At the end of my last blog post I mentioned that I hadn’t seen one of our treasures – the confession of Guy Fawkes, until I was asked to produce it for a film crew.
ThisÂ document was broadcast last night on National Geographic Channel in episode one ofÂ ‘Bloody Tales of the Tower’.
So, how does filming work?
Filming takes place duringÂ weekdays and, as a working archive, we need to balance a goodÂ filming service with the needs of the public and members of staff.
After all the paperwork is completedÂ and aÂ date and time scheduled, what service can film crews expect?
A few days before the agreed filming date a member of the press office orders up the documents that the crew wish to film, this is to assess the document and decide whether a conservator needs to be present during filming.
If a member of the public wishes to see the same document while the press office have it then a member of the document services team canÂ borrow the document from the press office.
On the day, the film crew are met at reception by a member of the press office who escorts them to their filming location, where their requested documents will be waitingÂ with book-rests, backboards, weights, glovesÂ and other materials necessary for the correctÂ use of documents.
Our main filming location is one of ourÂ repositories. Out of theÂ 19 on site,Â we use the oneÂ with the least amount ofÂ ‘traffic’. During filming,Â crews have to pauseÂ to let a member of staff produce a document for a reader if required, but because fewer records are ordered regularly from thisÂ area, the risk of that happening isÂ quite low.
This repository, contrary to popular belief as being ‘in the bowels of the building’ is actually on the top floor, it is very cool and often mistaken for a basement on screen. The temperature and humidity are controlled for conservation reasonsÂ and crews are advised to wear appropriate clothing before filming starts.
AÂ member of the press officeÂ is on hand throughout theÂ filming process. Their priority is to ensure the documents are handled correctly and archival best practice is followed.Â (They are sometimes also enlisted as an extra to push a trolley or turn a page so we get our five seconds of fame!)
Once filming is completed the press officer escorts the crew back to the foyer and returns the document, ending a (hopefully) smooth process for everyone.
We cannot accept all filming requests due to some of the above restrictions, however you may be interested to know we have been approached for feature films and music videos as well as documentaries.