left to move to Hebden Bridge and Robin, himself, embarked on a post-graduate course.
They decided, between them, to turn Chris' novel idea into a script, and initially wrote the first episode with a view to filming it and appraising the results before committing to filming the remainder of the story.
Having constructed the TARDIS exterior and interior props as well as the title and credit graphics sequences, and pleased with the standard of the first episode, it was decided that the remaining two episodes should also be made.
The final 3-part production, made on a shoe-string budget of £50.00, runs to 56 minutes in duration, and features Chris Hoyle as The Doctor, Robin Castle as The Master as well as Lian Chua as the companion, Leia, and Paul Smart as a member of the Nottinghamshire constabulary.
At this point BBC Doctor Who had been out-of-production for 5 years, with no sign of a return, and the continuity-announcement at the start of this story suggests that the Chris Hoyle Doctor is the next incarnation after the 7th, Sylvester McCoy. Although not filmed, a short novelisation has been put together to link the end of the 7th Doctor's era to the start of Chris Hoyle's tenure, accounting for the regeneration and the introduction of Chris Hoyle's companion Leia. This five-chapter story, entitled The Glass Cage, is available on The Projection Rooms Facebook group-page.
The group - albeit 5 members - were originally working under the name of Chrobbius Inc - an amalgam of the names Chris and Robin.
The Invisible OpiateEdit
- Main article: The Invisible Opiate
Soon after the completion of The Crystal of Achillon, Chris moved to Hebden Bridge to enter the big wide world of work, and - as a consequence of how well-received the first story was - a second was scripted, entitled The Invisible Opiate.
Filmed and produced over the winter months at the end of 1994 and early 1995, this 3-part story ran to 40 minutes duration and had a slightly larger cast with Emma Bone, Alex Travis, Cathy Walker, Joseph McQueeney and Paul Nicholson taking roles as well as Chris Hoyle reprising his interpretation of the Doctor.
Keen to improve on what had been done before, the story was written to incorporate model-work and prosthetics. The model-work ultimately proved too ambitious, unfortunately, but the latex work was handled by Laura Nicholson in the creation of the mask seen in the final episode. A new title-sequence design was developed based around the early 1980s star-field theme and the Peter Howell music was augmented with sounds to coincide with the graphics. As well as taking a performing role, Joseph McQueeney also produced a morphing set of credits for the episodes.
Post-production visual effects work such as the arrival and disappearance of the TARDIS was handled by Matt Cain, a friend of the group, who was completing his Media degree at the University of Bradford at the time. Impressed with the quality and commitment to the previous two productions, he suggested producing a third adventure as his final-year Media degree project - a project named The Deadly Alliance. The script was put together and the intention was to use this next, third, story to tie up the plot-lines from the previous two.
The Deadly AllianceEdit
- Main article: The Deadly Alliance
The Deadly Alliance was scripted, filmed and produced during 1995 and saw Emma Bone and Chris Hoyle return to their previous role of the Doctor and Charlotte McLeod, along with new members Orazio Rea, Simon Wellings, Chris Murray, Ceri McEvoy, David Hobson and Tim Burt.
Once more, the idea was to build on what had previously been achieved, introducing more adversaries and a more complex plot. This was however, with hindsight, an overly ambitious project. In addition to this, unlike the two previous stories (which had been scripted, shot and edited whenever the team had chance until the entire production was complete) with this story there was a definite deadline as to when it had to be finished, as it formed part of Matt's assessment for his degree.
Anxious to submit a piece of work that was good quality and representative of his capabilities in directing, producing and editing, Matt Cain elected to concentrate on submitting one good episode rather than rushing to complete the full three episodes of the story and having the finished article suffer as a consequence.
As a result this story only exists as one complete part plus a reconstructed first part of the second episode, since no more material was recorded. For this reason, The Deadly Alliance has sometimes been compared to Shada, which was plagued by industrial action during it's recording and similarly has chunks of material missing, most noticeably in the later episodes.
Frustrated and disappointed that The Deadly Alliance had not been completed, and with work commitments making it increasingly difficult to coordinate filming between himself and Emma Bone, Chris Hoyle chose to walk away from the fan-film genre at this point.
A Stitch in TimeEdit
- Main article: A Stitch in Time
Later that year, however, Chris was introduced to fellow fans Philip Newton and Gordon England through their mutual friend David Hobson, who Chris had got to know through the Leeds-based Tinderbox Theatre Company, and who had also been involved in The Deadly Alliance. The three of them rekindled Chris' interest in producing fan-films.
Gordon and Phil were keen to have a TARDIS prop in their home, and Chris agreed to help them build a replica of the one used in his initial story, The Crystal of Achillon. The prop was soon complete, and in the time they'd spent on building it Gordon, Phil, Chris and David had suggested a number of light-hearted sketches which could be filmed using their new Police Box. It soon became clear, with the number of suggestions and ideas they'd had, there would be enough material to produce a complete, short story.
The result was serial number 4; a light-hearted 2-part romp called A Stitch in Time, featuring several Doctors. Chris Hoyle reprised his role once more, joined by David and Gordon, whilst Philip took the role of the villain of the piece.
The group was also joined by John Ruth, Vicky Hill, John Moses and Mark Ellis (as Devlin Y'Eri) and during the summer of 1996 filming took place for this 35-minute two-parter. By now Matt Cain had moved away to Saudi Arabia, so visual work was handled by Paul Shields, who Chris knew through his involvement with Cold Blood, Warm Heart.
Encouraged by the new-found enthusiasm and commitment from this reformed group, Chris considered re-making The Deadly Alliance under a new title, a move supported by Gordon England and Philip Newton, who also had a history of amateur film-production themselves.
- Main article: Masterplan
Re-reading the script for The Deadly Alliance, it became clear that with no restrictions on time, a new script could now be written that would do justice to the scale of ideas in the original story. The story was provisionally renamed Cold Fusion as a working title, then finally Masterplan. Scripting began toward the end of 1996.
It soon became clear that coordinating the production was going to be an enormous task. As a consequence filming had to be split across two years, with exterior location work being done throughout 1997 and interior studio work early in 1998. Unlike previous productions, this one required around 12 location sessions and 12 studio sessions in all.
The production boasts an immense cast and crew with Chris Hoyle, Mark Ellis, Gordon England, Philip Newton, Simon Wellings, John Ruth and John Moses returning to roles along with new-recruits Susan Gibson, Phil Reed, David Szlavik, Andi Knowles, Mark Robinson and Janek Heczko. Once again Paul Shields handled the huge amount of post-production visual effects work and Glen Savage's team came on-board to take care of weaponry, props, firearms and live-pyrotechnics.
Seeing this as a significant reinvention, a specially-performed version of the title music was commissioned from musician Mark Hanlon, which would be used on the closing titles of each episode - the first time this had been done by the company.
Throughout the remainder of 1998 and early 1999 Paul Shields worked on the post-production, and editing began in the autumn of the same year. Finally completed in 2000, and the undisputed epic of The Projection Room's back-catalogue, Masterplan's four episodes run to 1 hour & 55 minutes duration. At this point the group went under the name of Independent Video Drama Company.
Gene Genius and "The Schrödinger Effect"Edit
In light of the then-imminent 40th anniversary for Doctor Who, planning began for a fan-Doctor collaboration, initiated by Harry Hayfield through a web-based discussion forum. Contributors from Australia (Matthew Kopelke) as well as the US were also originally involved, and a basic story outline was thrashed out. At this point, for reasons unknown, a number of the interested parties pulled out, but BTR's Matthew Kopelke maintained an interest and a four-Doctors story entitled "The Schrödinger Effect" was scripted to feature Chris Hoyle and David Hobson as incarnations of the Doctor along with Matthew Kopelke and Bill Billingsley in Australia.
Filming started in December 2002 and continued through the following spring, seeing Emma Bone returning to her previous role as Charlotte McLeod along with Simon Wellings and newcomer Paul Walker. Following a news article on the story, animator Chris Brizon entered discussions with Chris Hoyle and came on-board to suggest and handle the large quantity of visual effects, but ultimately pulled out in 2003. With most of the footage recorded but now unable to complete the extensive CGI work Chris Hoyle had no choice but to shelve the production.
The group was, by now, renamed The Projection Room following a brief foray as 4-Sight and Cheeky Monkey Productions - the name ultimately adopted by Adam Manning's team.
In the meantime, through their involvement with the "Doctor Who Exhibition" in Llangollen, Wales, Gordon England and Phil Newton had got to know Judy and David Banes who had often visited the exhibition for their son Johnathan's birthday. Finding the journey to Llangollen from their home in St. Albans a little arduous, the Banes' suggested holding a garden-party for their son's next birthday, with the Llangollen team in attendance to perform Doctor Who re-enactments and short performances similar to those put on at the exhibition in the past.
They also invited Sylvester McCoy & Sophie Aldred to be guests of honour.
At this party, as a consequence of seeing the group's latest production - Masterplan - the Banes' suggested producing a Doctor Who film for their son's birthday and this was negotiated with mutual friend John Field. It was decided, in keeping with the roles they had taken at the Llangollen Exhibition, John Field would play the 3rd Doctor, Gordon would play the Brigadier, Johnathan Banes and his friends would take the roles of U.N.I.T personnel, and Philip Newton, Chris Hoyle and Susan Gibson would take roles along with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.
To add a personal touch to the story, the group suggested using the Banes' own home as one of the story locations, as well as other venues around St. Albans and also up in Leeds. By October 2004 the group's 6th story - a 3-part 60-minute adventure entitled Gene Genius - was complete, and screened as part of Johnathan Banes' birthday celebrations.
With Gene Genius now finished, Chris Hoyle's thoughts turned once more to the still-incomplete 40th anniversary story "The Schrödinger Effect". Along with David Hobson, he started looking at how realistic it would be to complete the production himself, i.e without the help of Chris Brizon, and releasing it for the 45th Anniversary in 2008.
The CGI work was undoubtedly far too extensive for the group to consider handling it themselves, but salvation came in the form of Graham Quince who had seen some of the group's work as well as being involved with several fan-productions himself such as Flight of the Daleks as Shivering Cactus Studios.
Graham took on the immense task of handling the animation work throughout 2007. Unfortunately, though, there was still no sign of the Australian material being shot by Matthew Kopelke and his team so, regrettably, the story had to be edited around just the British material. Fortunately the script had been written with such a contingency in mind, and by April 2008 the group's 7th production - "The Schrödinger Effect" - was complete as a 30-minute single-episode adventure.
It includes contributions from one of the story's original team, Tony Gallichan, providing the very atmospheric closing credit music as well as scoring music for a good portion of the DVD extras, and following on from the impressive involvement of Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred on Gene Genius, this story features a cameo by Colin Baker.
Forthcoming Productions - The Red EpisodesEdit
The group are currently developing a series of four new adventures as a story-arc to be produced over the next few years, and featuring the Gordon England Doctor, the David Hobson Doctor, the Chris Hoyle Doctor, Devlin Y'Eri, Flynn Wright and Charlotte McLeod as returning characters. Each of these stories will be set in two parts, and run to approximately 40 minutes.
The working titles for these four stories are:
- 8 - The Whitechapel Mystery
- 9 - The Light That Lost/The Darkness that Dawned
- 10 - Black Sun
- 11 - Reformation