A television presenter is midway through his bulletin outside Lancaster Town Hall when suddenly the shadow of a fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex looms overhead.
Thankfully there is no need to panic. While a group of film-makers have indeed let dinosaurs loose in Lancaster city centre, it’s all through special effects for a new online video channel.
LuneTube features short clips covering everything from buried treasure on Morecambe Promenade to an iconic phone box in Priest Hutton.
The film-makers say their aim is to show the beauty of North Lancashire but also quirky pieces of heritage and local stories that may not be widely known.
The dinosaurs feature in the first film - released online last month – about Lancaster-born scientist Sir Richard Owen, who coined the word ‘dinosaur’.
Through special effects wizardry, the creatures are shown wandering round Dalton Square and King Street.
Professional film-maker Janine Bebbington of Lancaster directs and edits the films and used CGI to produce a T-Rex stalking the very streets where Richard Owen grew up.
Janine taught film and television production at Lancaster and Morecambe College before going on to set up local company Gorgeous Media.
“It’s amazing that such a significant figure as Owen is unknown to many Lancastrians”, says Janine. “There is a pub named after him in the city and people we spoke to in there didn’t realise who he was.”
The team’s plan is to release a short video every Friday capturing different aspects of the area’s fascinating history and there are already four of the mini features online. As well as Lancaster, Morecambe provides a rich source of forgotten heritage. The LuneTube team has produced a film about the town’s lost cinemas (there were once 14, during the resort’s heyday) and even discovered a memorial garden for cinema workers in a local cemetery.
Janine said: “It a very moving but hidden piece of our history. Cinema was a huge part of local life - the fact there is a memorial garden shows its significance.
“There are so many untold or lost stories of our heritage around here that we thought it would be interesting to produce a collection of films to encourage everyone to look closer at what’s around them. These films are short, entertaining and fun and hopefully will get people talking about and sharing their own local history stories.”
Morecambe-based historian David Chandler presents a number of the films, as well as writing the scripts. He said: “I’ve always had an interest in this sort of stuff. I like exploring what’s around me and if I see something that looks old, I want to know it’s history.
“It’s all just for fun and hopefully people will enjoy them. It’s a great advert for our district.”
Graham Fagan also contributed to some of the film ideas and his two-year-old son Louis also starred in one of the films covering Georgian Lancaster in his first ever acting role.
The films also feature more rural settings and the crew have travelled to locations as diverse as a disused quarry in Silverdale and the village green in Priest Hutton, which is the location of an iconic red telephone box. LuneTube has also become more ambitious as they get more films under their belt.
“To start with, we were shooting and editing a short film in a matter of hours”, says Janine. “But now we’ve had actors dressed in Georgian costume, special effects and a variety of locations. They’ve become mini epics.”
The team are delighted with the reception the films have received so far. “People love them!” says David. “I think the combination of places they recognise plus history that’s often new to them - that’s a potent mix.”
“Our films are a fantastic advertisement for North Lancashire. We consider ourselves fortunate to live here. Not only does it look beautiful, but it’s also packed with interest. There are big attractions like Lancaster Castle but also fascinating little details to enjoy too.”
“If someone goes to a Visitor Information Centre in the area and asks about something they’ve seen on LuneTube, we’d be very proud!”
For more information, visit www.lunetube.co.uk