Earlier this year I had the great privilege of working with the hugely talented director Sam Bridger on a BBC music documentary called When Pop Ruled My Life: The Fans’ Story.
Presented by the brilliant Kate Mossman, it’s a 60 minute documentary that takes a warm-hearted look at the history of UK musical fandom from the Beatles right up to the present day.
It was an in-house production made by the awesome BBC Music Television department. Above is a short clip from the final documentary.
When I first met with Sam he was keen to make it more than a series of talking heads interspersed with traditional presenter piece-to-cameras. Sam felt that we should focus on the fans so we came up with a visual style that we would use for every fan we would interview. This was conceived before we began filming which was essential as we often met multiple fans in one day, sometimes in different towns or cities, which meant we only had a couple of hours in which to interview them and get everything else we needed.
One of the visual motifs we used was the use of video portraits. This is nothing new but our twist on it for broadcast was to utilise a full-frame look whilst shooting in slow motion.
Our A Camera was the Sony FS700 which we had rigged up with an Odyssey7Q recorder. This would take the 4K RAW signal out of the FS700 and convert it into supersampled ProRes 1080p video. For the video portraits we twinned this with a Metabones Speed Booster, giving us more of a full-frame field of view (akin to a 5D) and when combined with shooting in slow motion we came away with something quite special.
The idea was that we would use these shots to introduce each contributor in the film with their voice underneath.
More than Talking
Another element we used wherever possible was that each person would show us something, whether it be a piece of memorabilia or a talent they have. Nowhere was this more present than the case of Stephen Leppard. He is a huge Michael Jackson fan and has a brilliant talent that we just had to put in the film. Watch the clip below and you’ll see what I mean…
All in all this was a fantastic experience and such a privilege to be invited into people’s homes and lives.
Hopefully the BBC will play it again in the future for those of you who missed it. You can always check online to see if it’s still on BBC iPlayer. Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05wn8hf