My degree was in TV & Film Production. We had no exams, we had no dissertations. It was all oursework. Our major project was to work in pairs to create a documentary. On any topic.
Denzel and I were going to do it on Guide Dogs for the Blind. They’re cute cuddly and gave us a rare chance for an overdose in puppies (internet wasn’t like it is now).
So we were sat in the middle of Salisbury, on a bench, discussing our approach, our angle, our motivation, when we spotted someone who looked an awful lot like Terry Pratchett. In fact it WAS Terry Pratchett. And we’re both massive fans.
So yes, we’re both fans, so we did what anyone would do in our position. We followed him. We followed him, giggling like a couple of teenagers, daring each other to speak to him, trying to think of a reason to strike up a conversation. Neither of us had a book on us that he could sign. And then inspiration hit. We could do our documentary on him.
Unfortunately, I’d already claimed the role of Producer on the show, so that meant it was down to me to speak to him. I summoned up all of the courage I had, and approached him in Virgin Records (does that still exist?). I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was probably a lot of burbly nonsense. But I came away with his PERSONAL telephone number to call him to arrange the filming. He’d agreed.
Somehow, he’d agreed to a pair of students filming him. Nutter!
Anyhow I arranged the filming to be in Salisbury’s nicest hotel for a few months down the line. I also arranged a trip to Oxford to interview Stephen Briggs – he converts the books into scripts, and also writes all the accompanying books to the series. He’s a very charming, charismatic man and he agreed to be the presenter. This was an excellent move – it stopped it looking like a student production.
We also interviewed Paul Kidby, who’s the newest artist who draws the covers. We got great footage of his artwork, unfortunately he wasn’t very good on camera, so had to drop the interview from the final cut.
I also manage to track down the agent of the guy who does the recordings for the audio book. You may have actually heard of this guy, Tony Robinson?
We got given a half four slot to get into his flat, set up the equipment, film and get out again. This was a terrifying prospect. It usually takes us at least an hour to set up the equipment – and we didn’t even know what his flat was like. Would have to be a real bodge job, seat of your pants, wing it kind of thing. Which so far had been how the whole thing had been arranged. SO we crossed our fingers, made a pact that NEITHER of us, under any circumstances was to utter the words “I have a cunning plan”, and headed off to London.
We did it! Somehow, some way we got in there, set up, miked him up, filmed, interviewed, avoided saying the words, and even suppressed huge grins when at some point during the interview he (of his own volition) said ‘Baldrick’.
And somehow, between all of this, some fan interviews and some filming of a book-signing that Terry happened to be doing in our local Ottakers (does that still exist?) we put together a 15 minute documentary. AND it got shown at the Discworld Convention (which we couldn’t attend cos we were poor students and couldn’t afford it). And we kind of got offered the opportunity to sell it. However we couldn’t agree on a few things and had to drop out of that. Goddamit.
And to this day I thank my lucky stars that I had a shallow tutor, who was wowed by all things celebrity, because I got a 2:1.
And that is how I interviewed the most famous fantasy writer. And Baldrick as well.