The Complete Camera Company were delighted to be asked to make this fixed-rig documentary series following the huge success of its pilot show The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds. Channel 4 and RDF wanted to make the series in a way that had less impact on the children and gave leading scientists and child psychologists the opportunity to observe the children in a way they had never been able to before.
Fixed-rig was the obvious option, and The CCC embarked on the complex task of rigging a Nursery School suitable for 4, 5 and 6 year olds, in an unobtrusive manner which maintained full coverage of the children’s interactions.
Having looked at a number of sites to rig the show, RDF and The CCC collectively agreed on a school in South London, and shot the series over the Summer Holidays in order to maximise on space and access. The show was shot over 2 main areas, the playground and the playroom, using 28 cameras, 5000m meters of cable, 8 technical crew and 7 days of rigging.
Channel 4 and RDF were very specific about how they wanted the show to look of the show. They wanted to be ‘in the children’s world’ rather than looking down on them, so The CCC rigged each camera on an adjustable mount to be able to shoot on the eye line of the different ages and heights of the children. This gave us a unique look to the show as whenever the teachers were in frame we had the classic ‘Tom and Jerry’ shot. The CCC also rigged a back stage area for the scientists and Phycologists so they could observe the children and have access to each individual mic so that, for the first time in their professional lives, they could really observe children in their natural environment without being in the same room.
Over a period of 6 weeks the groups of children were filmed in their individual age groups, for a total of 2 weeks each, while scientists and psychologists analysed each detail of the children’s behaviour. It was an incredibly exciting series, marked by a wonderful variety of tasks that the children engaged in. Capturing both the huge, and tiny, moments were equally vital – camera positioning and vision mixing were more important than ever with the speed at which the children interacted with each other.
It remains one of the most talked about projects The CCC has ever worked on, engaging an enormous range of viewers with its humour and heart, whilst providing a genuine never before seen insight into the ways in which children make and break relationships as they learn about themselves and those around them.
This is groundbreaking stuff… gripping yet harrowing
Hilarious and tear-jerking antics.
The combination of excitement and terror made it a most exquisite sort of torture.
If anyone needed reminding how wonderful and fascinating the world of a small child is (this) is a brilliant reminder