As some of you will know my first career before photography was producing and directing documentaries and factual television so when ‘Countryfile’ asked me to follow them for a couple of days and capture behind the scenes photographs of their team at work I was thrilled!
I still have super fond memories of (the one and only) John Craven having a cuppa in my kitchen before I drove him to location. I can still see my (usually very composed) hubby’s face as John introduced himself. He was a proper fanboy and just looked wide eyed as if to say – ‘yes I know….it’s you off Newsround – in OUR kitchen!’
As a behind the scenes photographer you need to work in the background and slip by largely unnoticed. You are expected to document everything that is going on to really capture the atmosphere on set from start to finish. Knowing what was happening, why things take time, when to speak and more importantly when to stay quiet is paramount! Having experience of filming I knew when I could grab people for quick portraits, where I would be out of shot and when to remove myself altogether if time pressure was becoming too much.
The question most people have asked me is… ‘has much changed from when you last filmed last with them 8 years ago?’ The answer, is no, not a lot to be honest! The teams were still super friendly and fun, the subject matter still brilliant and the days still tight on time!
Countryfile films most of it’s VTs (Video inserts) in less than two days, which believe me is very short for Prime Time telly. Most of their filming is natually outdoors which means filming can be under extra pressure from short daylight hours and the vagaries of British weather. Then there is the added pressure of traveling from location to location, getting contributors into position and having to feed people! The crews are made up of director (who often self shoots), cameraperson, sound operator, presenter and researcher. As anyone who’s ever done a shoot knows, things don’t always go to plan, these shoots were relatively straightforward, but we were still under time pressure. To the untrained eye filming can look laid back and very relaxed – but often they are not shooting, because they are waiting for an airplane to pass overhead, a piece of kit to be fetched, a battery to be replaced…all the while knowing that the clock is ticking.
In my opinion they still make brilliant programmes with fab content that look stunning – Hurrah for The File – shame I didn’t get a chance to catch up with John though…hopefully next time.