Behind the scenes: Q & A with film maker Jack Mead

Welcome to Jack Mead, director of the Heritage Open Days video, as he tells you a little more of what went on behind the scenes...

© Nicola Graham - Jean and Nick Ezra talking about living in a historic house

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I'm 24, a history graduate and an aspiring film maker.

What interested you about making a promotional video for Heritage Open Days?

I’ve always been interested in history and stories, and Heritage Open Days provides both of those in abundance, so when the opportunity arose I took it with great zeal as it allowed me to explore these in a creative way.

How did you approach the film?

Cautiously! I tried to ask as many questions as was possible and let the participants tell their own story, which I felt could then direct me.

How did your approach develop on seeing the buildings and meeting those involved?

It didn't change dramatically... I had researched the buildings beforehand, so had an idea of what I might find. One major thing which I realised as the shooting continued was that the people were just as important as the places, which is unique to Heritage Open Days.

There is a lot going on in the film- voice overs, shifting between images, background music-it all seems very complex! Can you tell us about the process of making the film?

Overall it was quite an organic process changed as time went on. The actual shooting was a pretty short time, however it was quite intense and concentrated with a few long journeys back to back (as is shown in the animated map!).  We had two cameramen, so I shot cut-aways and Andrew (who also helped in the edit) shot most of the interviews, whilst Nicola from the Heritage Open Days team and I asked questions. The editing took the longest...four or five weeks I think! But I loved the slow process and the quite obsessive nature of it, trying to find the right story, narrative, shots and sound. We took about 4 and a half hours of footage, and probably could have made a feature length documentary with the footage that wasn’t used!

How did you end up interviewing Loyd Grossman? Did it feel any different working with a celebrity?

When I started editing the footage I felt we needed some kind of "voice of authority" that would answer the five w's - who, what, when, where and why. Luckily, there was English Heritage's link with The Heritage Alliance who kindly arranged the interview with their president Loyd Grossman for us. We sent out a brief outline of what the video was about and what the aim of the video was, and he was very positive about it all and quite quickly we were filming in his office in Mayfair! As you can imagine, he was very relaxed and professional. What struck me was that he had a genuine passion for heritage and public engagement with it. He knew his stuff. On a funny note, because there was a constant back-ground noise from the streets we couldn't take Loyd's voice-over recording in his office. We recorded him somewhere between the kitchen and the bathroom!

What was the highlight for you?

The highlight for me was meeting all of the participants and seeing their shared enthusiasm in Heritage Open Days which strengthened my own belief in the project and what I was making the video for. Amazing, inspiring people is all I need to say.

What's next?

More documentary filmmaking and my own projects; I plan to make a short film this summer about juggling!

If you have yet to see the film, visit our website.