I joined the English Bridge Union 10 months ago and in that time I have worked on many interesting projects. However, after eight months of organisation and preparation, we put together my most interesting project so far – a bridge television pilot! As such, I thought this blog would be a good opportunity to let you have a peek into the fascinating world of making a television programme...
It all started with an email from one of our members, Matthew Baylis who proposed an idea of how bridge could be introduced to TV in October. My role at the EBU is to promote bridge in whatever way that I can and as such, Matthew and I met and worked on creating a structure for a possible television programme. Matthew's idea was to have a fun and entertaining show with real bridge players and our target audience would be - everyone. At the same time it would be educational, so that people could come into it whenever they liked and still follow the game - whether they were new to bridge or not.
Our thoughts were finalised in March 2008 and we put together a pre-pilot, so that we could see how it would work. We also invited two experts to come along – Andrew Robson and Susan Stockdale to give us their thoughts. It was a great success and we understood immediately what would work and what wouldn’t work – which was extremely important before any money was spent!
Over the following weeks a production team was put together and a studio was booked. By 2 May our team totalled 15 –me; Caz Stuart (our director and producer); John-Martin White (our director of photography and camera man); Amanda Turner (make-up artist); Matthew Baylis (presenter); Andrew Robson (expert); and nine camera/sound crew. We also invited 15 bridge players from London and Aylesbury to take part.
Preparation started at 8am, as the team had to make sure that the right lighting and camera angles would be created for our pilot. We also wanted to try and give it the feel of an actual bridge club. The idea for the studio was to have a main table playing the game, and two bridge tables behind playing bridge – these would be the future players (if it was a series). Meanwhile, our presenter and expert were sat in the "television gallery" watching the games live in another room. This meant that Andrew and Matthew could comment throughout and the commentary could be used over the play with graphics when required.
In the main studio it was decided that there would be three bridge games in total and four players were chosen. A camera was directed on each player so that we could gauge their reactions when they lost/won etc. Importantly the show is about the average bridge player and so interestingly each of the three games failed to go the way Andrew expected – but this of course made even greater TV! Each part of the show was linked by Matthew Baylis (for example at a commercial break, we have a teaser question – answer after the break etc). The end of the show was concluded by Matthew and Andrew who award prizes.
All in all a great day was had by all and the filming moved very swiftly. Our director and team were all absolutely professional and extraordinary.
Our team has now started on the post production and according to our director, "it looks great, the studio shots are lovely." Music and graphics are to be added next and I’ll be visiting the team to view the rough cut and discuss our next steps asap. A good friend Matthew Sharrock has worked on producing our theme music too.
After the post production work is completed, we will have a slick and well oiled pilot ready to be sent to various production companies.
Thank you to Matthew Baylis, Andrew Robson, Caz Stuart, John-Martin White, the crew and all our players:Tessa Baker, Ian Payn, Shelia Rogers, Nalin Shah, Dilip Mithani, Taruna Mithani, Chris Elliott, Kathie Gill, Jayesh Shah, Surendra Mehta, Mahendra Kothary, Ashwin Sheth, Satish Parekh and Mo Sayer. Thanks also to Matthew Sharrock who has worked on our music.
Fingers crossed for the next stage. More updates soon.