Making successful factual TV drama is fraught with difficulties. The stakes are even higher when programme-makers tackle real-life events – and no more so when they are as recent and raw as the ones depicted in the summer hit BBC One’s three-parter The Salisbury Poisonings.
RTS Northern Ireland
Little on TV cheers up audiences more than seeing animals brought back to health, so Waddell Media’s new series Work on the Wild Side is coming to screens at just the right time.
The 20 one-hour shows will be stripped across the daytime week on Channel 4 from mid-May. They follow vets and volunteers who have given up their jobs in the UK and moved to South Africa to rescue animals, and reintroduce them to the wild.
“It’s hard to believe it’s just five years since we announced our first Northern Ireland Programme Awards, which were set up to recognise the amazing content being produced in Northern Ireland,” said RTS Northern Ireland Chair Kieran Doherty.
The first event, “Sketchy business: making it in animation”, brought together a panel hosted by the university’s Dr Helen Haswell and featured three experts from Belfast animation house JAM Media: visual effects supervisor and director Niall Mooney; animator Jessica Patterson; and animation director Simon Kelleghan. They discussed how to get your foot in the door, as well as giving practical advice, including how best to structure a show reel.
Supervising art director Paul Ghirardani – who brought one of his Emmy Awards with him – was joined by artist Daniel Blackmore and draughtsman Owen Black at the session, which was jointly hosted by Belfast Design Week.
The trio gave presentations about their roles in the art department, before the session host, Film Hub NI project manager Hugh Odling-Smee, led a panel discussion and Q&A with the 80-strong audience.
Belfast’s Titanic Studios has been the main studio and post-production facility for all eight series of Game of Thrones.
Alleycats head of production Judy Wilson kicked off the season with the session, “How to manage a production”. Over almost five years at the indie, she has worked on many projects, including the BBC NI/ RTÉ documentary, How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story.
Ryan Kernaghan, the director of photography on revenge thriller Bad Day for the Cut, offered a crash course in camera and lightning techniques, explaining to the students in the audience how they should prepare for a shoot.
Yorkgate, which switched to digital projection five years ago, is a huge multiplex with 14 screens. The Centre saw a mix of Barco 2K-12C and Barco 4K-23B digital projectors, although as Brenden Leaden, IT manager at the cinema explained, the majority of films shown are still shot in 2K.
The Barco projectors are lamp-based with a xenon light source, suitable for screens up to 12 metres wide, and are based on Texas Instruments’ digital light processing cinema chip.
In the picturesque village of Greyabbey, on the shores of Strangford Lough, cast and crew assemble for the latest network drama to be shot in Northern Ireland. The Woman in White is a five-part adaptation of Wilkie Collins’s psychological thriller for BBC One. The period drama joins a BBC slate that in the past year has included The Fall, Line of Duty and My Mother and Other Strangers.
Projects would include “the full release of our digitised news archive to help all in understanding the past” and “capturing the true stories of that period of our history including the experiences of victims and survivors”.
The Director of BBC NI was giving the Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture, organised by RTS Northern Ireland, at the seventh annual Belfast Media Festival in mid-November.
“This is a time of opportunity for us in this new Charter period,” said Johnston, who warned of dangers ahead.