Wishing you a happy New Year, one week on… 2016 was bittersweet. 2017 is a new hope.
Last summer I embarked upon the exciting and enlightening journey into documentary filmmaking; self-producing Access Granted, a video pilot about audio described performances in theatre.
2017 brings Access Granted version 2.0
The project originally brought together elements of my life and line of work: a foundation performing/producing/studying/working in theatre; a Masters degree in Television Production; partial-sight in my right-eye. Each factor formed the basis of my research and development (R&D) when I started looking into this niche subject area, and since creating the documentary pilot, the concept and content has evolved extraordinarily.
Audio description (often referred to as ‘AD’) is used in many different forms for various services. I won’t go into the particulars – at this point I just wish to share with you my journey and what I envision for this project. I also wish to thank a great many kind people in various guises who have helped along the way.
If you have not yet watched my documentary pilot Access Granted then I urge you to please give 20 minutes of your time to see where this project currently stands and maybe learn something new!
In summer 2014 I set up PerspecTim Productions to self-produce my own online radio show, hosted by Bus Stop Radio, a community radio station set up by a friend from college. Over the previous year I had been reviewing local theatre productions for Radio Winchcombe’s Saturday morning programme; as well as conducting interviews with the cast and crew of various theatre companies. The content that I produced for broadcast on Radio Winchcombe inspired me to try something new with my online PerspecTim show.
PerspecTim Productions became a monthly project in which I would record unique conversations and stories about arts and culture in Gloucestershire and beyond, putting me in contact with an eclectic mix of interesting, creative and visionary folk. While volunteering at Cotswold Hospital Radio I have sometimes been able to broadcast these podcasts to Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital too.
This all then led onto further work with Vamos Theatre, as I had previously toured with the company as their stage manager during 2014. They asked if I would be interested in filming and editing a short promotional video of the rehearsal process for their show Nursing Lives, which toured this past year.
Ascending the steps of Chamberlain Square again to stand before the current Birmingham Conservatoire, it was exciting to return to the building this time with camera in hand. Andy and Carly from the Parkside Media Centre had brought with them the Canon C100 and Sony HVR-Z5E; the latter was for the use of us students, as Andy would be operating the C100 on this shoot.
Phil Thickett was director and Caroline Officer (our MA Award Leader) was producer on the project. Exterior shots were set up with the C100, as Phil expressed the importance of cutaways and recording a ‘wild’ or ‘buzz’ track (a track that may be layered on top of intermittent background noise and so create an uninterrupted soundtrack).
The Z5E typically records to tape, but an HTMI output had it connected to a BlackMagic SSD (solid state drive); this meant that the camera and the SSD had to be fixed onto a shoulder-mount for them to stay attached, and in turn making the overall use of the equipment rather cumbersome. I was designated camera operator on the Z5E, and it proved suitable to a short one-shot POV piece in which Phil directed me to enter the Conservatoire building, walking through the hallways and up to the practice rooms. It took two takes, using my fellow students as extras (or strategically-placed doorstops), so that the walk was as unobstructed as possible.
A week of new beginnings; new experiences; new journeys. The road to finding a postgraduate degree has produced a few challenges, and now I find myself following in my grandfather’s footsteps… and into the realm of television production. Naturally, a great deal has changed in the TV industry since my grandfather worked as a BBC film editor through the 50s, 60s and 70s.
My interests and passion still reside in theatre and film, yet in my research to find the right MA, I went for an interview at Birmingham City University. Before the tour of the media production facilities was even halfway through, I knew where I needed to be… And my discovery felt rather familiar too! I was distinctly reminded of my undergraduate application; when I had applied to do a film studies course and instead, after meeting the drama faculty at Worcester, I felt my calling.
P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster are given a renewed lease on life by The Goodale Brothers in Perfect Nonsense, fresh from its run on London’s West End.
Alice Power’s delight-filled set design, and the introduction of each element of the design as it comes into play, provides an excellent accompaniment to Sean Foley’s marvellous comic direction, delivered with exquisite choreography by John Gordon Sinclair, James Lance and Robert Goodale. Yes, that is one of the aforementioned Goodale brothers! All three actors are each superb in their physicality and characterisation.