TV documentaries are numerous and can be about a vast range of things, from environmental issues, health issues, traumatic events and social justice. You name it and the likelihood is that there’s been a documentary about it. But what is it like when the documentary is about you, your life, your small business?
In October 2018 the Wasted Apple team spent three full long tiring days with a great film crew from True North TV. Truenorth are a media company who were filming a documentary television program for the TV channel More4. We are just one of a number of companies and individuals in Devon and Cornwall who were asked by True North to be part of the More4 series Devon and Cornwall. We excitedly agreed.
The results of the filming are to be aired on Monday 20th May 9pm -10pm in the final episode of the series. We are feeling excited (as we haven’t seen the footage yet either) but also very nervous. We are just a normal (ish ?) family In Porthpean, Cornwall, and on Monday night the Wasted Apple part of our family life is going to be aired on national TV. To be honest it all feels a bit surreal.
So how long did it all take?
We had 3 full days of filming. One at the home of Wasted Apple (which also happens to be our home). One at a regular Produce Market we attend in the coastal village of Porthtowan where we sell our ciders and juice, and a final day in one of the orchards from where we pick apples. These three days which may have ended up as nearly 24 hours hard at it, will result in 5-10 minutes of screen time! It was very tiring!
Does anyone ask you questions?
Yes, we were asked questions. The filming crew was comprised of two teams (different teams on different days) made up of two lovely people from True North TV, a Camera Man (Tom and Vince) and an Assistant Producer (Becky and Tasha). The Assistant Producer asked questions merely as prompts to get us to tell our story in the way they wanted to include it in their program. You will not hear the interviewers questioning, just our answers (which we were told should not start with a yes or a no, and should include the question). You don’t realise how much it is second nature to start every answer with a yes or a no until you are asked not to do it!!!
Do you have a script or have to do rehearsals?
No, we didn’t really know what we were going to be asked or what we would have to do until we were asked to do it! There were no rehearsals! The Assistant Producer had a list of activities, questions and places that she wanted to include in the filming and we worked with her to achieve those. However, on a couple of occasion, when we happened to say something interesting off camera, we were asked to repeat it for the camera. That was tricky… kind of the moment had passed, and the surprise or feelings are difficult to replicate when asked to do so on camera!
Did they ask us to do any funny things?
After filming each piece whether it was washing the apples outside, working in the cidery or picking in the orchard , we had to take continuity distance shots of the scene. So we had to repeat the actions but from a distance so the camera man could get a different angle. That was hard and it felt a bit strange, when for example the walk to the orchard was shot in stages and we had to try to remember where everyone had been standing in the previous portion of the shoot.
We had cameras in and on top of our van on the way to market. We had been asked to chat about the countryside, the market itself and our apple juice which we were offering for sale for this very first time. This felt very strange, especially as we had our three youngest children in the van with us …and you know what they say about never working with animals or children!!!
The pressing day happened to be a popular day for the Wasps!
The wasps were out in force when we were pressing the apples for the camera. This was difficult for us as the likelihood of being stung was high! The camera man however was delighted at the opportunity he had to film in slo-mo a wasp pinching the freshly pressed juice as it came out of the hydropress. The wasp made it to the final cut! We had a glimpse in the prior weeks preview and there it was!
The Porthtowan Market and all its regular stall holders there happily agreed to the film crew being present. True North TV put a notice up on the door to advise market goers that filming was taking place. No one in the market was staged or given a script. Anyone that appears in the footage of the market day were genuine market goers. Some people were not comfortable with being on camera and others loved it!
What did we learn from the whole experience?
We learned that initial self consciousness soon disappears as you get to know the film crew. It feels quite intrusive certainly to begin with , for example being miked up (not sure if you should risk going to the toilet in case the mikes are still on!).
On the flip side we learned a lot about the tv program making process-the huge amount of filming time needed to get even 5 minutes of final cut footage, the long hours that the film crew work very often miles away from home for weeks on end, but the very interesting and varied job that they have.
Most importantly we learned that people are very interested in our story. The reasons we started the Wasted Apple co echo the ethos of a growing number of people who believe in supporting the local community, getting back to more traditional ways of life, wasting less and appreciating more the great food that is growing on our doorstep. We love where we live and want to reflect that in all that we are doing with Wasted Apple Co.