GUN Dachaigh (Homeless) is a documentary being broadcast this evening on BBC ALBA at 2100.
It asks what’s it like to be homeless? To be living on the streets, in a hostel, or in temporary accommodation?
Made by Eyeline Media, the programme’s producer, Terry Wolsey, answers the questions…
Who commissioned the series?
MG ALBA, the Gaelic Media Service which works in partnership with the BBC to deliver BBC ALBA.
Explain the thinking behind the production’s ‘look and feel’
As an observational documentary, we want the audience to immerse themselves in the subject matter, to understand better the lives of the people we are featuring.
We want the programme to feel ‘immediate’ – a sense of here and now.
The programme gives viewers access to exceptional environments and experiences; its intention is to challenge existing perceptions.
The material was recorded between November and February and so the Winter weather was integral to the ‘look’.
Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?
The programme was created by a small team, with three key personnel – Jonny Craigmile and Pete Wolsey, both working as camera/editors, and myself as producer. Jonny is freelance and Pete and myself are staff at Eyeline Media.
What kit and software?
‘Gun Dachaigh’ was shot on a Sony PMW200. As a small camera, it is less ‘intimidating’ and it’s easy to use in confined spaces. It was edited on Final Cut Pro, version 7.
What have been the main production challenges?
Informed consent is paramount in a programme like this, especially when very personal stories are being shared, and so a lot of time was spent making it clear that a television audience would be viewing and ensuring the contributors were happy to participate.
We made a policy of not working with people while under the influence of drink or drugs, as this could affect consent.
Sound can be an issue when you are reacting to situations as they happen – taking the time to radio mic can lose the moment, so a good, on-camera mic is essential if not working a boom.
Working with people who have no permanent address can be challenging, attempts to re-connect for follow-on filming were not always successful.
However, volunteers and service-users at lunch clubs, hostels and emergency shelters were always very helpful in providing up-to-date information regarding the welfare of the participants.
What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?
It is such a privilege to record first-person testimony, when people speak from the heart about their life experiences, their hopes and their aspirations.
It is then our responsibility to represent them faithfully, to connect them with others’ stories in order to create a ‘bigger picture’.
I learned that if you go in with pre-conceptions they’ll most likely be challenged.
This production provided an opportunity to take on a big subject, to dismiss the clichés and drill down to the fine detail, allowing the viewer rare access into vulnerable lives.