I’ve been watching The Glitterball, another Children's Film Foundation film made in 1977.
It’s on a DVD called Outer Space and features 'three cosmic tales from the Children’s Film Foundation’.
It’s the story of two young lads meeting an alien from another planet. As films of this nature were shot on a minuscule budget, expecting to see a convincing monster from outer space would have been a no-no, so director and writer Harley Cokeliss came up with the idea of a simple silver ball that through its antics would create a charming and believable character.
A booklet that accompanies the DVD has a piece written by Harley Cokeliss himself on the production of The Glitterball.
Being a relatively ambitious production for the C.F.F. , Harley knew he’d have to pull in a few favours to get some believable effects for the limited budget.
Through a mutual friend, Harley met with Brian Johnson, who at the time was supervising the model and effects work on Gerry Anderson’s Space: 1999.
Brian was happy to help out, but needed Gerry’s okay. Harley met with Gerry at his Bray Studio offices, who generously gave his blessing to the project.
Brian and his crew managed to film flying scenes of the Mothership and create a working model of the Glitterball’s spacecraft complete with lights and an opening hatch.
The Glitterball was given life for the complicated action scenes by Barry Leith, using stop-motion. (Barry had previously done some fine work on The Wombles TV series), and Charlie Page, a veteran prop maker and special-effects man who used compressed air to give the Glitterball convincing movement and intention.
Filmed during 1977, the film has lots of props which were contemporary for the time, which I remember well, and I'm always fond of spotting.
The pages from poster magazine SCI-FI monthly make several appearances. I remember picking up a few editions of that publication fairly regularly at the time as it featured several articles on Space:1999.
Posters from the magazine of the USS Enterprise, as well as The Mekon can be seen on the walls of the lads' tree house. There's original Aurora kits of the Enterprise and the Klingon Battle Cruiser hanging from the ceiling too.
There’s also House of Hammer and The Ghoul mags on the Tree house floor.
This isn’t a film I saw at the Saturday morning pictures (I would have been too old to get in by that time!). I first watched it during the Christmas holidays during 1980, but watching it again, I still think it’s a charming and nostalgic production.