The brief from the Heritage Lottery Fund emphasised the need to reach the widest audience and all levels of society including children. One of the ways in which we answered this criterion was to show how we would link into the school curriculum by encouraging an interest in heritage and by involving the children in the Project. Lesley Molyneux, the head of Elston All Saints Primary School, suggested that the children themselves should make a commentary for the video while they walked around the Heritage Trail. By using their own words the commentary was likely to appeal to other children more readily than words spoken by an adult.
The project was slow to start given other priorities in the team but by the spring of 2009 Dave Sankey, having recently finished converting and editing videos and cine film of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, took on the task of producing the school video. The original plan to have the school film the whole video with a hand held camcorder was abandoned in favour of editing the children’s pieces to camera standing in front of each building into a background video of the trail filmed by John Baty, an experienced photographer who would use a tripod where necessary. The school would be left with the responsibility for separately filming the children standing in front of each building and describing it. These segments would then be edited into John Baty’s video.
The first attempt resulted in a number of problems. The video of the trail was taken on a windy day and the noise of the gusts was too intrusive to be acceptable on the soundtrack despite being disguised to some extent by incidental music. There were also problems of rippling due to an old tape being used. Early shooting by the school was also unsatisfactory with uneven lengths of footage and insufficiently detailed commentary in some cases which would have conveyed little to the future generations that the video was intended for, its purpose being to teach other children, now and in future generations, about their village and thereby to foster an interest in heritage for its own sake. The children were therefore given a script, adapted from the trail leaflet captions, which could be printed on large cards and held off camera for them to read from. This failed however as cars would pass by during the longer sessions that were needed while the narratives were being read. The compromise finally reached was that the children would record their pieces at the school, uninterrupted by passing traffic, and these would be used as voiceovers against extra footage shot by John Baty of the buildings on the trail. The exterior shooting for the school was then limited to a few seconds for each child while they merely stood in front of the building long enough to identify it.
CLASS 4 (2010) OF ELSTON ALL SAINTS PRIMARY SCHOOL, NARRATORS OF THE HERITAGE TRAIL VIDEO
These problems, together with school holidays and other school commitments delayed the completion of the video. Winter shooting would make for a less attractive film so the trail shooting was deferred till the spring. It was clear that the video could not be completed by the time of the May exhibition. The school provided their voiceovers in early 2010 but it wasn’t until after the exhibition that work could begin on reshooting the video trail with a new tape and with the microphone blanked off and the school could provide the extra footage of the children introducing the buildings. Dave Sankey then edited the segments together, with a view to screening it in the school before the long summer holidays. In the event completion was delayed due to software problems, the final version being delivered to the school only just before the end of term.