1. Lockdown story gathering: exploring new ways of working

    a boy and his golden retriever look out of the window during lockdown

    What do you do when you need to capture stories but can’t physically get out due to lockdown?

    Well, one thing’s for sure, 2020 has shown us how adaptable and versatile we can be.

    This year we had shoots scheduled with Dogs for Good which had to be adapted as we all faced new challenges with COVID-19 and lockdown. The charity were already regularly capturing and sharing great content using the skills they’d learnt on our storytelling and smartphone filmmaking courses, but they wanted our help in crafting their autumn appeal.

    The challenge – how can we make a film without actually visiting the location? The family we were filming were shielding, so we needed to remove any risk, even from a socially distanced shoot. But, there is always a way and we relish a challenge!

    The solution– Zoom and training. We decided to conduct the interview over Zoom, teach them how to shoot the B-roll themselves on their mobiles, and then we would edit it together.

    Here’s how we did it;

    Start at the beginning

    For anyone who has worked with us or been on any of our training courses, you will know it all starts with a good brief. The key to a film that ticks all the boxes is good planning and preparation. So, step one, a conversation about the brief with Dogs for Good to really home in on the key messages.


    This was a new way of working and so we needed to explore how to get the best results out of recording on Zoom. We had to go back to basics and look at the small but important details; how to record the interviewee’s face and not ours, working out if we could record on HD- and did it matter if we couldn’t.


    It was important to ensure good audio so we posted the family a lapel mic and talked them through how to use it. By connecting the mic to their phone we could record a separate audio track, just in case the internet dropped or there was an interruption at a critical point during the Zoom call.

    Location set-up

    We helped the family choose the best location for the interview within their home. This was a balance of practicality, lighting, background and ensuring it was a quiet space away from interruptions. We checked the camera angle and even recommended what they could wear for the interview.

    Smartphone training

    Of course we needed to ensure the family felt confident in filming on their phone so we ran an abbreviated version of our smartphone filmmaking course. This covered filming skills like camera angle, lighting, composition and how to shoot sequences. We weren’t so bothered about the audio because this was going to come from the interview.

    Interview time

    Using Zoom, Catherine conducted the interview whilst I listened in, making notes of my favourite soundbites and jotting down ideas for B-roll. Having heard their story we were then able to give the family a list of suggestions for B-roll that would work and some tips on how to achieve the best results.

    Sharing files

    Using Dropbox to share files meant the B-roll could be drip fed as and when it was shot and we could review it and give feedback as we went along. Much better than getting to edit day and realising we had gaping holes in the footage. It also allowed the family to capture things as they happened naturally, rather than needing to set shots up.

    Edit & feedback

    It was now my job to bring the interview and B-roll together in the first edit and then we were back in our comfort zone of the normal film feedback process. The first edit was reviewed, amends made and the final film was delivered ahead of deadline without us even leaving the house, let alone being on location!

    We are really pleased with the final film which you can see below.

    Read more about our COVID secure work this year or get in touch to find out how we can help you.

    To keep up to date with all our top tips and guest posts on our blog you can subscribe here.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.