Our School was developed by Twofour and the BBC as a fixed-rig documentary for school children moving from primary to secondary school. It gives an insight into young students and the way they deal with adapting to a new environment and making new friends. The first series was shot in Yarm, Middlesbrough and The Complete Camera Company were delighted to be asked to film the second series, re-located to Birmingham.
Following a first series can be a tricky task. The CCC needed to make sure it was up to date with all of the technical requirements of the program, make decisions that meant any difficulties in the first series could be improved upon, and stay true to the original aims and purposes of the first documentary.
The location was chosen by Twofour, Greenwood Academy, at the heart of Birmingham with a wonderfully wide range of pupils from diverse backgrounds and a variety of cultures. It was important to build a strong relationship with the school and its staff so that everyone was comfortable with being filmed, especially the parents of the children that would then be chosen to follow more specifically as ‘lead characters’. It can be quite overwhelming when a big team of crew arrive with a truck load of camera equipment, so The CCC rigged the whole show during half term so as not to disturb any children or classes. This meant that when they arrived back and filming began, the whole set-up was very discrete and barely visible to anyone.
There were 24 cameras rigged in areas throughout the school that would be most likely to highlight the journey of the new Year 7’s; the canteen, the playground, the 3 classrooms and lots of corridors to catch the ‘in-between’ action of the school day. The Complete Camera Company provided 8 crew members over the 4-week period and CCC Director Ben Hoffmann also stayed to Direct in the gallery throughout the shoot.
One of the major problems that had to be overcome was that the school itself was riddled with asbestos. It was absolutely vital that all health and safety measures were taken to prevent any of it being disturbed. The CCC had to work their rig around avoiding any area that was at risk, but still make certain that the content required by the production team could be filmed. As with any show that involves young people, it is also important to be even more vigilant with equipment – the children needed to be able to move freely throughout the school as usual, and thankfully the cabling and atmospheric microphones could be rigged through the ceilings so they were completely out of the way.
The series covered a wide range of experiences, from bereavement and bad behaviour, to exciting school trips and talent shows. The in depth coverage of the rollercoaster ride of the move to ‘big school’ gave confidence and reassurance to the young viewers anxious about their own journey, and was an informative tool for parents experiencing their children’s challenges during that time. Our School 2 was a huge success with school children and their parents alike.
Facts & Figures
Filmed: March 2015
Aired: January 2016
Viewers: 261 Thousand