Mentorn Media, alongside Producer Yonni Ususkin took on this challenge for Channel 4 of filming a fixed-rig documentary series in a popular London chicken shop in order to examine the lives of the staff and customers who travel through it. They approached The Complete Camera Company to see if it was possible to take the template of a traditional rig show, reduce the size of it and make it work in a much smaller, more restricted location. This is where one of the first ever mini rigs came to fruition.
The Fried Chicken Shop began its life as an original one-off Cutting Edge documentary and following its success was re-commissioned by Channel 4 as a full series.
‘Roosters Spot’ in Clapham was chosen – a busy, lively chicken shop in the heart of London with a wide variety of customers. As expected, it was a very small space with limited options for rigging and filming. One of the most important hurdles to overcome was safety – The CCC made sure that when the shop was busy, the cameras, cabling and customers were all safe, despite there being a great deal of equipment in a small area.
Once the site had been examined, The CCC and Mentorn agreed that 9 cameras (Panasonic AWE 50’s and 60’s), 8 atmospheric mics and 12 Sennheiser personal mics would be used. This meant that the production company would need to make quick decisions, especially late at night when the shop was busiest, about who they would be recording. 4 streams of video with embedded audio recorded onto XDCam were used to record content live, and the chicken shop was gradually rigged during the mornings when business was quietest.
Under normal circumstances, when shooting a fixed rig documentary, the gallery for the crew would be situated nearby in portable cabins, or in an OB vehicle with plenty of space for people and equipment. In this case, the challenge was to find a way of fitting a vision mixer, sound desk, hot head operators position, producer, series director and all the XDCam decks and a wrangling station into a small room above the chicken shop itself. At this stage, The Complete Camera Company invested in, and developed, new kit that would deliver the same high quality results but that could be compressed into a smaller package to give everyone more space.
When it aired, The Fried Chicken Shop received a wonderfully warm reception from audiences across the UK, and spread across Social Media far quicker than anyone could have predicted. The characters introduced, from the daytime regulars to the hilarious drunks, were genuine representations of everyday life. The various relationships that developed between the staff and the customers were truly heart-warming.
Facts & Figures
Filmed: April/May 2013
Aired: Autumn 2013
Channel: Channel 4
Location: Clapham, London
Viewers: 1.49 Million
The result is brilliant – not really about what we eat, but about who we are in Britain today.
All credit to the filmmakers for calmly and cannily drawing us into their lives.
Who knew such vulnerability could be found in a fried-chicken shop… it morphed into something textured, tender, and poignant.
It’s all touching, funny, a bit gross sometimes and very much right here, right now.