If it’s worth producing, it’s worth filming

Last month, I was very privileged to film the Laura Sandham School of Dance Showcase 2017 at Lancaster Grand Theatre.  It’s the second show I’ve filmed for Miss Laura over the last few years.

I completely enjoy filming shows:  Having a background in technical theatre, it’s nice to go back and feel like part of the team in a big show – there’s something about being involved in a live show which is both exhilarating and terrifying.  Filming shows like these make me a better film maker because as much as I can plan my shots beforehand, I can never anticipate just what a stage full of six year old little girls dressed as fishes will do next – they often go off script as they peer out into the audience looking for their families and get totally distracted by the experience – so it makes me have to thing on my feet and respond to the unknown quickly (you don’t get a second take!).

Performing at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster is a rite of passage for most children who are brought up in the area:  when I was ten, one of my first on-stage memories is of prancing about The Grand Theatre stage dressed in a swimming costume with leaves sewn all over it and wearing an orange wig as I played one of the many oompa Loompa who joined the Lancaster Footlights Christmas play of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that year.  I have a very distinct and pin sharp memory of looking out into the auditorium and being completely blinded by the lights and having nightmares that I might not see the edge of the stage and fall into the orchestra.  It’s a similar memory of exhilaration and terrification (made that word up I think) which I tap right back into these days when I film a live show.  It’s the seat of your pants experience which mostly brings out the best performance but which always has the dangerous possibility of things sliding into complete disaster!

The unpredictability of little dancers at the Laura Sandham School of Dance Showcase 2017.


For Laura’s show, I set up four cameras – two in the circle, one in the orchestra pit on a level with the stage and the final one, a Go Pro camera at the back of the stage looking out so you get the view that the boys and girls on stage get – it’s their eye view – and the shot which I hope will remind them of their time on that stage.  Filming with four cameras gives me lots of scope for a fast-paced, punchy final edit – it’s televisual – and actually often allows me to focus away from mistakes which we might want to edit from our minds anyway!

A special place to watch – from the stage at Lancaster Grand Theatre


I think that in these days where we can cover events and capture them on film, there is no reason not to do so. If a show is worth putting on, it’s worth filming – I can’t imagine what it would be like to see the ten year old me as an oompa loompa – I think it would be amazing (I don’t think that there is even a surviving photo of this most momentous occasion in theatrical history).  So these days, I think we must capture these shows (and I don’t just mean getting Uncle Roy to film it on his phone).


The Little Mermaid mad up the whole of the second act.


The Showcase 2017 was delightful and it’s there now for posterity! A first Act of performances from young people of all ages – singing, dancing and playing the saxophone. And a second Act which told the story of The Little Mermaid which was so beautiful, tears rolled down my cheeks when I edited it!

I can’t wait to film the next one 🙂


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