Nerves on their way

Posted on April 16, 2010

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Gregory: Chief Handler of All Things

Meet Gregory. He’s the BBC Proms website producer chappy who navigates around his Windows PC desktop using a light-pen and pad. He also has an enormous amount of bits of paper all over his desk. Gregory’s the person I go to with practical questions about the videos I’m making for the BBC Proms website. He’s always very accommodating, terribly supportive and scarily efficient when it comes to following up on his action points.

It’s because of all that, I’ve taken the relatively unusual step of keeping Gregory reasonably well updated on the video project. I’ve held off from my usual streams of consciousness, making sure I’ve got homework to hand back to him from time to time. We had one of those update sessions just this week (hence the picture).

The headline announcement during that brief desk-bound meeting was how the rehearsal performance (idea number three in the original pitch) has been jettisoned. Increasing amounts of sensible thought has led me to think that whilst ambitious plans are to be applauded, I’m always keen to avoid heartache. As time has gone on, that particular project is looking like way too much work. Who knows. Maybe something will emerge in it’s place in time.

I also advised Gregory on how each of the BBC Performing Groups had been asked to participate in the mashup video (idea number two in the original pitch) and that I was waiting for something hard and fast in response. He in return advised me that the stash of equipment available for hire from the BBC’s digital video stores is actually a free service which is great given just how many tasty little bits of technology I’m eager to use to make this year’s silk purse.

Since my meeting with Gregory however, there have been some additional updates I’m keen to commit to the blog.

Latest hot news about the BBC Proms thing is that not much has actually been confirmed.

Idea Number Two – Musicians Mashup

All of the BBC’s Performing Groups seem to have responded well about the idea of filming a handful of their musicians. Four of the bands have confirmed in writing they’re enthusiasm and advised of their intention to find suitable victims contributors from the orchestra. One orchestra has maintained radio silence for the past week or so. If it turns out they’re not able to participate this will prove editorially quite difficult as I’ll be forced to explain why it is that all but one of the BBC’s orchestras is taking part.

Now that we’ve moved into what feels like a new phase with this project, the thing I’m concerned about most is that those who do agree to take part feel and show their enthusiasm for it. Projects like these – necessarily – need to have a certain amount of inherent in them. Ringing up each musician and getting them to ‘audition’ down the phone (by audition I’m talking about getting a sense of their personalities too) is too boring a process to enter into. I’m far more excited by the idea of just turning up knowing we’ve got three or four people to film and to see what happens. The resulting footage will then reflect the atmosphere of the shoot, as opposed to being a highly-polished, tightly visually controlled music video. But with that chance element comes an enormous amount of risk. What will happen if it’s all a complete disaster? What happens if we have no material? What will I do then?

One orchestra manager has already emailed players in the orchestra he oversees. And one of those players (who just happens to be staying with me this weekend) has pointed me in the direction of this trombone-playing crooner – Marty Wilson – from Belfast. And having watched this video of him singing at a National Trust event, I’m rather hoping he’ll leap at the chance to join in the mashup. Fingers crossed.

Pete Faint has sent me a copy of an instrumental track he has put together for a show. It sounds very good. If we can make it all sound half as good as that I’ll feel very pleased. And really, the most important thing to emerge from all of this stress is that I feel happy. If I feel happy then anything else positive will be a bonus. Now that we’ve got some payment agreed for Pete, he can get cracking on the track proper.

I’ve yet to find a soloist to record the track proper (like any bog-standard news package with linking scripts, there needs to be a linking artist in between each contribution just to tie the whole thing together). But I’m banking on someone I know reasonably well, who lives just up the road for that particular task.

Idea Number One- ‘Difficult to Enthuse’

Great progress made with the season opener. The monologue has all of the main lines written and the key questions to be asked of the contributors also finalised. Two orchestras seem interested in participating in principal. My first interview ask has already been made of Radio 3 Presenter and Guardian Blogger Tom Service, but a combination of getting his email address wrong, him not checking his work email and him being on holiday now means that he hasn’t replied yet. Mind you, there could be another reason for his relative silence.

Idea Number Four – ‘A Musician’s Life’

It’s coming along nicely. A number of names have been put on a shortlist. Some basic ideas have been scribbled down. Let’s say no more than that for the time being.

A sort of budget

In other news, a nominal budget (travel, a hotel and some additional camera assistance) has been agreed for at least two projects. I can confirm the words “that all seems very reasonable” were uttered by Gregory. He did later outline the important caveat that I would still need to check stuff out with the man at the top. I did that. The man at the top seemed quite agreeable mentioning the words “ceiling” and “we must have one”.

Later, I received an email with a charge-code in it and subsequent confirmation that it was OK to use that charge-code. Naturally, I am using it very responsibly and will continue regarding that charge-code as though it was one of my cats.

It’s coming …

It all feels like it’s perilously close. The launch is on April 22 and that feels all too soon for my liking. God only knows why I’m bothered about it. It’s not like I have to wear a suit or have my picture taken or say all the right things and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the 2010 Proms programme.

And yet still it feels like a bit of a big day.

And because it’s a big day, I feel as though I ought to have got everything a bit more together by this point. Everyone else has, after all. They’ve met their deadline. Right now it feels like I’m scrabbling around a bit without so much as a spreadsheet or a Google Doc at my fingertips. Nothing’s confirmed. And when it is, I won’t actually have any real idea of whether it will work until we actually start getting footage.

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