I often get asked ‘what’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever filmed’. Well, you do end up in some really strange situations it’s got to be said.
The subjects of filming the difficult, funny, challenging or upsetting all deserve their own list of five, but for this blog it’s all about the weirdest. So from the TV shows I’ve done, to the filming for BellyflopTV, here goes…
5. Police raids on dodgy off-licences in Rochdale. The filming involved documenting the work of ‘Operation Maverick’, which targets rogue landlords. So, for example, it was privately rented properties that were over-populated, and also business premises that do not abide by the rules such as trading in unhygienic kitchens or selling counterfeit alcohol. The lowlight of this situation was a busy takeaway with loads of ‘Just Eat’ orders coming in being made by staff in squalid conditions- this was an insight to a parallel universe of squalor all around us.
4. Mud swamps, hot air balloons and light aircraft with no doors! I did a series of films for Baltic Holidays. There was all kinds of weird situations I found myself in, from trying to film in kayaks, a mud swamp (where the only part of me not covered in mud was the one hand that held the camera), hot air balloons, shooting ranges, bob sleighs, and then the altitude clip- there is something unnerving getting in a two seater aircraft with no doors on, with a pilot who does not speak English.
‘Trash the Dress’– what a way to spend an afternoon filming!
3. Trash the Dress. Take a bride, take her dress, and a few tins of paint in a garage mechanics yard. I filmed most of this with my jaw on the floor (and a bin bag over the camera for protection!)
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2. Ghost Hunting with the Happy Mondays. I was Series Producer of a ‘ghost hunting’ programme- one particular episode involved taking Shaun, Bez, and the other members of the Manchester group ‘The Happy Mondays’ ghost hunting around Leicester. This was one of the most bizarre situations ever, filmed over two nights from 11pm till 4am. The link here is not uploaded to YouTube by me, but is the full episode.
The insurance the production company had to take out for this filming was huge, as there was a large amount of uncertainty if they would even show up!
Uri Geller– someone you never forget once you have filmed him!
1. Uri Geller. Fullstop. Uri is the well known spoon bender and TV personality, and he would probably accept he is seen as quite unusual. I filmed with Uri three times for various ITV shows, one where he spent three days living with a family in Exeter where he built a domino relay around their house as part of a game show called ‘Celebrities Under Pressure’ (I could now write four paragraphs of weird and wonderful things that happened during that shoot- at one point whilst filming he asked the younger members of the family if they would like to speak to Michael Jackson on the phone- I was beyond excited, but they just said ‘Do you know Duncan from Blue instead?’ Yes he did, and he had Duncan’s Mum’s number so phoned her!), I then did his ‘Stars in their Eyes’ film (which is in the attached link) when he appeared on the lookalike and soundalike TV programme as Charles Aznavour. This film involved spending time in his home and I could now write another four paragraphs of weirdness I encountered, but the highlight of my Uri experiences was on the day of filming ‘Stars in their Eyes’ he gave me a private rendition of ‘She’ in his dressing which involved him singing solo to just me as he had his MP3 player headphones plugged in his ears.
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Author: Jonathan Robinson is the founder of BellyflopTV and films the majority of the videos, and also has worked in broadcast TV since 1996.