999 What’s Your Emergency was on it’s 3rd series when Blast Films approached The Complete Camera Company to take care of the fixed-rig element of the show. They chose for this series to go with an upgraded, full HD multi-camera system which would greatly improve the viewing quality. The decision was made to follow the police and paramedics in Cheshire, a very busy location in the UK, and to do so over a 10 week period at the end of 2015.
Following The CCC’s initial recces with Blast it was decided that 27 cameras would be rigged in 4 ambulances and 4 police cars. This meant that the vehicles would be chosen at the start of the shoot, each vehicle had a Producer/Director who would travel to each crime scene, and The CCC provided a centrally located mini-cams technician to handle any on site technical issues as the PD’s travelled from scene to scene.
The Complete Camera Company crew rigged the 999 vehicles over an 8 day period, with a team of 3 people. One of the most challenging issues when filming 999 is rigging a fully functioning ambulance with camera equipment. In order to cover the action fully, four cameras were rigged in each ambulance, but this had to be fitted around a significant amount of lifesaving equipment that was obviously already present. Leaving room for this, and the people, meant that The CCC had to find ways of rigging the remote cameras in unobtrusive places with the cabling, batteries and recorders stored in the cab above the driver.
Keeping the kit safe in the back of police cars that were careering around the streets of Cheshire was also a challenge – in order to make sure that the kit could be seen and therefore taken care of, The CCC built large Perspex sheets for each boot. This way the equipment could be managed while the Police Officers could keep their belongings in there also. The CCC also incorporated remote fobs that were used by the PD’s to switch all of their cameras to record whilst still outside the vehicle; particularly important when paramedics were administering lifesaving treatment in the ambulances.
999 uses both a fixed rig format and hand held cameras operated by the PD’s on location to combine a variety of footage. Taking on a 3rd series is always a challenge, but with a programme that uses rig as a contributing factor rather than as its sole format it is particularly important to integrate successfully into the production. The Complete Camera Company did this by supplying user-friendly equipment that could be easily operated and maintained by Producer/Directors with a very heavy workload, often out on the road and expected to manage a rig and film handheld on their own.
Filming spanned such a wide range of content and it was important that the team remained sensitive to many distressing cases. It really was an incredible insight into the lives of people in Warrington and Crewe The show received an enormous amount of support from viewers online and on social media, and many viewers seemed keen to have Epsiode 2 in particular – centred around legal highs – shown to teenagers in schools.
Facts & Figures
Filmed: Winter 2015
Aired: July 2016
Channel: Channel 4
Location: Crewe & Warrington
Viewers: 2.01 Million