Beyond the news: filming documentaries and features

While much of the media coverage of the College is generated by time-specific and research-led news and features, often with so much going on and so many interesting and exciting people at Imperial, there is scope for something a little more personal to feature.

Kallie receives a little direction from Louise and Filip in the labs

PhD researcher and bride-to-be (now a newlywed) Kallie Heap (Chemistry) took part in the filming of an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride for BBC3’s hit programme, where the groom plans the wedding and hopes for the best! Most of the filming took place at home and with her friends, but on Thursday 6 June the programme came to film her in labs at Imperial.

The two-person film crew – Louise Allen and Filip Wyganowski from Renegade Pictures – had plenty of experience with this sort of programme, but often what makes for great and interesting TV is not necessarily the day-to-day ins and outs of what takes place in the labs.

Filip had three top tips for filming in labs:

  1. Wear gloves – important for both media and researchers, especially if there’s equipment or substances you don’t normally use
  2. Brief on potential health and safety beforehand
  3. Provide plenty of time – it often takes longer than you’d think to produce a small piece of footage

“At first it was a bit weird to take instructions and directions, but it quickly becomes second nature. Some of the more set-up shots are a little cringe-worthy and you get a bit embarrassed, but most of the clips are natural,” Kallie added. “It’s been good fun, and I think we’ve got some nice shots today. It was a chance to show off science, one for the geeks!”

The episode will be aired in next Tuesday (29 October), giving some idea of the length of time required to produce and edit the final product. Often news features are turned around within a couple of days, but longer documentaries can take more than 18 months to complete, much like feature-length movies.


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