V&A National Video Archive of Performance
17th December 2009
FOCUS ON VIDEO
Jill Evans, producer of the V&A’s National Video Archive of Performance, and Kate Dorney, curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance, tell Aleks Sierz about the V&A’s extensive collection of video recordings of theatre performances, and discuss the hazards as well as the joys of creating them.
Technology is changing all the time and getting better – as of yesterday, we’ve discovered a way of making excellent quality small-scale recordings.
FOCUS ON VIDEO
Jill Evans, producer of the V&A’s National Video Archive of Performance, and Kate Dorney, curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance, tell Aleks Sierz about the V&A’s extensive collection of video recordings of theatre performances, and discuss the hazards as well as the joys of creating them.
Recorded: 17 December 2009
Transcribed by the V&A. This transcript is copyright of the trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum. If you wish to refer to this production, its reference is FOCUS ON VIDEO and you must quote the url in your address bar.
Aleks Sierz: Welcome to the Theatre Voice. I’m Aleks Sierz and I’m at the V&A today to talk about the commendable National Video Archive of Performance which is a collection of video recordings of a Variety of theatre shows from The Absence of War to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? To guide me through this archive, I’m joined by two of the V&A’s staff. First is Jill Evans who is the producer of the National Video Archive of Performance. She has produced over 150 recordings for it and has made and films on subjects ranging from the Redgrave dynasty to The Supremes. And there’s Kate Dorney who is the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance here. She is also author of The Changing Language of Modern English Drama and co-editor of the journal Studies in Theatre and Performance. Welcome to you both.
Kate Dorney: Hello
Jill Evans: Hello
AS: Jill, can you start by telling us how the video archives started.
JE: Back in 1992, Margaret Benton was the Director of the Theatre Museum, which was a branch of the V&A and which was later closed. Margaret Benton decided that some technology now made it possible; it would be really amiss not to start making recordings to complement all the other materials that the Theatre Museum was collecting to do with performance. And she got in a few experts, talked to people. The most important thing, of course, was the union, which was very difficult, but eventually [an agreement] was worked out between Equity, BECTU, the Musicians’ Union and the Writers’ Guild.
AS: And why was that so difficult at the time?
JE: Because we weren’t going to be able to afford to pay either the cast or the stage management of productions we wanted to record. We would only be paying the actual recording costs. And obviously copyright was an extremely thorny issue and actors were bound to feel that they were performing for the audience and not for the cameras. So a deal was worked out whereby we could make a recording of one performance, and those recordings would have to be kept securely in the video archive and could only be viewed by appointment or used in educational workshops but never ever used commercially. So that way they were able to proceed but how they were going to go about it remained very difficult. A lot of people within the theatre profession believe very strongly that no recording should actually have shots edited together because that was imposing another layer of visual and artistic choice on top of the theatre director’s choices.
AS: Well, like the kind of film director point of view and stuff like that. Isn’t that right?
JE: Exactly. So initially there were three cameras used, each one carefully choreographed to continue to take a certain angle throughout the entire performance. They were not edited and these recordings were viewed on a pyramid of viewing machines. One with a wide shot, and then one with a shot from one side and one with a shot from another showing more detail.
AS: Sounds very complicated.
JE: It was very complicated; you watched all three recordings played back at once, theoretically so you could choose your point of view as if you’re in a theatre. In practice it was an absolute nightmare because no domestic recorder actually has a facility to start or offer exactly the same time as any other, so they were always a little bit out of sync. And if you’re a researcher and want to run back over a scene and look at it again, there wasn’t a hope of doing that. So this didn’t go on for very long and it was decided that regardless of the purist view, it would be necessary to edit the three cameras together, making it a much more enjoyable experience and much more practical experience watching the recording. But we did decide that we would always preserve the wide shot as well as the edited view so that people who wanted to see the lighting changes, exit and entrances or really didn’t want to see something edited, could choose to watch the wide shot.
AS: And is the wide shot the equivalent of, say, the director of the show sitting at the back of the stalls or the front of the circle?
JE: Yes, front of circle, back of the stalls, just watching it. But it is a little bit of an equivalent of watching it through, I don’t know, an empty toilet roll, or something. I mean, you’d see no detail, you can’t see what’s going on on the actors’ faces; you can’t see details of costumes or props. And it’s a really, I believe, unsatisfactory way to watch a recording.
AS: So the argument for having several cameras is to have more detail as well?
JE: Particularly detail of the actors’ performances so that you can actually see how they’re responding to each other and to the audience. And another thing that we very clear about was that we would always be aware of the audience, that we would have microphones within the audience. And it is very interesting, especially in comedies, to watch how the actors play against the reaction from the audience.
AS: And how do you actually go about the mechanics of arranging to record something?
JE: We have to be incredibly far ahead of the game, because especially with theatres like the Almeida or the Donmar or Cottesloe, any smaller theatre where a really good production is going on, they will be sold out almost as soon as the members are able to book seats. So we actually have to make decisions about what we’re going to record before booking opens, which means we can’t wait to see what the production is going to be like, we have to make the judgement based on other factors. So we have to go down to the theatre and decide, given the sort of set it’s going to be and the sort of production it’s going to be, though the set probably won’t even be in there while we make the decision, we decide what seats we need to buy to put the cameras in. And that’s an incredible expensive business, because British audiences do not like to be aware of the cameras in the audience. In America it’s completely different. American audiences love looking at the cameras and they like to watch the monitors. We have to buy up to 10 seats for each camera.
AS: As many as that? Oh, I didn’t realise that.
JE: Yes, it can be. And when you have seats costing £50-55, that’s really expensive. So we have to book seats in the ideal position for the three cameras, or if it’s a pantomime, or a musical, it might be four cameras. If it’s a pantomime we would have a fourth camera looking back at the audience.
AS: And are these cameras all manned?
JE: Oh yes. It’s absolutely crucial.
AS: So you need at least three or four technicians or cameramen or -women to man them.
JE: It doesn’t work having an un-operated camera because you’ve got to be responding to where that actor is going. So we choose our camera positions and we then have to set about some very boring things like parking for the outside broadcast van because for more than half an hour recordings we do them like outside broadcasts, with the film van in which there is an engineer who is making sure that the camera colours are all balanced. Therefore if it gets too dark he can put some on and if it gets too bright he can bring it down; because theatre lighting is really hostile to television cameras. They don’t respond at all well to it. So it’s a very difficult game making sure that the lighting conditions are right. But we would never change the theatre lighting.
AS: And is that a freelance person or is it something that you own?
JE: We tend to use the same people over and over again because they’re the people who had experience working in theatres, they probably do Royal Opera House and they have the sensitivity to work in the theatre and amongst the audience and they know how to respond to actors.
AS: So you’ve been doing it almost 20 years now.
AS: And you’ve accumulated about 150…
JE: No, I think that figure is since I’ve been there. I think we have over 200 recordings altogether.
AS: OK, right. And how does this archive fit into the general context of the V&A, Kate?
KD: Well, as you know, our mission is to document live performance throughout the UK. And we’ve done that traditionally through cutting the papers, interview projects like Theatre Voice, through collecting designs, set models, costumes. And really for us the video recording is a way of wrapping that all together and seeing it move because everything else we have is not dynamic. It doesn’t happen in real time and it’s not animated. So by having video recording you can see, as Jill says, the audience’s response, we can follow the careers of particular actors and directors. For example, we have done some of Thea Sharrock’s work now for a long time. Or someone like Ben Whishaw we’ve been following from very early on. It also means that we can do shows that don’t respond very well to other forms of documentation. If it’s a new writing play and we’ve got just the text and the set is a settee and a television there’s not very much for us to collect. We’re not a modern dress production. We’re not going to buy the jeans and the t-shirt that someone wore in that but the recording just brings a whole new dimension to the business of performance and the way in which the audiences and acting changes.
AS: And mentioning that is very interesting because of course the real strength is for the physical theatre performances like shows by Complicite or even I know you’ve done things like marionettes and pantomime. Is that right? Because it gives a record of something that usually remains unrecorded.
KD: Yes. And I think sometimes it’s very hard for us to record things that happen in non-traditional theatre spaces or in a slightly different theatrical environment. I mean, Jill may say more about Complicite filming for example. Because of the multi-media aspects, big lighting changes can sometimes make it very difficult but we’ve always thought it was worth doing and certainly people come and see them all the time.
AS: Is that right then, these particular challenges with multi-media work…
JE: Yes, there is. But also I think I want to say we’ve found two different ways of responding to different kinds of theatre venues. So we do the big outside broadcasts in the big venues but in smaller places, especially places like the Tricycle which is particularly suitable for small-scale recordings and now with Complicite we’ve started doing small-scale recordings, because cameras are less intimidating, we take up their space.
AS: What about small-scale?
JE: Three or four of us just stand at the back of the stalls with much smaller cameras. And we record it and it’s edited afterwards. And that way it’s much less expensive so we are able to fit in more recordings.
AS: What about the question of quality? Is that still alright with a small camera?
JE: It’s getting better. We can’t use the extremely high quality video tape that we use in the outside broadcasts. But actually, as of yesterday we’ve discovered… that’s the other interesting thing, technology is changing all the time, getting better. As of yesterday, we’ve discovered a way of doing our small recordings at virtually the same tape quality as we do our big ones. But of course we don’t have a director. The big recordings have a director who sits in the van, who would have been given a scratch tape, which is something we record from the back of the upper circle very early in the run, give it to the director with a script and he or she spends weeks familiarising themselves and making a shooting script. If we’re doing a small-scale recording, the three of us, we’ve just seen the play and looked at the text a few times and it’s much more on a wing and a prayer!
AS: Yeah. And also there are very few found spaces or theatre that takes place outside…
AS: Thank you.
JE: I mean, promenade, we’re waiting for an opportunity for somebody to say: “We don’t mind the camera being in amongst the audience during the promenade.” I have a very strong feeling; I think Kate agrees with me, that there is no way we could ever begin to capture that kind of theatrical experience. We’re never going to do justice to it. I’d like to have a go but we could just spoil the experience for most of the other people who are there and that just isn’t fair, because whatever theatre production we’re recording the first and foremost priority is that the audience gets the experience that they were supposed to have. And anything that we might do that would change that is really…
KD: Yeah, I think it’s very hard. And, similarly, we talked a lot about recording outside but there is a huge cost to making any change to the way we do things usually in an upward direction. So it’s often about making a choice between will you film the Bridge Project, which you know how to do and you can do well and people would be very pleased to come or will you take a punt on an outside project where it might rain and you may not be able to see anything.
AS: Despite the investment…
JE: The other thing that presents us with the most difficulty is real fringe where the production is only around for a few days because if there isn’t a chance for us to see it, prepare the recording… I mean, now that we’re doing the small-scale recordings we should be able to tackle things a lot better.
AS: Yeah, I noticed there wasn’t much from the Bush which usually has good production values and has done for the last twenty years and also nothing from the real fringe theatres like the Old Red Lion or the Finborough or anything like that. Is that also the constraints of the space; because it’s very tight?
JE: It’s not so much the space now we’ve got the small way of doing it. But it’s the problem of getting to see the production and then getting the recording organised and then doing it in the space of maybe three days. That’s what’s so hard. If it’s on tour and we’ve got the time to be able to go and see it somewhere else that’s a slight advantage but it’s still going to change completely in the new venue.
AS: Yes, exactly. So if you’re doing a touring company like Paines Plough or Out Of Joint, what would you normally do? Wait for them to be somewhere for three weeks, like the Cottesloe or something.
JE: Well, we’re going to see them somewhere, the nearest they get to London, if possible. But then yes, wait till they come in and have a bit of run at it so that we can actually get it organised properly. Cause if it’s just too much, as you said, if it is a punt; if our recording values drop off too far, then I think we have to do justice to the performance. That’s the crucial thing.
AS: I did notice that in the list, in the enormous catalogue where you’ve got these 200 recordings, some of them are a single camera. Are these the early ones?
JE: Yes, they were the early ones. I think they were very few venues… one-man shows, one-woman shows would still do a venue on one camera.
KD: Product is the one. And that was in the Bush
JE: Yes. But as we said before, you really do want to see the detail of the performer’s face.
AS: So given that it’s so expensive how many of these can you do a year, more or less?
JE: I think we’ve done about 20 this year. But that was an extraordinary year, because filming at the Tricycle we did The Great Game, so we did all these Afghan plays. We’re just currently doing Not Black and White, which is a trilogy of three plays, again at the Tricycle. We’ve done a lot this year. I think it’s usually one a month. I think we probably do about eighteen to twenty a year.
KD: Yeah, it depends, doesn’t it? Last year, for example, we did all three Norman Conquests. But because you can do three almost with the same amount of work as you can do with one, you can pump more in. And I’ve got to say actually, Jill has responded magnificently this year to the challenge of things that seem to have suddenly dropped on us from up higher. “Oh God, we must film that.”
AS: Why would that be then? Why would you say that? Is it because it’s something peculiarly interesting?
KD: The Not Black and White season just wasn’t really on the boil. When we start looking… Because we’re looking all the time but if there is anything big that comes up on the Society of London Theatre list we start planning a long in advance. The Cat on the Hot Tin Roof has been on the boil for ages but getting the agreements from producers, etc, can be difficult.
AS: Especially that it’s an American production as well.
KD: Yeah. So sometimes when you focus on a very long game you stop looking at things closer to home. And The Great Game was a great achievement. And so I hope we weren’t expected to do that again. And also Tusk Tusk was this year. We managed to get the tickets; we went to see it and decided that we had to do it. And we turned that around in about a week, I think.
AS: How do the theatres react? Are they broadly supportive or do they not like this kind of…?
JE: The tech staff are usually absolutely wonderful. They are supportive but again, it is a strangely different attitude from that in America for theatre on film and tape at Lincoln Centre, where a theatrical producer doesn’t really feel that the run is complete until a video has been made. Here the producers can impose quite strange demands on us, like “You’ve got to do it on a Monday in August”.
AS: Why would that be? Because nobody’s coming that day?
JE: Yes, exactly. And they know we’re going to buy 30 or 40 seats.
AS: But that’s awful because that presumes that maybe there’s a pathetically small audience and there’s no dynamic between the audience and the actors.
JE: Exactly. I mean, yesterday afternoon doing Kwame’s play at the Tricycle…
AS: Seize the Day.
JE: Yes, Seize the Day. It was all school kids. And they were absolutely rapt, but then responded incredibly well to absolutely everything. And at the end there was a standing ovation with screaming… It was just a terribly exciting thing to see that kind of a response coming from kids. They absolutely adored the play.
AS: And how do actors respond to being filmed; because obviously there’s the risk that they will be playing for the cameras?
JE: They tend not to. One experience…
KD: We’re trying to explain how it’s going to be framed and we’re never going to waste a shot because when you’re projecting, you’re spitting. We’re trying not to record that. We have had experiences when people have suddenly been six feet closer to the camera than they were when we filmed the scratch tape or if people spin out speeches. I think now the profession is much more behind video recordings. I think in the early days people were really dubious because they saw a big distinction between acting for a theatre and acting for a camera. And people like Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Diana Rigg were incredibly supportive in the beginning and said, “No, this is ok, it’s a different beast.” So I think usually it’s good.
JE: Oh yes. And I think we have wonderful relations with the Tricycle, like the RSC. If you go back to places often enough and people begin to realise that you’re not going to cause disruption, you’re going to be very respectful of everything that’s going on, then they become absolutely fantastic.
AS: And do theatres themselves keep their own video archive of their own productions. I thought the National did that, or is that not true?
KD: Yes, the National record their own now, so we don’t record at the National any more.
AS: OK, so if I wanted to see a play that’s been on there, I would have to go to the National to see it.
KD: If you wanted to see something that has been done since 2006, yes.
JE: …which is when they put cameras into each of their auditoriums and arena recording.
KD: They do multi-camera recordings whereas the RSC still does one fixed camera upon the balcony, which is why we still go and record that because the perennial complaint of Shakespeare researchers is that they can’t see anything at the RSC productions. Or hear anything sometimes.
AS: Oh, is that a problem then? Do you find that with your cameras you can’t always pick up…
JE: The audio is very interesting. I mean your response if very much the same as many stage managers’ response. “We can see the cameras why can’t the cameras hear what’s being said? The audience can.” But the cameras don’t – you have to put out specific microphones, which have to go back to a mixing desk. Stage managers really hate for either the cast or the actors or the audience to be able to see the microphones. We usually have to put out these four or five microphones in very specific places in order to get good sound. And good sound is more important than the picture because if you can’t really hear what’s being said you lose interest in the recording very quickly.
KD: I’ve been watching some very very early ones of our recordings because we’re having them digitised and you can see from right back in the old days when they used the camera mikes. So here some women, they come to the loggia and then you hear, “Blah, blah, blah.”
AS: Oh that’s awful. Oh dear, yeah. And have you got any particular favourites that you want to talk about? Anything that really stands out for you. Obviously, it’s one of those questions that’s full of perils…
JE: I have two real favourites, actually.
AS: Oh yeah?
JE: I absolutely adored Jerusalem which we recorded very recently and I think it was a magnificent production. Mark Rylance was completely stunning. So that was a real favourite of mine. My other real favourite was Humble Boy with that magnificent green grass set that looks quite wonderful in our recording. And I think it’s one of the funniest plays I’ve seen of Charlotte Jones.
AS: That’s right, that’s back in 2001, I think.
KD: Whereas my plays that I’ve never seen live, I’ve only seen it as a result of the archive, that’s Three Hours after a Marriage, which is the John Gay comedy that we used a clip of in all of our things. It’s got a fantastic set; it’s got a life-size giraffe, a painted Harlequin floor and it’s very 18th century. And the acting is superb for that kind of mannered acting. And Caucasian Chalk Circle, Complicite’s Caucasian Chalk Circle. When I first came to work in the museum was watching it in a reading room, had headphones, and it made me cry.
AS: Are there any times that times when things go wrong on the stage that you capture?
JE: Sometimes I wish they would because I think it’s really interesting, especially for school groups and drama students to see things going wrong. And it’s extraordinary how rare that is. I can’t actually remember… I mean, when you’re watching a recording closely, you will think, “Ah, he dried.” But they’re so good at covering up. I think out of 150 recordings that I supervised, hardly anything has gone wrong.
AS: And have there been any great things that got away once that you really wanted to do but for various reasons it couldn’t come through?
KD: The Donmar Othello. A couple of years ago.
JE: I was really sorry that we didn’t record the David Tennant Hamlet. We had got all the permissions and we were going to do it, but then the BBC decided they were doing it, then became really touch-and-go. And that has happened in the past, I think with the Judi Dench Oswald? When we had been all set up, we were going to record but the BBC came along and said “No” they were going to do it. But then they had trouble with the contract. As we had no trouble, we had no contracts. They ran into a problem with the contracts, the recording was never made and so that has been lost. Luckily, David Tennant’s Hamlet has been recorded.
KD: There was Pinter’s Krapp’s Last Tape Upstairs as well when again the BBC were going to record that.
AS: I think they did.
KD: They did do that one did they?
AS: Yes, they did. I’ve seen it on the TV.
KD: And there was a brilliant production of Colley Cibber’s Love’s Last Shift at the White Bear last year. We spent the whole time working out whether we would be able to do it, because it’s so small and Jill said it would be fine if they don’t all appear on stage at the same time. And then they all appeared on stage at the same time. And it was literally too small for us, so far away to see them.
AS: Now, obviously, these recordings are especially valuable as a record of the work of people who are no longer with us. So I’ve noticed you’ve got Ken Campbell and indeed Harold Pinter as a director. I don’t know if you have him as a performer, I don’t remember.
JE: Yes, we have him in The Lover.
AS: Oh yes.
KD: Paul Scofield; Robert Stephens, in their last performances.
AS: That was luck or did you specifically…?
JE: I think we knew it was likely to be Paul Scofield’s last performance. I think Robert Stephens; it was just a magnificent performance that Margaret wanted to have.
AS: Yeah, what was that?
JE: That was King Lear.
AS: Ah yes, the Barbican. Why isn’t every production videoed? Is that because of the huge expense?
JE: Yeah. It’s massively expensive.
AS: Can you give us some outline? I mean, are we talking £10,000?
AS: Ah, ok.
KD: We could say about the difference recording Enron at the Royal Court and recording at the West End. That put £5,000 on the recording.
JE: It’s actually, in the case of Enron, because the lighting is so spectacularly difficult for our engineers to deal with, we were actually going to have to use, to have a matinee performance where we buy all the seats to the matinee, and we have a rehearsal, camera rehearsal. Then we buy all the seats all over again for the evening performance and film it for real. And that was probably going to be £6,000 or £7,000 more than doing it at the Royal Court.
KD: Because we were all fixed to do it at the Royal Court, we saw it in Chichester, decided we were going to go. But then of course the tower, you can’t see the tower from the back of the stalls, you can’t see enough detail in the camera, so were waiting for it to go in the West End.
AS: Why do videos of production always look a little bit inert?
JE: I wondered if you would say that of some of our more recent ones. I think you might not, actually. I think, if you looked at Days of Significance for example, which was really dynamic. It’s a really dynamic recording. I think, they used to look inert because that’s the cameras being handled inexpertly. And the directors, even in the case of an OB they were just rather plodding. But I think as we’ve gone on…
AS: What’s OB, sorry?
JE: Outside Broadcast, the ones with the film van. If you haven’t got a really good director… because they’re being directed live, they’re being mixed live, which we do do, because it captures the spirit of the performance. I don’t think you would think of our current recordings as inert.
AS: Because I remember some of these original BBC plays were recorded live and broadcast live, which must have been quite terrifying. And so, I suppose, it’s the same kind of skill.
JE: It is, yes.
KD: What do you think of the NT Live? You know, their live broadcasts. They don’t seem as inert.
AS: Yes, that’s true
KD: But I think it’s also to do with context. I think when you come in to watch an archival recording you sit by yourself, wearing a pair of headphones, in a room, in the dark. It’s not the same as being with a group of people.
AS: So the actual emotional feeling of being a part of something. You know, you are literally eavesdropping on another audience.
KD: Yeah, and it changes your relationship to it. I’m a big weeper at sad events and sad music at the theatre. But actually when you’re watching it by yourself, it’s even worse. Just you and the headphones and a tiny screen; whereas I think if you watch things when they’re on display in the gallery, it’s more of an audience atmosphere. And even the much older recordings seem more dynamic because people are interacting with them.
JE: It’s really true.
AS: And how can the public access your video collection?
KD: To actually view one, they have to come to the Collection Centre in Olympia, where they come to see any of the archival material.
AS: That’s Blythe House.
KD: Yes. You e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. But you can also organise group viewings at the V&A. School groups often come and watch shows. Until An Inspector Calls came back on we used to have small groups in all the time of Complicite. There were usually clips in the gallery of various different shows.
JE: And you can find out what’s available to view on the website.
AS: Can any of this material be put online and do you see that happening in the future?
JE: We’ve recently got permission from the union to have one minute from each recording on our website. I think it’s very unlikely unless a very complicated system of payment for the actors was worked out. And we’re not set up, organised to be able to do that. But the actors would need to be paid.
AS: And why is that? Is it also because of piracy?
JE: That’s because the actors were acting for the audience, they weren’t acting for the recording. And it’s quite wrong that they should be taken advantage of in any way, I think.
KD: I think the unions are very protective of their members’ rights. Because it’s not just the performers, it’s the backstage staff. And now for a NT live broadcast they do get paid. I’m not sure what arrangement Digital Theatre had come to but because it’s a charging system it just changes the whole nature of it. Whereas ours is really predicated on good will, in the new public library the licensing agreement is even tighter. You watch it there and that’s it. No clips.
JE: Producers don’t get a copy. No educational use. Only you have to be a bona fide researcher to go and watch in the New York public library reading room. But we’re open to anybody.
KD: Anyone can come and watch it. Kids often come and watch things during summer holidays.
AS: You mentioned Digital Theatre, which, obviously, is a commercial company. Do you think they will be competing with you in the future, doing it their way and that might attract more people than researchers to Blythe House.
KD: We’re doing it for different reasons. I guess… anything that creates more of an audience for live theatre is good for us. Because that’s what we’re for, to record the way in which people respond to it. And I guess, they’re not competition because it’s very different and we can’t compete. You know, you watch them in a close space you can’t watch sit and them on your computer. And all the indications we’ve had so far is that the theatres who were involved in Digital Theatre are still happy for us to go and record. I think there would come a point; whereas if it’s a sell-out show we won’t both be able to go and record it. But as long as someone has captured it for us, that’s good enough.
AS: And what do you think the future of the Video Archive is? Do you see that it’s becoming more and more inexpensive to record and therefore your ability to…
JE: …I don’t think it is getting more inexpensive, because the ticket prices are going up so horrendously. It actually is getting more difficult parking in the West End for the film vans is getting more difficult. So in many ways it’s not going any easier. But perhaps the small-scale recordings can grow and get better quality. I think we’re achieving what we want to achieve in a way, except of course we’re not doing as many as we’d like. We would always like more funds. But I think we’ve reached a sort of plateau.
KD: We always hoped, I think, the original aspiration would be that there would be regional outposts who could record in the regions. You know, if Liverpool could set up a unit that did the North-West. I mean, we went and filmed The Caretaker in Liverpool but that’s again, it doubles the cost for us to take everyone out there, etc. And I think that, touch wood, as in the current economic climate you can’t tell, our funding is much more stable. We get money from the Society of London Theatres towards recordings, we get money from the V&A and we’re doing a lot more than we’ve ever been able to do.
JE: But of course we don’t know what the current climate is going to shape down. Maybe we won’t have as much money next year or year after that.
KD: But physically, we are at capacity. That is, we would need more staff. So you’d be talking about huge, huge investment.
JE: And another thing that is happening is that as there is less live multi-camera recording for television, although having said that of course all the big talent shows are live. But the places we’ve been drawing our crews from are getting less and less… as opera is less filmed, as dance is less filmed. The actual facilities trucks are not available as they used to be and the camera crew are probably not as available as they used to be. We’re all getting quite old now.
KD: Speak for yourself.
AS: On that ambiguous note… Thank you very much, Jill and Kate.
JE: Thank you
KD: Thank you
We'll let you know by email whenever we add new recordings to the site