This is how we made Yung Filly’s Celeb Lock-In (formerly know as Lockdown Showdown)
While most people who work in film and TV were sitting twiddling their thumbs for a large part of Spring 2020, I was lucky enough to be asked by BBC Three to help them develop and direct a new lockdown-inspired, pandemic-certified, gameshow format.
Inspired heavily by the incessant zoom quizzes that were rampaging up and down the British isles every Friday evening — our show was set to follow a similar format. As we were unable to actually film anything in person with our contestants, the key creative challenge was how do we decorate and dress up user shot footage in a way that’s high quality, engaging, and worthy of being shown on TV?
To thicken the broth, each episode featured a different set of celebrity guests, who also Zoomed in from the comfort of their own sofas. Across the three episodes and pilot we hosted: Love Island 2019’s Jordan, Michael and Chris, Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, Eastenders’ Maisie Smith and football legend Wayne Bridge – alongside his wife Frankie from The Saturdays.
Each episode was hosted by the enigmatic Yung Filly, who chaired the assembly from a slightly more bespoke studio space constructed for the show.
The show is available on BBC iPlayer until August 2021, and I also made a compilation of some of the best moments here:
Technically — the show was basically just a big zoom call, but recorded onto proper cameras and then synced up and reconstructed again afterwards. At the studio end we were able to light everything and use top quality broadcast equipment, but for the contributors we had to deliver them a DSLR and simple lighting kit to assemble themselves. Here are a couple of photos of the Zoom call during the gameplay:
Despite the obviously clunkiness of any online video call, the recording flowed remarkably smoothly — all masterminded by James Bonnar, our visionary technical director who managed to coordinate all the video streams into the right place.
We built our set to look like Filly had all the contributors stacked up on old TV screens in front of him, we wanted a DIY feel — like he’d built it all in his own shed. In reality there was only one active screen and all the others were added in post.
When it came to being on set we had to obey strict social distancing guidelines — in essence this basically meant I had to do everything myself… as I was the only one allowed with Filly while we recorded, no sound recordist, DP or runners in sight. Although there wasn’t actually that much to do other than look after the two static cameras, it still seemed a little daunting at first.
Here’s a timelapse of our set build:
and some more BTS:
Once the show was recorded it was onto the post production. Most of my role as the director was with regards to the visual aspects of the show. Like I said at the start, we really didn’t want this to feel like a zoom call.
I wanted the show to have a slightly tacky neon vibe and spent a long time establishing the aesthetic style. There ended up being a lot of graphic design involved as every shot of Filly in the studio required a greenscreen background replacement. We also did a lot of treatment on the introductory segments for the teams, as the the footage they supplied was pretty much all shot on their phones and needed a lot of dressing to make it usable.
We also tried to make the camera techniques as contemporary and fresh as possible; I personally love using 360 cameras wherever I can. So we did — in the some of the introductions, and also during the ‘fetch the answer’ round — where the contribs had to rush around their houses and collect various artefacts.
One thing that transpired from this was that it’s very hard to coordinate people who don’t know the menu structure of a GoPro MAX camera via zoom, and unfortunately, quite a few teams ended up providing us with either a timelapse or a single still, rather than a full video clip of their antics.
The other new toy I got to flex was my FPV drone setup, I managed to convince production that it was totally safe and sensible to fly around the studio with it, and record one of the pre-title segments to the drone…. Thankfully, I pulled it off collision free.
The gameplay itself was a mixture of quizzes and challenges, often themed around our celebrity guests. We had a dedicated producer conjuring up a multitude of questions, and got the teams to pre-record variety of dances and lip-syncs for us. As this was my first gameshow experience I was surprised by how much we actually asked the teams, considerably more than what went into the final edit. We even had a couple of spare rounds up our sleeves too in case something fell totally flat, which it did more than once…
Hopefully this has been interesting insight — i’ll leave you with the kindly 3-star review given by The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson ‘This is fluff, but energetic, enthusiastic fluff.’
Sounds about right to me.
Have a watch, see what you think, and drop me a message if you’d like to know more.