The most anticipated words in any TV Director’s ear must surely be ‘it’s a wrap’. It’s TV jargon for the completion of filming – and the end of all the planning, organising, worrying and panicking which make up the crazy world of television.
‘Robber of the Cruel Streets’ has been the biggest project the CTA has ever undertaken. Modest by BBC and ITV standards, but for our tiny little organisation it really stretched us to the limit. With a mix of documentary (superbly presented by Russell Boulter) and period drama, the story of George Muller has been a challenge to produce. Strangely enough, raising the funds was the easiest part of it as our three co-producers: ERF in Germany, Christian History Institute in the USA and UCB Television in the UK were nothing but enthusiastic right from the start.
But making it happen was another story – fraught with potential disaster!
We had over 50 adult ‘supporting artistes’ to find, and dress up in Victorian costume and make-up. 30 street children and orphans to organise, 8 other speaking parts to find actors for, not forgetting the two excellent artistes who played the young and old Muller – Adam Stone and Andy Harrison. We had to find appropriate period locations – inside and outside, and make them look convincing, and we also had to find a rat!
There was catering to arrange, some days for as many as 60 people. Transport and accommodation too for the cast and crew. Now normally, a TV company has a large staff to do all this – we had a staff of three! So we hired in extra people who were able to organise a lot of what was needed. For make-up, hair design and costume we hired top professionals, who are more accustomed to working on large budget productions such as Doctor Who, and feature films. Our technical crew were former colleagues of mine from my BBC days – so not much to worry about there.
But then there are always the unplanned elements which can wreck any production – sickness, accidents, and the weather (yes I admit – I am a hopeless pessimist). We filmed in April during the Easter holidays- not the most reliable month for weather – and it would play a crucial part in the success or otherwise of the filming. So with all these things to worry about – it was no surprise that there were many sleepless nights! But wait a minute – we were making a story about a man of faith – who took God at His word and trusted him. Could I not do the same? If this project was what God had guided us to do – surely He would make sure everything worked out? The eager provision of funds right at the start encouraged me to believe so.
So what happened? Were any of my pessimistic fears realised? I feel slightly ashamed but tremendously grateful to God, that they did not. In fact the filming could not have gone smoother. The weather was just right for each day (we needed it dull for some days, and sunny for others) – no one was ill, and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience immensely. So if you were one of the many ‘prayer warriors’ – thank you so much for your prayers – they have been wonderfully answered.
Director of Programmes