In summer 2015, we met Dr Ellen Harris, a Handel scholar that took us on a tour of Mayfair and introduced us some of the characters that were the great composer’s friends and neighbours for an insightful video for Handel House Museum. The video was inspired by an exhibition on display in the museum at 25 Brook Street which was itself based on Dr Harris’s book: George Frideric Handel – A Life with Friends
Since filming, Handel House has changed its name to reflect its fuller history and new exhibitions. Handel and Hendrix in London now includes a full replica of Jimmy Hendrix’s apartment. Hendrix lived at 23 Brook Street in the late 1960s and the museum has expanded to incorporate a fuller musical history.
Thissummer we had the pleasure of working with Chelsea Physic Garden to create a video exploring the many aspects that makes the garden such a lovely place to visit and support. Through insightful conversations with staff and volunteers, it was clear how much passion there is for this “hidden gem”. It was wonderful to have the garden and its history open up to us yet still leave us feeling like there is much more to discover.
We recently completed a film for the Handel House Museum exploring the composer’s connection with the Royal family during his time in London. It was a fantastic opportunity to speak with knowledgeable and enthusiastic people about a fascinating period in London’s history. We heard all sorts of rumours including one hinting that Handel may have been a spy when he first arrived in London but, as ever, not everything can make the final cut.
We spent one lovely serene day filming between the grey walls of the room where Handel died in his bed and treading on the (squeaky) original floorboards that Handel would have trodden on between bouts of writing not only The Messiah but the great pieces that can be heard in the film, all pieces that were written specifically for members of the Stuart and Hanoverian dynasties.
As part of the review of their anthropology collections, the Horniman invited 32 lucky local people to engage creatively with some key objects from that collection. The Community Fieldworkers, as they were known, were given special access to the collections store and training on how to work with and consider the objects they would be responding to. They were then sent 18 postcards, each one showing a different object. From this stimulus they were asked to create, research, respond or tell a story based on at least one of the objects they felt a connection with.
All of these responses were gathered together for public display one afternoon in the Horniman’s pavilion building and we were invited along to record the work and chat to a small handful of the fieldworkers who contributed to the project. The work was very diverse and often very beautiful. The Community Fieldworkers had really risen to the challenge of engaging with the objects and everyone’s responses were so individual that I can only say I wish I had more time to really look through it all.
Nicola Scott was one of the coordinators of the project and tells us a little bit more about it here:
Then we heard from the fieldworkers who made pieces ranging from spoken word readings to Sculpture via collage and maps!
There was a wonderfully warm and community atmosphere as visitors, fieldworkers, friends and family investigated and documented the work for themselves.
We have traveled up, down and across the country making a recent set of videos. These videos were commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Fund to promote their funding programme called Young Roots.
The heart of Young Roots is the young people who have the ideas, run the projects and gain a whole range of skills and qualifications along the way. To make sure that we were really going to be speaking to our target audience we had a number of consultations with a group of young people who gave us their very knowledgeable and sharp insights into this process.
The young people we met and worked with did a fantastic job of informing and invigorating our approach to the videos. Their discussion of heritage and how to present ideas of heritage was essential in helping us develop the concept for the our initial video. We call it, This is Mine.
After the consultations were complete we went out to visit projects in Newcastle, Forfar (in Scotland), Cardiff and Brixton, London. We had read through a wide variety of projects that we could visit and sadly there were so many that we wanted to visit but restrictions meant we had to limit our visits.
We started in Newcastle and were just as excited as the group we were scheduled to meet:
We began walking along the Tyne to get some establishing shots and then walked through town up towards Circus Central and were really taken by the city which neither of us had ever visited before.
When we arrived at the old church that houses Circus Central the group really got our filming for this project off to a bang. Juggling, headstands, unicycles and fancy dress were all de rigueur for the day. These guys were so mature and clearly passionate and excited about their wonderful project it was a real pleasure to film them. After visiting the Discovery Museum and Tyne and Wear Archives we finished the day on a moor just outside the city getting some wonderful action shots that can be seen in the This is Mine video.
Our second visit was up in Scotland and, for a project about Heritage, it was particularly poignant that we were visiting Forfar. The town where my father and grandfather had both been born. Forfar is a small town surrounded by beautiful Scottish countryside.
We walked along the shores of a loch and climbed hills before finally dropping in to meet the gang of young weavers at the PitStop Youth Cafe. The atmosphere at PitStop was very friendly and we immediately felt welcome. It felt like a very open environment where everyone was allowed to make themselves at home and offers of food and cups of tea were plenty. We arrived, it has to be said, with some trepidation as to how excited young people might be about weaving but again we had underestimated these young people. Their passion and enthusiasm was infectious. They showed off their weaving skills, gave us a historical tour of Forfar before taking us to the hidden Angus Archives in the grounds of a ruined church.
Brilliant day yesterday filming with @acapmedia brilliant day full of laughter, #youngroots all the way 🙂 thanks to chris and aaron 😉
Before leaving Scotland I managed to have a brief visit with my dad and grandfather to discuss their memories of Forfar and touch on my own heritage as part of this journey.
It wasn’t long once we got back to London before we were off to Cardiff to film at Cardiff Story Museum and Butetown Youth Pavilion. As with Newcastle our tour through city really took us by surprise, not just the glorious weather that we were very lucky to have but the vibrancy and excitement of the city. Sadly my phone was broken that day so there were no Cardiff tweets despite filming the Castle and Millennium stadium before even getting to the Butetown Pavilion..
We were warned that filming at the Pavilion on this evening might be difficult as it was a girl only evening and we wouldn’t be able to move freely through the building as it was a safe environment for young Muslim women. We were welcomed very warmly and if there were concerns about having two men roaming their corridors they were mostly hidden from us. We were limited for time so flitted between rooms filming art work, group leaders, articulate and funny young women, a small fashion house and an editing suite. We left Butetown to the sounds of laughter and with a clear sense of the excitement and sense of achievement these women had from working on a project with such a broad scope.
Back in London it was a very odd experience to just jump on a number 37 bus to visit visit our next HLF project in Brixton at the Photofusion gallery.
The work of this Organised Youth group was very moving. Their review of the Black Panther UK movement was clearly personal but also grasped the wider ramifications of that work and it was wonderful to see young people tackling these issues in a modern context. We met three young men who gave us a tour of their exhibition, talked us through how they had achieved their goals and then took us up on to the roof of the gallery to let us look down over Brixton Village. It was a really great to be able to leave one of the projects and be able to recommend the output from the young people to my local friends as something that was really worth a visit. Even better is that I know some people did visit and loved their exhibition.
Once filming was complete we had a great deal of footage because everyone had such great positive and meaningful things to tell us but it had to edit down to three short videos. This took a great deal of honing and trimming and once those first drafts were complete we shared them with our Young Media Consultants again and with HLF. A little bit of back and forth between all interested parties has honed these fantastic projects down to these videos. The first focuses on the young people and their journeys while the second is targeted more at youth and heritage leaders who need to be on board to support young people through these projects.
Thank you to everyone involved for an amazing, eye opening experience throughout the project.
Today the Horniman has launched their new overview video which was lovingly crafted by acapmedia.
The Horniman Museum is a “Gem”, a “Hidden Treasure”, a “Local Curiosity” but it is also a world class museum with disparate collections. Our challenge was to capture the feeling of this wonderfully diverse organisation, covering all the collections, galleries, activities and never forgetting the stunning gardens into a short concise video that would appeal to past and regular visitors but also encourage those who hadn’t visited before to make their way down to Forest Hill in South London (really rather easy thanks to the overland and many direct trains from London Bridge and Victoria) to see it all for themselves.
It took a little while to arrange time to meet with all the curators and staff members as everyone was always very busy but when we did manage to pin anyone down they were very generous with their time and remarkably enthusiastic to share their knowledge. So enthusiastic we sometime felt rude reminding everyone that their gallery or section could only be featured for a very short time. We learnt a great deal about fossils, Ethiopian instruments, coral reefs and African puppets that could never fit into this video so you will just have to pop along yourself to find out more.
Enthusiasm was a recurring “problem” as members of the public we interviewed had so much to say about the museum: 80year olds telling us about their visits there as children, annual visits from Scotland, Jamaica, Thailand and…Ilford, people meeting old friends and new friends. Visitors really seem to take the museum to heart and want to share everything. As one of our interviewees says in the film, “Everything you see is eye opening.” but not everything edits down well into a short video so we have had to leave out some lovely moments.
As well as having to heavily edit our interviews we also had to be ruthless in our choice of objects to show in the video. We could never have shown everything and, of course, we wanted to leave some surprises. The Horniman’s Collections are so exciting we were very strict with ourselves in each gallery not to film everything but to pick out some highlights and the curators were very helpful in suggesting some of their favourites. Additionally the museum is a very dynamic place and doesn’t stand still so we couldn’t film the temporary gallery that changes regularly, we couldn’t film some favourite objects because they were on loan to other museums and, as regular visitors know, the gardens have been beautifully regenerated. The film stands still but the museum never does so we very much stuck to a theme of capturing a flavour of the museum because a snap shot is impossible and perhaps that message is shared by including some archive photos that show the growth and development of the museum.
Something that many of the visitors commented on was how much the museum has changed over the years. We hope the video celebrates and shows the growth of the museum and its audiences over the years.
We were very happy as well to work with Ceridwen Smith, talented actress and resident of Forest Hill who lends her voice to the film and brings the narrative of the museum to life. Her enthusiasm for the museum was clear when we recorded and I think it shines through in the video. She is the first person to thank in our list of thanks that also include, Adrian Murphy and Victoria Brightman from the Horniman Museum as well as all the staff and visitors who shared their stories with us from families through storytellers to curators and directors, the video would not have been what it is without all your help.
You can view the video here and don’t forget to like and share with your friends: