Up at 5am today for the grand making of the promotional video for In SatNav We Trust. This has been a long time coming. Last year I pretty much decided to go down the crowd funding route through Kickstarter or Unbound. I’ve yet to decide.
So an hour after getting up I was in the New Truck—The Truck is dead, long live The Truck—in the dark, it’s still dark at 6am just after the clocks have changed, I picked up my super assistant Amanda, who, it turns out, is a wizz with an autocue along with all her other talents. (Amanda is a superstar who supported me, opening my mail and generally looking after my life, while I drove around the country for six weeks writing the Travelogue.)
An hour later we arrived in Oxford and picked up the camera crew and headed off to Port Meadow where there ensued much awkward forgetting of lines and shivering in the freshening breeze. At some point I decided not to wear the waistcoat because it looked like being a warm day, which later turned out to be the right decision being the most shirt-sleeviest day of the year so far. However, dressed in my finest green Portugese tweed jacket (who’d have thought?) and jeans, with a (increasingly unkempt) Tattersall check shirt, I suspect I looked every inch the TV presenter in the mould of Jeremy Clarkson, only less fat and considerably less right wing (certainly less well connected).
After another hour, during which we decided that you really can’t point a camera at the trees in the distance and pretend it’s Cumberland or Westmorland (you might get away with Rutland but without the other two the gag wouldn’t work), we said cut for the final time and moved on to Oxford City Centre.
After a bit of walking along in front of a wall looking at some battlements, pretending it was a castle in a completely different part of the country (see previous comment about Rutland) we moved onto Broad Street and the steps of the Bodleian Library. Here there was considerably less fluffing of lines and a tad more professionalism. With a few people sitting around and, no doubt, earwigging, I had to get my act together and look a bit less of an arse. Apparently there were plenty of people walking by with looks of, ‘who is that bloke’, ‘have I seen him on something’, ‘oh no it was only on QVC’. Anyway, I was a bit better by this time and with a propper professional looking mike clipped to my shirt I felt every inch the correspondent (only reading badly from an autocue on a tablet, so not that great really).
Finally we repeated the process under Hertford Bridge where, by this time, I’d convinced myself that I looked like some Oxford academic recording a documentary for BBC2. My lines were delivered much more fluidly and I was even beginning to adlib. Of course any genuine Oxford academics walking past would have seen right through this (I think there might have been a few as, spending time in Oxford, you get to recognise them) even if I’d fooled the mass of Italian students decamping from busses around the corner.
On the whole it was a very jolly day and, so long as my tendency to look at the autocue rather than the camera didn’t ruin it, we should have got some pretty good footage. Put it together with the excellent animation of the route previously done by Hidden Design and it should make a damn good crowd funding video that can be repurposed as a promo for the book when it comes out.
I’ll tell you what though, being a TV presenter is not nearly as easy as it looks but that’s still no excuse to punch someone in the face.