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Proms 2009: A Chocolate Distraction

May 31, 2009

Signage, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

Most people do ruin Sundays worrying about work on Monday. I have been known to ruin entire weekends from the moment I return home late from work on a Friday evening thinking about the pressures I’ll face in the office the folllowing.

I always discover that Mondays are nowhere near as bad as I feared. It’s not long before I fall back into the rhythm of the week and those cares are a distant memory.

I can’t see that happening this time around however. At least I don’t think so.

Tomorrow is a day off. I’ve deliberately taken a day’s leave from my normal duties at White City, to spend six hours in Broadcasting House doing something I’ve never done before with a handful of people I’ve never met before. I’m recording another video for the BBC Proms website which, I am told, should be published some time around the beginning of the Proms season in July.

Six weeks before then however there’s filming to be done. (In fact, if I’m being wholly transparent, then five weeks too – as we’re repeating tomorrow’s process a week later).

Midday tomorrow is basically the point of no return. That’s when four cameras will be set up, sound checked and angles double-checked. It’s around about then I’ll be recording something to camera about a piece of music written by Faure.

There is no script (I always run out of time to write a script and hope like hell I can remember the words on the day) and I have to film sequences with other people. We only have three and half hours in the studio and we have a very tight schedule.

Up until now I’ve done most video stuff on my own. It’s easier that way. I can go over things to my heart’s content. There’s no pressure of subsequent booking of resources threatening the apparent creative process. I am my own boss in those situations. I can take as long or as little time as I like.

But when you introduce other people into the equation like cameramen or interviewees or musicians then things start getting a bit worrisome. That’s when interview requests have to be submitted, arms need twisting and schedules drawn up (and in some case re-drawn up). Long before the actual day there’s equipment to source, microphones to test, colour balances to get right and rehearsals to go through.

Normally there are production teams for these kind of things, but there is a direct correlation between the amount of joy experienced and the number of people involved I find. So for this particular effort, there’s just me and a cameraman – a mate I’ve known for a few years now – who even though he doesn’t know it yet be doing quite a lot of checking of cameras and sound levels. Let’s hope he doesn’t phone in sick tomorrow, ey?

Both of us working on this particular project rehearsed the process about 10 days ago for this. I can tell you now, it didn’t go terribly well. In truth I was a little tired but there was more than a little daunting about the prospect of filming a short video in Studio 80a at Broadcasting House in London.

When I wasn’t thinking to myself “How exactly did I end up in here?” I was making a mental note that I really had to put my best paw forward for this one, anything less and I’d feel as dirty as I did when the UK came last again in the Eurovision last year.

Plain old chocolateThere’s one other thing about tomorrow which I might as well lay bare here and now. I’ve never done anything like I’m doing tomorrow before. It is, for me at least, an unknown quantity. Theoretically it’s just getting a collection of people together at certain times and getting them to answer questions on camera. That’s all it is. Nothing more.

Yet the scale of it seems larger than I’ve ever done before. And that is a daunting thought. It’s the same with any project you have a vested interest in. You look at the deadline and think “How in God’s name are we going to reach that point?” You always do, of course, but the goal seems so very unattainable as to be laughably ridiculous.

Not only that, in the interests of constantly blogging about nearly everything in the vain hope that someone might find it interesting, I figure committing my thoughts on the matter before and (if I have the energy) at the end of the event too.

Naturally, I have done *some* planning. As much as I like things to be relaxed and spontaneous, I have quite appropriately typed up a shooting script, a task list and a schedule. All of this is being done with no costs incurred by anyone, but that’s no reason not to make sure everything is as well-organised as anyone charmingly conscientious individual aspires to be.

And that goes some way to explain why I’ve been cooking chocolate muffins this evening (cooking relaxes me I find). Well, that and finding a way to use up some of the nervous energy charging around my body. If the inevitable sense of smug self-satisfaction doesn’t prepare me well for tomorrow, then I’m in no doubt that a late afternoon of Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music on Sky HD should hit the spot.

  1. Chris permalink

    I think the key to your success tomorrow will not be a finely tuned C sharp, as much as your trying to have as much fun as possible and transmitting that sense of fun to your co-pianists. I’m sure it will go splendidly. And I wish you loads of luck. And if for some reason it doesnt go as well as you hope, wasn’t it George Harrison who said “All Things Must Pass”…. come tomorrow evening it will be over. 😉

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  1. Proms 2009: Duets & Ukes « Thoroughly Good Blog

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