In early 2021 we were approached by Museums Northumberland to see if we were interested in producing some content for a digital version of their renowned annual Miners’ Picnic celebration. This year was to be the 157th Miners’ Picnic and the team at Woodhorn Museum wanted something truly special to help people celebrate the significant event – albeit remotely. After being unable to run the event in 2020 due to you-know-what, they wanted to build on the success of the virtual celebrations of 2020, mark the occasion this year and present the museum to a new audience. We were delighted to rise to the challenge.

The team at Museums Northumberland had booked Maxïmo Park frontman Paul Smith to perform an intimate solo performance of his own songs and as well as traditional and contemporary songs connected to the North East’s coal mining heritage, set right inside the museum. Our team met with the creatives at Museums Northumberland, discussed their brief and shared ideas as to how to make the video really shine.

We didn’t just want to turn up, press record, and call it a day! We wanted to create a video that people would want to return to, something that was worthy of the performance’s setting and something that people would expect to see from a piece featuring such an iconic North East performer. Paul had selected imagery to share alongside his setlist taken by esteemed social documentary photographer, Mik Critchlow.  We wanted to create a memorable visual event that would capture hearts and minds and be able to reach more people than usual thanks to the digital nature of the event.

What did we do?

It was a tall order. We had to figure out how we could safely fit a full camera crew and kit, an artist and all of their equipment AND a full AV crew into one of the spaces at Woodhorn Museum, working within the Covid-guidelines to keep everyone safe.

We had half a day to capture an interview, teaser content and the full performance. Tough, but we’ve certainly had tougher! 

Lighting, sound and projection were provided by the incredible IngramAV. Whilst we toured the museum, we all shared ideas as to how we could really make this performance special. Having a room full of people all on the same page, striving to deliver the best quality product really helps turn a good project into a dream project. We all chipped in with ideas until we’d settled on a space and a plan of attack.

We were going to use a four-camera set-up to get as close to a virtual Glastonbury as possible. We had a jib, a dolly, a superzoom and a 4k wide, which meant every camera was rigged to allow us to emphasise the beauty of either the performance or space around us.

IngramAV lit our performance space with an undeniably beautiful mix of colour, shapes and patterns. The audio was professionally mixed and we were lucky enough to be able to project some of Mik Critchlow‘s incredible photography into the performance space.

Image of Paul Smith from the Miners Picnic event - Museums Northumberland and Turps Film

Photo © Mark Pinder

This project was a fantastic team effort and a pleasant surprise from start to end. Working with Paul Smith was a fantastic experience. He shared his ideas and listened to ours and was happy to follow a workflow that would allow a better quality final product. 

Most importantly, he was just a ludicrously canny bloke and a pleasure to work with. Nailing every interview question in one take, sharing stories with the crew and delivering an unbelievable performance alongside brilliant audience interaction with an audience that wasn’t even there! 10/10 – would film again!

The result?

This event went live on June 12th 2021 via the Woodhorn Museum website and social media, and the responses were great to see.

Museums Northumberland/Woodhorn Museums also enjoyed a fantastic reach of over 10K and thousands of likes, reactions and engagements with the content.

We’ve also had some lovely feedback from the client – and Paul Smith himself!

Tweet regarding Miners Picnic by Paul Smith from Maximo Park and Woodhorn Museum - Turps Film

If you have a video production project you’d like our help and expertise with, give us a shout! We’d love to hear more.