“Timing is key”: Myth-to-Measure share experience on ‘fixing’ shoots in the UK
Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Developing projects in a foreign market is always a complex task, and calls for true expertise to achieve the right result. Anglo-French communications experts Myth-to-Measure know this better than most, having developed a great reputation when assisting international companies with filming projects in the United Kingdom.
With diverse and broad-reaching production and creative talent, Myth-to-Measure are the ideal 'fixers' for production companies who need an ally who really understands the market they're trying to work within – and they're always happy to shed light on the difficulties and possibilities of both finding the right fixer and fixing projects themselves.
This year, Myth-to-Measure started working with popular French political show C'Politique. The show has a large domestic audience of between 700k and 1m viewers each week, yet still struggled to create content in the UK. The challenges can be enormous, no matter the subject matter and domestic expertise of the team arranging a filming project. In the case of C'Politique, the team intended to film a series on the fallout from Brexit. Many production teams around the world are eager to discuss this pertinent topic, yet C'Politique, as so many others, were struggling to find interviewees and suffered endless cancellations. Another challenge with this specific client was the timeframe of the works: as C’Politique is very topical, they never can plan in advance what they will film and where they will go from one week to the next. A specificity that culturally isn’t always well received in the UK.
C’Politique was looking to film the part of their show that’s called EN COULISSES which translates in “behind the scenes”. This specific format does not have any voice over and it is not about finding people to interview, but people to shadow for one day. It is about living the events with them, through their interactions with other people. In the UK, it makes researching and finding the right people extra-hard, because they are not used to this concept and can be a bit put off by that.
For their first trip to the UK, Myth-to-Measure were able to assist thanks to their network of contacts, and ultimately helped the company secure 3 sequences within the brief time they were in London. The company assisted C'Politique in contacting and securing coverage of The Bow Group, a major conservative organisation in the United Kingdom who are campaigning for a 'No-Deal' Brexit. This provided real, on-the-ground insight into the motivations behind the most avid Brexit supporters – something which often eludes even domestic filming crews.
C’Politique came back to the UK in September, not long after the prorogation of Parliament was announced. The main challenge this time was that they came at a time of uncertainty as until last minute, nobody in the UK knew if the Parliament would be suspended, if there would be a call for general elections or if none of this would happen. C’Politique called on a Friday to start filming the following Monday and needed 3 sequences. They wanted to shadow a journalist the last day before prorogation to show the difficulties of covering such political times. They were also looking to meet with an MP opposing Brexit and Boris Johnson and to join a rally from the Brexit Party at Sedgefield Racecourse 2 days later.
Myth-to-Measure spent time contacting MPs, using their network in the UK and found out they’d usually be quite happy to be shadowed as long as they’d been given enough to time to prepare. Unfortunately, just like the rest of the country, MPs did not know if they would still have to go to Parliament on Tuesday or if they were suspended. It made it more difficult for us to plan the sequences and when we ended up not being able to shadow an MP, we chose instead to meet with a major activist in the country, Femi Oluwole. We were lucky enough to get him, but it also shows that in the UK, working in a rush is often not the best approach.
C’Politique’s journalist had to go back to France on Tuesday evening to start the editing of the footage they had already filmed. Myth-to-Measure was able to send someone to cover the filming at Sedgefield Racecourse the next day. The company has a team of professionals and can replace part or all of a crew to avoid travelling and accommodation costs.
Pierre Lascar, journalist and director for C'Politique, says: "Working with Myth-to-Measure enabled me to film sequences I would not have been able to found on my own. Myth-to-Measure's solid knowledge of the United Kingdom and excellent reactivity enabled the team to work on a very short notice."
These experiences help to highlight the key factors which overseas teams must take into account when they develop their own projects. Another key location which many overseas teams try to film within are the Houses of Parliament, yet few foreign crews are aware of the difficulties to get such authorization, as well as what these authorizations actually cover: In Parliament, there are historically many things that you won’t be allowed to film, and there is no way around that, especially for foreign crews, who will seldom be given precedence on national crews.
The most important lesson here is that these things take time, so advance planning is essential. It is also important to follow up all communication tasks swiftly to avoid being forgotten amongst a deluge of similar requests. We highly recommend beginning the process of scouting for locations, interviewees and news stories at least three weeks before filming is scheduled to commence, and if you're unsure of how things work, always contact a production company who already have a presence in the market you're hoping to reach. It is important to note that weekends are not a good time to look for interviewees and sequences as in the UK, most people would not answer their professional emails or calls then. Lastly, having a back-up plan means that if everything falls through on your first attempt, there's always a way to get things back on track.