As some of you will know my first career before photography was producing and directing documentaries and factual  television so when one of my fave programes 'Countryfile' asked me to follow them for a couple of days and capture behind the scenes photographs of their team at work I was thrilled!

I still have super fond memories of (the one and only) John Craven having a cuppa in my kitchen before I drove him off to location.  I can still see my (usually very composed) hubby's face as John introduced himself  'Hello I'm John, John Craven' - the hubster just looked wide eyed as if to say - 'yes I's you off Newsround - in OUR kitchen!'  Unfortunately I wasn't with Mr Craven this time, but had the opportunity of meeting the equally lovely Margherita Taylor.  They were filming at Greenway Agatha Christie's old summer residence down on the River Dart in Devon near Tiverton.  Making a film all about the beautiful Camelia garden and Greenway house with all it's best seller, thriller history. 


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As a behind the scenes photographer you need to work in the background and slip by largely unnoticed. You are expected to document everything that is going on to really capture the atmosphere on set from start to finish. Knowing what was happening, why things take time, when to speak and more importantly when to stay quiet is paramount!  Having experience of filming I knew when I could grab people for quick portraits, where I would be out of shot and when to remove myself altogether if time pressure was becoming too much.

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Before the end of the fist day we headed north to catch up with the other crew who had been out all day in the snow and the two crews combined to film the end of the show with Matt Baker and had a few snowball fights thrown in for good measure!

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The second day I headed further North again to a farm near Chulmleigh to film with Adam Henson and an angora sheep farmer who was shearing her flock ready to send the wool to be made into garments.

The question most people haves asked me is... has much changed from when I last filmed last with them 8 years ago?! Not a lot to be honest - the teams were still super friendly and fun, the subject matter still brilliant and the days still tight on time! 

Countryfile films most of it's short films in less than two days, which believe me is very short for Prime Time telly.  Most of their filming is natually outdoors which means filming can be under extra pressure from short daylight hours and the vagaries of British weather.  Then there is the added pressure of travelling from location to location, getting contributors into position and having to feed people!  The crews are made up of director (who often self shoots), cameraperson, sound operator, presenter and researcher.  As anyone who’s ever done a shoot knows, things don’t always go to plan, these shoots were relatively straightforward, but we were still under time pressure.  To the untrained eye filming can look laid back and very relaxed - but often they are not shooting, because they are waiting for an airplane to pass overhead, a piece of kit to be fetched, a battery to be replaced...all the while knowing that the clock is ticking. 

In my opinion they still make brilliant programmes with fab content that look stunning - Hurrah for The File - shame I didn't get a chance to catch up with John though...hopefully next time.

If you'd like to see the finished films the links are below x

Countryfile - Adam's Farm

Countyfile - Agatha Christie Greenaway

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