Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles?
This 20 minute film is a deeper dive into the backstory behind Adrienne and Adam Kennedy's play, Mom How Did You Meet The Beatles?
Adrienne Kennedy’s autobiographical play – told in the form of a one-act, near-monologue to her son Adam – is a mesmerising and disquieting tale of a young playwright trying to make her name in a new world.
This film was produced in partnership with the Chichester Festival Theatre as an additional digital insight for audiences. It screens after every performance and looks to shed greater light onto Adrienne Kennedy and her extraordinary story, as well as provide deeper insight as to the process behind the production itself.
Collating archive assets was no mean feat. Listening, watching and reading hours and hours of content, both about Adrienne Kennedy, and John Lennon's plays, we started to build a bigger and better picture of how this documentary would take shape.
Documentaries are tough videos to conquer. With no script to begin with, the narrative of the piece will evolve as more content comes to light. That content being videos and audio files that we can use to help us tell the wider story.
For this film in particular, the in-camera interviews we produced with Rakie Ayola, Diyan Zora and Jack Benjamin, along with the online interview we recorded with Adam Kennedy, really helped us to start to plan out our narrative. The archive assets, such as audio, video and photo, get added later, and help to embellish moments within the film, and add greater depth and detail throughout.
How do you choose what bits to include?
That's a good question. We always begin by breaking everything up into manageable bitesize chunks. If we're taking a 30 minute interview for example, our Assistant Editor will sit through all of the footage and audio, and cut out any mistakes and kafuffle. Whilst doing so, they'll also start cutting the video into sections based on what the speaker is saying. Each thought, sentence or paragraph will be clipped and labelled separately, with a description box explaining what that person said. This gets translated into a spreadsheet that the editor, director and producer have access to.
It might look something like this:
With these line items, we can then start to mark out and plan the narrative journey of the film on paper by re-ordering each line into a sensible order. This helps us to imagine how the finished article might feel. It's also a really important step in finding out where the gaps are, and what additional content we might need to capture or source to help transition between sections or reaffirm points within the existing structure.
Once we have this initial script format, it's taken into the edit suite where we start placing into a timeline to create an "assembly cut" - this is essentially a bare bones assembly of all the clips, placed in the right order, and without the complication of music, titles or any other assets. From here we can start to get a sense of how each comment flows and rolls into one another, and see if there are any gaps that need filling. Things always change, and sections always need shifting around to make sense of an answer and to best tell the story.
Two trailers we cut together that introduce Adam Kennedy and Rakie Ayola.
With a limited amount of time with each guest speaker, and the restrictions of filming in a busy rehearsal room, we have a few challenges to overcome on the day of interviews.
With no other options for locations, we had to make the rehearsal room work. After choosing a frame (finding the most photogenic angle in the room) we put down the camera, and quickly assembled our lighting rig. We opted for a simple but effective lighting plan, isolating the speaker in a pool of light, and using the depth of the room to create seperation between the background and the foreground. By doing so, the attention is brought closer to the screen and the interview feels all the more intimate as a result.
Here's what it looked like behind the camera.