School Production Professional - NOT! - video

I am fuming. In fact, I am now more fuming than I was having re-watched some of teens' earlier school production professional DVDs. Why? You may well ask.

This year we purchased the DVD of my 3 year old daughter's school Christmas production for the sum of £20. Now, for this I expected the company that were hired to do the filming to be (a) professional, (b) capable and (c) competent. Unfortunately for us, they company were none of these things! I won't name them *yet* as I'll wait to see what kind of response the school get from them.

The company that film school/charity productions/work are part of a larger organisation who show some seriously big named organisations on their website. I question whether they have also only worked for those clients the once if this arm of their business is anything to go by!

So, along they come. They clearly set up a tripod - actually, may be doubtful they even used one judging by the shaking and juddering in parts of the filming - and stood at the back of the school hall, possibly inside the cloakroom just to make it that little bit worse. The sound was dire at the best of times so I think the cloakroom did come in to play.

They filmed so far away in fact that they got in the rafters of the school hall, thus leaving the little girls on stage looking as far away as when I was at a Bon Jovi concert in the back rows of Wembley Arena. Hang on, no, I've had better views from there and managed better videos! I do not need to see the roof, the backs of the heads of the older girls watching it and the sides of the hall. I want to see the children, you know, those little moving dots on the stage. The ones that are mine and I am paying to see on your DVD.

I am wondering if they hired in a job seeker to do the actual filming. Someone completed a form saying they were available in December for £3 ph and had a mobile phone with video functionality. Yep, I think that's what they did.

The camera operator enjoyed long-shots, zooming in to faces so they went out of focus and a bit of 'Blair Witch' shuddery camera work. Priceless. Actually, no it wasn't, it cost a minimum of £1,300 as in order to get them to do it, they had to sell a minimum of 65 DVDs at £20 each. Owch I hear you say.

Now, the cost of the DVD is another issue. The production ran for around 45 minutes. I doubt for one second the company attended any kind of rehersal to know what was going to happen and work out shots and angles. So, a bloke turns up in a van, unloads a camera and (possibly) tripod, sets up at the back of the hall and presses 'record'. Ummm.....I would have done that for far less money! I can get a set of 50 DVDs for around £20 and burn them happily on my PC. I have a colour printer that probably does a better job at the cover art than their one did and I have lots of plain paper to print on. I suspect they made about £1100 out of this - not bad for about an hours work plus a bit of burning/printing is it.

I have written to the school as I honestly feel they have been taken the mickey out of. If this production company were to shoot any more of the schools plays, I would not buy one. My husband, who works in TV and started life as a cameraman, nearly fell off the sofa when I put the DVD on. 'Nuff said.

I think next time if the school are daft enough to employ these amateurs, I'll be insisting I can stand at the back and record my own version. As you may have gathered, this was not an option open to us this time. Note the 'this time' in that sentence....I'll even burn copies for the other parents!


  1. Remember that it's a MINIMUM of 65 DVDs, - they could have sold more!!

    Only using the one video camera has a number of distinct advantages:

    - there's no editing to be done as there's only one video stream
    - less investment has to be made in purchasing more kit
    - there's no need to pay a second cameraman
    - if the video camera fails, then point to the T&Cs and say "Oh dear, an act of God"

    Do these people have professional indemnity (and liability) insurance? If so, I have a feeling they might be needing it!

    When I shoot a wedding, I always take three cameras and a second shooter with me, having previously sussed out the venue(s).

    When capturing such events, you can never take too much kit, or be too prepared.


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