The mission was to do a shoot at Lillesden School for Girls in Kent. The location has been featured in the movie 28 Days Later and an episode of Doctor Who. It was basically a big empty spooky looking place that had fallen into disrepair. Graffiti on the walls, wallpaper ripped off, bricks on the floor. The kind of place where you could do a spooky asylum type shoot.
I would be shooting Sam, the mighty leader of Portrait X, a modelling group I do things with. To assist us we had Sam's boyfriend Marc, and Darrin from Stripe Brothers Photography. This was in August 2015. Awesome day for a shoot. Sun shining, nice drive to the location. Then when we were about five minutes away one of my rear tyres exploded. We managed to sort that out with the help of a friendly man who lived just over the road from where we stopped. We asked him about the school and he said that building work had already started there. This wasn't good for our plans of a spooky school type photo shoot.
Soon we were back in the car and driving slowly past the entrance of the school and down the lane. We could see a load of vans and building site type vehcles scattered about through the gaps in the trees. We decided to go in anyway and parked in the car park of the gate house. We took our things and quietly snuck round the side of the gate house and made our way up to the house.
The front entrance was open and we could hear a radio on. We knocked, deciding that we might get somewhere by just asking whoever was there if we could just take some photos. There was no reply, so we chose to walk down to the grounds. Even if we couldn't shoot in the school there were definitely some cool spots around the school that would be perfect.
So we set up, I started to take some photos of Sam and all was good in the world.
Then after a while we saw three men in the distance walking towards us carrying a carpet. They walked past us and said something about playing "carpet bowls".
They then sat about a hundred metres away from us on the carpet and started drinking beer. We carried on with what we were doing until the smallest of the men shouted over to us. He was inviting us to play carpet bowls. Various shouting and things went on for about five minutes until he walked over and started talking to us. We declined his 'carpet bowls' offer a few more times and then he offered to show us around the school. He was friendly, but drunk and annoying, and I just knew we weren't going to get any more photos done with him there.
So we took up his offer to see the school. We'd driven miles to get there so we might as well see what was inside. By that time his two friends had come over. They looked like dodgy Irish pikeys in their early twenties. The smaller dude was in his forties. He was definitely their leader. The other two wouldn't of said shit to us without him there. All they mainly did was snigger at his crap jokes.
I started filming as we walked up to the school. The three carpet bowlers in front, then me, then Sam, Marc and Darrin a bit behind. Not sure why I started filming. Maybe I thought it would make a good blog or something. Or maybe in case they did anything weird, like kill us, it might help the police if the SD card got found.
So the older dude, let's call him Turbo Knob Jockey, went into a caravan to get something. Not quite sure what he was getting, but I waited outside as the others caught up to where I was. Then we all walked around to the back of the school. This is where things started to get a bit weird.
There was a big hole leading down into a basement type room, and he said "you gotta go down there.....after you" and gestured for me to go down. I didn't want to appear to be a chicken, so I got down the hole.
Then I'm in an underground room. I wait for Turbo Knob Jockey to get down and then the two pikeys.
Turbo Knob Jockey then started leading me round saying "this is the last of it now bruv" and pointing out things and saying that no one else will see it like this.
The vibe was kind of chilled. I didn't really feel in any great danger. The two pikeys were acting a bit moody, but that didn't phase me. Then we had reached the end of the well lit corridors and the only place left to look down was a really dark tunnel.
Turbo Knob Jockey asked if I had a torch. I said that I didn't. Then after some chatting I found myself following them down this really dark tunnel. The only light we had was the light on one of the pikey's phones. Now during our whole time togther Turbo Knob Jockey was carrying a radio that was playing some indie music pretty loud, but as we were walking down the tunnel the music started to cut out.
The lack of background music then made this whole experience a bit scary. It was about that time I realise that Sam, Marc and Darrin didn't follow me down the hole into the underground room, and I started to wonder what the end game of Turbo Knob Jockey and his minion pikeys was.
We got to the end of the tunnel. Things then got a whole lot spookier. The two pikeys walked into a pitch black room and Turbo Knob Jockey waited by the entrance of the room and told me to get in.
I was a bit hesitant. I really didn't want to go in there. I just couldn't see the point of it. Like what would we be doing? Just stand in the room in silence for a few minutes and then leave? I'm a pretty big dude. 18 stone, big manly broad shoulders, but I felt that my mighty man strength wouldn't really do much good in this situation. Pikeys are dodgy fuckers. I've seen Snatch. I was expecting an iron bar wrapped around my head. It was then that Turbo Knob Jockey started pushing me saying shit like "you're not scared are ya?" but I kind of was.
So I found myself standing in the most spookiest room ever with three weirdos expecting an iron bar to be wrapped around my head at any second when I say "I'm going" and I start to walk out of there. My excuse was that it was too dark, which sounded nicer than me telling them that they were a bunch of wronguns.
I walked down the big long tunnel and I could see Marc at the other end. We conversed briefly and then left Turbo Knob Jockey and his spastic pikey crew in the spooky room and went outside.
It was a few minutes before the wronguns joined us outside. During that time however we had planned to go to a castle nearby and take some photos. We just had to say our goodbyes to Mr Knob Jockey and his retarded children and we could still catch the last light of the day. This however proved to be more difficult than one might think.
Turbo Knob Jockey was trying his best to keep us there by offering to show us different things. This went on for about ten minutes. It was beyond uncomfortable. If this was a situation with one of my friends I would of simply said "be quiet" fist bumped them and walked to my car, but I was trying to be polite. I did the whole "thank you for your hospitality, but we really must go now" thing quite a few times. Didn't work though. Then just as our clothes were starting to become unfashionable he let us go.
So he walked us round to the front of the school with the giggly pleb twins, we said our goodbyes and we started to walk to the car. The relief to finally be done with them was quite overwhelming. Like after you dump a psychotic lover and they've finished the hours of crying and pleading with you to stay thing and you can go have a drink and have nothing more to do with them.
We must of been maybe fifty metres away when the fucking dick started calling us back. He wanted us to play carpet bowls. I think during the time it took us to walk fifty metres away he must of conversed with the 'do you like dags?' idiots and chose to annoy us even more. So they start walking over to us, and the carpet bowls conversation starts up again.
I continue with the "it was very nice of you to show us around, but we really should go" thing. The vibe soon changed like it was going to kick off soon. This is when I stopped filming, as I didn't really want to damage my camera while skull fucking this drunken mug puppet. At this point they are walking back to the car with us, and the dick is saying how lucky we are and this could of turned quite bad.
So we finally got to the car, but I had to load up the car with my camera gear and the generator and smoke machine and things, but apparently while I was doing this the pikey twins had gone into the gate house and had got a gun. I didn't see this. I'm guessing it was just a shitty 2.2 rifle thing. I'm also guessing it was just to scare us. I kind of just felt sorry for them when I found out about it though.
Twenty minutes later we were at the castle location. I forget the name of the castle, but it was actually shut.
Luckily there was a reinactment group staying on the grounds though, so it looked kind of open. So we drove in. Managed to shoot for about ten minutes before we got thrown out of there.
What did I learn from this?
That Kent is shit.
.....and here's the footage that I filmed.