The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds was a huge, award-winning success, so The Complete Camera Company were delighted to team up with RDF again to follow it up with a second series. This fixed-rig documentary received such a fantastic audience response in 2015, the pressure was on to make a great series and key to this was the collaboration between Executive Producer Teresa Watkins and The CCC Directors. To revisit a team that had worked so well together originally was an absolute pleasure.
The production team whittled down a huge number of potential school’s to just two, when The CCC joined them on their recce’s. One of the biggest challenges in choosing the right school to film this series is finding a location that has both a suitable indoor and outdoor area. These areas need to be connected so that the children can be filmed exiting and entering both spaces. The indoor area needs to house the infrastructure required to create the games and challenges set for the children. This was finally found in a school in Shepherd’s Bush, a fantastic location for a London based production company and it provided the casting team with the ability to reach out to a diverse group of children. However, there was – technically – a catch. It was a listed building, and this needed to be considered throughout the planning and execution of the shoot by The Complete Camera Company.
The CCC did three site visits alongside the RDF Production Team, first to assess the feasibility of the shoot and once this was deemed to be successful the technical visit followed. The technical recce was to confirm exactly how the fixed-rig would be powered, the cabling and the layout of any kit, the location of the gallery and any building work that would need to be done. The third visit was to finalise the camera positions and 27 cameras were chosen to cover the areas in which the children would be filmed. These were supported by 12 personal microphones, 10 of which would be on the children, 2 on the teachers along with 12 atmospheric microphones. A classroom close by was selected for the production gallery and the shoot dates were fixed for the 6 weeks of the summer holidays so that all the children were off school.
It took 6 days to rig the school with 10 members of The Complete Camera Company crew and it was a challenging task. The building itself was designed by architect Erno Goldfinger in 1949 and remains Grade II* listed. Apart from making very specific choices about where anything was attached or screwed in, it was important that every member of the team was extremely careful when rigging cameras on the walls. The cabling, construction and attaching of any equipment had to be dealt with delicately so that nothing was damaged. There were restrictions that would not have existed in public buildings, and The CCC needed to find solutions that would ensure equally successful content being filmed.
The most important part of filming children in a school is safety, so it was vital that everything was rigged with this in mind. The children needed to be able to run around without being aware of any of the equipment and the crew needed to ensure there was absolutely nothing in their way that could cause them any harm. 13 cameras were rigged outside, 12 inside and 2 fixed cameras were used; they were rigged at a certain lens height so that the programme could be filmed ‘through the children’s eyes’. This was a specific choice made by the production team which made the content even more engaging.
The final series consisted of 6 x 60 minute programmes, 2 of each age group and was a moving, hilarious look at childhood relationships. Huge thanks to the fantastic casting team who are undoubtedly at the core of this shows success, and to the unwavering passion from the production team at RDF.
Facts & Figures
Aired: Winter 2016
Channel: Channel 4
Location: Shepherd’s Bush, London
Viewers: 2.44 Million