Grayson’s Art Club

When the television industry found itself in unchartered territory earlier this year it became essential to make new, relevant content whilst adhering to social distancing measures and prioritising the safety of both the crew and the contributors. We therefore couldn’t have been happier to help Swan Films find a solution to filming an exciting new project with artist Grayson Perry at the heart of it. The aim was to “bring the nation together through art” encouraging viewers to unleash their creativity during lockdown.

Swan knew they wanted to film the majority of the footage in Grayson’s art studio along with utilising video calls, footage of celebrity guests, famous artists and the general public in their own homes. The challenge we needed to overcome was to rig cameras, microphones, cables and a gallery whilst adhering to the social distancing rules. We needed to work with a skeleton crew, so having access to technicians and operators who are multi skilled enabled us to achieve this. Swan Films planned everything meticulously and with the assistance of an incredibly helpful Grayson Perry we managed to get everything rigged and working in the short time we had. Fixed rig technology was the perfect way to film Grayson’s Art Club because once these measures were in place, the intimacy the remote cameras provided was ideal for the style of the show. We wanted to help Swan create the feeling of the viewers being in Grayson’s studio with him and sharing his process.

5 Panasonic UE70 cameras covered the space; one in the kiln room, two in the pottery room and two in the computer room for any Zoom meetings. Once these were rigged, and sanitised, the studio became Grayson’s space again and could not be entered by anyone except for him and his wife, Philippa. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the inability to maintain the kit during the shoot. We are usually able to enter the space whenever we need to in order to adjust cameras, clean lenses, tweak microphones and make changes but, on this occasion, we had to rely on the contributors to support us as much as they could. Grayson and Philippa were also handed a personal microphone and a box of batteries, and have been relied upon to mic themselves up before each shoot. The cooperation of the contributors has been invaluable on this project.

The lockdown also brought challenges in terms of the way the crew had to work as we needed to adapt without reducing any of our high standards. With this in mind we built three tents outside the studio; one for the Series Editor, one for the Director and one for our Hothead Operator. This meant that the gallery had to be contained in a much smaller space than usual, the Hot Head Operator would work in there alone with all communication done through walkie talkies with the Series Editor and the Director.

We were very aware of the short turn around from recording footage to transmission dates and this meant we needed to deliver the content even more efficiently. There would be no opportunity to return that particular subject matter at a later date in order to fill in any gaps or improve the quality. The increased pressure was challenging but incredibly rewarding.

The result was a heart warming, humorous and intimate show that gathered a huge following. It inspired both young and old to get creative, use their imagination in new ways and share their work. A wide range of viewers commented on the positive impact both the show and their newfound love of art was having on their mental health. The CCC were even been inspired to do portraits of each other which caused much needed amusement during these times! We hope it continues long after lockdown!

Facts & Figures

Facts & Figures
Filmed: Spring/Summer 2020
Aired: Spring/Summer 2020
Channel: Channel 4
Location: London
Viewers: 1.3 Million

Critical Acclaim

''It communicates a simple message we might have forgotten: creativity is in us all – and it’s good for our minds and spirits.''

The Independent

''Grayson’s Art Club is intimate and playful lockdown viewing.''

New Statesman

''He encourages the UK to think creatively while in isolation.''

The Guardian

Gallery