Filming is one of those things where someone’s only limit is their imagination.
Oh and money. As well as time, effort, and what is actually achievable with the laws of gravity etc.
That doesn’t stop unusual requests being made to either film and/or edit a video though, and over the years I’ve certainly had some strange asks. Here are my top 5!
1. Could you help with my idea for a music video in a church? Now I have made some low-budget music videos before, and I had a few ‘singalongs’ on my YouTube channel back in the day. But this request was for a video for an amateur singer. They wanted to film it in a church and thought it would be fairly easy until you listen to the concept. Firstly where is the church? (‘Could you find one we were asked), they wanted a huge green screen behind them. Now the green screen is difficult to light correctly, but massive screens in a church required lighting on the scale of TV dramas. The congregation, who would all be in 70’s clothes… where do we find these people, who find the clothes… as far as I know the video never happened.
2. Could you film the inside of a tyre as it travels at 70mph? I can’t quite remember why they need to film this I just explained how as it would be dark inside the tyre and little room for lights, they probably need to just get a computer-generated image made instead. This was a phone request, as often unrealistic requests are. If they wrote it in an email and proofread it back they would hopefully realise what a crazy ask this was.
3. Can you edit the plant out of a video? Again a phone call whilst on a shoot(you spot the pattern), and very urgent. An apprentice (in a nameless government department) had filmed an interview with the most important person in the department, and the apprentice was so nervous about filming a video message with them that they didn’t realise the spider plant directly behind the important person’s head- which now amusingly looked like the important person was wearing a jesters hat. Can I edit the plant out? (no. sorry). They were too nervous to try and reshoot it so they attempted it themselves by zooming into the important person’s head so it filled up the entire video, and looked like the baby in the sun at the start of The Teletubbies. And that’s how it was sent out to the hundreds of people in the department.
4. I’m the producer, I’ll take over from the presenter. Now, this was when working on a live TV show. The presenter was not looking too well, and neither were the viewing figures. One of the bosses had a great idea; the presenter would leave the show halfway through the programme and the Producer (who the viewers would have absolutely no idea who it was) would step in on-screen and ‘save the day’. The head of the department heard about the idea and said ‘Over my dead body’. I was roped into Plan B- I was asked to go and speak to another presenter in a neighbouring studio to see if they could take over presenting a show they had never seen, which starts in 15 minutes. I felt like I was trying to set them up for a Noel ‘Gotcha Oscar’ (which was done at the time). Needless to say, everyone soon realised this attempt at making the TV show headline news with the emergency situation was just silly.
5. Another music video, for another Government department. We were asked to do a ‘singalong’ video for a staff awards night knees up. They, well actually just one person in the entire department, wanted the staff to mime to the 1984 Bonnie Tyler track ‘I Need a Hero’. They even got a new version of the song with new lyrics recorded by an actual singer. The new title put me off so much I avoided filming it (I really thought it would just never actually happen) but it did and someone else in Bellyflop filmed it instead. The video was done in the offices and was awkward- staff miming with pens, eating bananas, and dancing out of lifts. The film was shown at the event and it seems possibly someone had an axe to grind. The title of the song? ‘I need a pay rise’.
The silliest question is the one never asked, and it’s surprising what can be achieved with some great imagination and willing participants, it could go viral. If you have a video idea then email it to me at Jonathan@bellyflop.tv, but have a read back to yourself before sending it!