Cuppas, cameras and collaboration: Behind the scenes of the promotional video

Tea-time in the Heritage Open Days office is a serious business. 14 different types of tea between us... serious. But more than that... it's a time of exchange and re-assessment, of pooling time-tables and to-do lists, of decision making and looking forward; allowing space for new ideas, like promotional videos...

© Nicola Graham - Henry Hurt introducing his company in the video

The idea takes hold...

...The kettle goes on again. More tea and conversation gathers focus. Maps come out, properties are selected, fingers crossed and phone calls made. A film crew takes shape, organisers are on board, equipment hired and finally... The Road Trip is born.

The plan

Three days filming over two weeks, to showcase an eclectic mix of properties taking part in Heritage Open Days, spanning Essex, Leeds and Nottingham. The Crew: myself and filmakers Jack Mead and Andrew Walker.

And we’re off!

Day 1 - Essex

A flat tyre delays us by two hours but the mood is still one of excited anticipation as we survey the 16th century home of Jean Ezra and listen to extraordinary tales of renovation that the house has undergone to restore it to its former beauty. Nick and Jean, talk excitedly about their plans for Heritage Open Days, which will include the presence of the Essex Militia, in September.

Day 2 - Leeds

The day is blustery, with a wind that threatens to sweep us off our feet. The weather flatters Leeds Town Hall, which towers triumphantly in gothic splendour in the heart of the city. Heritage Open Days organiser Lynda Kitching greets us with James Hill, Art and Regeneration Officer, and the tour begins. After the interviews, we stay to film a chance organ recital before taking to the streets to interview Leed’s public and their ideas on heritage.

Day 3 - Nottingham

We find G H Hurt & Son Shawl factory, set back from a busy road in Beeston. We chat to Organiser Eileen Atherton about the exciting new developments in the programme this year. Inside we are met with a hive of industry, a treasure chest of old knitting machines and stories. Mr Henry Hurt, the owner, greets us and shows us around. His team have come in especially, including his grand-daughter. We feel we are in the presence of something very special and loath to leave...

Homeward reflections

....but leave we do,  in mutual awe of the people we have met and the places we have seen. The determination for celebration of communal history actioned again and again by organisers such as Nick, Lynda and Eileen, the true heroes of Heritage Open Days. We are tired but full of stories and their infectious enthusiasm.

With four and a half hours of footage to compress into five mins, Andrew and Jack begin the editing process that evening. 


Thanks goes again to all those who took part in the filming of the video. For a greater insight into Behind the Scenes, read the Q & A blog post with filmmaker Jack Mead. If you have yet to see the film, check it out on our website.