Out and About in the Urban ‘Countryside’

Out and About in the Urban ‘Countryside’

Bring it on, Blue Peter: I LOVE working with children and animals! (And there really were A LOT of animals at the Farm in the Heart of the City…)

Sometimes when you’re out on a shoot, you struggle with finding the most visually impressive things to film; whilst our news stories in themselves may be full of insight and interesting people, you can’t always find a variety of ‘stuff to look at’. This was not the case with Kentish Town City Farm, our Secret London for show 5: cows, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, goats, horses, dogs, pigs, flowers, trees, a pond… Spoilt for choice!

The shoot started as always with a regular check of equipment- the standard list includes reporter mic, mic-cube, fluffy mic, camera, tripod, spare batteries and cards, headphones, a top light, a pile of consent forms… Only this time we should have added wellies to the list, as we trundled off to Kentish Town City Farm.

We also brought Tom with us, who is on a work experience placement at the Media Trust, so he could see what’s it’s like being ‘out in the field’ and get some hands-on camera experience. We also got him taking behind the scenes photos for our Facebook page and website. Certainly makes a change from a day in the office- and is a much better alternative on a hot, sunny day. As it turns out, having an extra pair of hands on a shoot is always a good idea, as you never know what you’re going to get until you get there. I figured an abundance of animals and children would mean the more people on hand the better!

My first thought on arrival was confusion; we were right in the middle of Kentish Town, full of shops and flats and houses, and there didn’t seem to be any sign of a farm, or even a patch of green, in sight. After getting a tiny bit lost, we eventually spotted a tucked away sign and a very inconspicuous entrance to the farm. Just goes to show: Never judge a book by its cover, as behind the door was a true hidden London gem.

Greeted by a load of kids, who were enormously friendly and fascinated by the camera (“Are we going to be on TV? Are we going to be famous?!”), we felt right at home and, as there was so much to film, got shooting straight away. The kids’ pottery class, the stables, the gaggle of geese and ducks wandering aimlessly around the courtyard… And then the presenter links:

Not being content with filming ourselves presenting or doing a voice over (far too easy!) I decided that the young people who used the farm and knew it best should front the show themselves. The lovely Sadie, Megan, Lauren and Ava all eagerly offered to take part when I called for volunteers. Holding the presenter-mic close to their faces, giving big smiles, and clear delivery straight into the camera, they acted like absolute pros, and, I have to say, I was totally impressed!

As it turns out, most of them had been on TV before so it wasn’t their first time; as they gave us a well-informed guided tour of the farm, I was starting to feel like they were the adults and us London 360 group the children! We were taken to visit the pond, the cows, the garden allotment and the apple tree, the goats… Plus some ‘action shots’ of the kids grooming the horse (Murphy) and all the sheep running into the den at bedtime!

Simone and John were doing a brilliant job of running the place and making us feel very welcome and relaxed on our shoot (we were even offered pastries and squash on arrival!). Simon and Sai were in their element, filming all kinds of things- and giving Tom some top tips on filming as well. Even I was getting excited about filming, suggesting shots and being creative and I’m not normally a techie): “Ooh, look! You could do a lovely panning shot of the skyscrapers and the trains and come round to the children stroking the cows, to highlight the contrast between city and farm, the rural and urban in harmony…”

With the sun shining bright on the most glorious day of the year, it hardly felt like work and I felt very lucky to be doing my dream job…. And I’m a normally a townie!

Bring it on Blue Peter; after today I LOVE working with children and animals!

Photo: Holly Powell-Jones (Sai Kumar gets up close and personal with a duck)

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