BBC Proms 2011: BBC Staff Piano Duet

In preparing for my last hurrah, I’m reminded by lovely tweep @Sandy_Burnett of some BBC Proms related fun I managed to coerce a bunch BBC types into doing a few years ago.

The idea behind the film was simple and – rather helpfully – contained the first sequence itself.

It was a lovely experience and looking back on it now still makes me feel all warm and fluffy. But it certainly wasn’t easy. First there were senior people to coerce into doing it and on-air people to persuade that this really was a safe thing to do. It’s no mean feat getting people who are used to doing things in a very ‘Radio 4’ way for example, to let themselves go a bit. Mr Soanes was especially accommodating.

And if you’re wondering how we shot it, it went something like this. Each participant had their allotted time. When it was their time, each would step into the studio thinking they were just doing a few takes of the Berceuse from the Faure’s Dolly Suite. But before we played together, each participant was asked to participate in a brief interview with me behind camera and them in front. Had any of them been warned, there’s no doubt they probably would have declined. What resulted was a collection of unexpected and totally off the hoof responses. Zeb’s response especially so. We just couldn’t have made it up. And little wonder Roger Wright kicked off by saying ‘I Trust You’. I’m told it’s a ‘technique’.

When it came to the edit, vision and audio were sacrosanct. So when we cut from Sara Mohr-Pietsch to Oliver MacFarlane what you hear is a cut between Sara to Oliver’s keyboard playing. Yes, it’s a bit rough and ready, but at the time that was exactly the intention. I wanted to show Radio 3 as prepared to let itself go just a bit. To loosen up. To have a laugh. To not be quite so pre-occupied with being ‘absolutely right’ all the time.

The shoot took two full days in the studio. The edit around about a week following that. I edited using Final Cut Express on my MacBook Pro at home. The finished MOV was uploaded to YouTube and published through the BBC’s video production system.

Thanks to Zeb, Roger, Sara, John, Oliver, Roland Taylor, Dean Craven and Louise Walter for their sterling support.


Watch the BBC Staff Piano Duet on YouTube

Follow the Live Blog of the Last Night of the BBC Proms 2011 on Saturday 10 September 2011

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