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Behind the Scenes of BRM’s ‘The Chrysalis’ Film

  • wonderhatch
  • Sep 20, 2021

Background to the film

There’s nothing quite like the roar of the V16. The iconic sound still draws a crowd to this day, whether for nostalgia, curiosity, or childish awe. This is a short film about that noise, the infamous engine of the BRM P15 V16, and the reaction it draws.

‘The Chrysalis’ film, the second in BRM’s series after the success of ‘The Re-Awakening‘, is to support the announcement that the first new V16 engine has been successfully built and tested. Unlike the ‘Re-Awakening’ which featured no cast, this is a film about human reaction to the sound of a beast, awakening from a 70 year slumber.

Significance of the locations

The film is shot in a number of significant locations. RAF Folkingham where the original P15 V16 was unveiled to the world’s press on 15th December 1949 Bourne, Lincolnshire – the capital and spiritual home of BRM since its inception in 1949 but it is also where Hall & Hall are based and where the new V16’s are being built. Within the scenes at Bourne, there are significant and poignant nods to the past. These include:

RAF Folkingham: RAF Folkingham became the main testing centre for BRM in the late 1940’s early 1950’s, and was where the V16 development and engine testing was carried out. RAF Folkingham has been closed for many years, but some of the original BRM testing houses and buildings still exist and the engineering team behind the V16 build, Hall & Hall, use one such building as a Dyno testing house.

Raymond Mays’ House: Eastgate House, former residence of BRM founder Raymond Mays, can be seen in the background of some shots.

Glass wall: The green glass wall of the original testing house, made famous by the British photographer Louis Klemantaski when he used it as a backdrop for BRM’s press pictures the night before the V16’s original launch, feature throughout.

Eastgate: A brief view of Eastgate, where Mays famously used to drive the V16 down the road from the testing house, can be seen in the background of the film.

The final scene is shot in the village of Dunsby, situated some 4.5 miles as the crow flies from the original V16 testing shed, and is representative of the calls that Hall and Hall get from admirers who call in to say that they could hear the wonderful sound of the V16 drifting across the fens up to 6 miles away.

The Cast

Unlike the Re-Awakening which featured no cast, this is a film about human reaction to the sound of the engine, and so it was incredibly important to bring people to the forefront of the film.

BRM is a brand of the past and the future, with one of the key aims being to introduce the BRM story to a new audience. It is therefore brilliant to emphasise that ambition through the film, having both ex-mechanic Dick Salmon, who worked on the original cars in period, star alongside young persons who are discovering the road of the V16 for the first time. John Owen also stars in the film. John is the son of Sir Alfred Owen, the proprietor of BRM racing cars and recipient of the Ferodo trophy as ‘the man who had done the most for British racing’ in 1963. John plays the conductor in ‘The Chrysalis’ film, and commissioned the build of the new V16 car as a memento for the nostalgia he feels for this iconic British marque. The rest of the cast are made up of local Bourne and Dunsby residents (except one of the students who is John Owen’s granddaughter).

Hidden Meanings

There is a nod to the unfinished BRM story as the camera pans past the revered Doug Nye BRM Bible Vol 1-3, leaving a gap for the final book.

Behind the Scenes

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