My new music video to “Buckle Up” is now live and has received just over 1000 views in less than a week. Thank you very much for watching and sharing it. I thought you might be interested to know a little more about what actually happened on the day:
First stop BBC TELEVISION Centre
The night before the shoot my friend suggested I buy some flowers to give to the receptionist to serve as a pre-apology / thank you, which I thought was a great idea. I strolled into the BBC reception area with my guitar already on my shoulder and the flowers in hand and smiled as I walked up to the receptionist. She returned my smile and said in a welcoming voice: “Are you going to play us a song?”
This is going to be a lot easier than expected, I thought! I placed the flowers on her desk and as I strummed the first chord I could see the poor woman’s face drop and say: “Oh, you actually are!”
The people around waiting for meetings looked slightly bewildered and amused. Amongst them sat producer Ed Dark, filming inconspicuously on his smart phone. Just as I hit the chorus, the Director, Ismar Badzic followed into the reception area with the less inconspicuous camera… Security was called, and all I heard was: “Sorry, you really can’t film in here”.
I stopped playing as the flustered receptionist started ushering us out. “This is a place of business”, she explained. “What do you think I’m doing?” I thought…
However, she was strangely apologetic and although I could tell she was nervous, she seemed to regret that she had been so harsh – perhaps after the shock had worn off, she noticed that what we were doing was harmless and actually quite a good idea… Bizarrely, she apologised, but told me to take the flowers back with me explaining that she couldn’t accept anything over the counter. We parted on good terms and as I heard from the very sneaky Mr. Dark, who had remained in reception for a while longer, she said some very nice things about me and about our idea after I had left. So, mission accomplished.
AND Then we very nearly REALLY got into trouble…
The second stop was not originally part of our agenda – but as the BBC Broadcasting and administration house is right by the TV Centre, we thought we’d give it a go. Once again, our sneaky producer (and the only one looking like he might actually have a meeting) went in first, this time with the Director Ismar + camera and sat down in the reception area. I followed with the guitar at the ready. There was a small, awkward wait before reception was clear and I approached the male receptionist, asking whether I can play him a song and assuring him straight away that it will only take a second. For a moment he looked perplexed and said: “How did you know?” Who knows, maybe it was actually his Birthday and he thought this was a planned serenade… I started to play the song, slightly less forceful than in the TV centre. The entire room felt strangely robotic though, as nobody dared to make any eye contact or even acknowledge my presence. Only one of the security men manning the staff entrance nodded along to the beat and smiled. I didn’t even notice the receptionist calling security, they were extremely sneaky about it – nobody had asked me to stop, or leave or asked me what I was doing. A large security man marched up to me and came threateningly close: “What are you doing?”
“Playing a song!” I replied. My plan was to be as friendly and innocent as possible – the security man looked utterly dumbstruck and appeared to be lost for words. “Would you like me to stop?” I asked? “Yes” – he monotoned (not a word, but it so should be!).
I stretched out my hand and shook his before exiting swiftly, closely following by Ed and then by cameraman Tom. It wasn’t until we’d gone around the corner that I realised that Ismar was not with us. Ed turned on his feet and marched back into the building. The next 10 minutes seemed to stretch until finally, I saw the two of them walking towards us: “Walk”, Ed instructed and we did.
Ismar had been held back by the security man and questioned as to why we were filming, what we were doing and had threatened to call the police. He’d tried to explain that we had acted in innocence and had no mal-intentions. They’d negotiated their way out, but were forced to delete the footage we had filmed. Luckily, we were only forced to delete the footage of that specific building and not the TV centre.
I’m aware that filming inside the BBC is technically not permitted. However, we were also forced to delete the footage filmed outside of the premises (some nice shots of me walking up to the BBC, looking around, etc). What struck me most was the complete lack of humour and the high level of suspicion and paranoia – after all, I was playing music, not walking in with a gun…
We took a few minutes to regroup and then made our way to central London. Next stop: BBC Radio 1
OMG – it’s HUGH JACKMAN!
As we approached BBC Radio 1, we saw a swarm of paparazzi crowding around the very small reception area. Nope, they weren’t waiting for us (although we did take the opportunity and played them a little ditty outside of the BBC as well). The scattered and moved in an antelope-esque fashion as two figures emerged from the BBC on little bicycles. I heard the director take up his camera saying: “Oh my god – it’s Hugh Jackman!!”, followed by me asking: “Who?”
I’m afraid that even after the Director and Producer answered in unison: “Wolverine!”, I was still clueless as to what the fuss was all about… However, Mr. Jackman made a nice little guest appearance in my music video, might be good for SEO!
BBC Radio 2 – Finally!
There was just too much A-list commotion at Radio 1, so we decided to walk around the corner to Western house (home of BBC Radio 2 and BBC radio 6) instead. The team had attached a little spy cam to my guitar case, which I carried inside and placed in front of reception. They were by far the most welcoming receptionists and were happy for me to play the whole song for them. Although it was a slightly awkward serenade due to the fact that the reception area is rather small, everybody was amused by it, which was more or less, the desired outcome. One of the producers even walked passed, smiled and said: “Good Luck!”, as he hurried to the elevator.
ABOLUTE RADIO (I don’t like him)
The last destination (after playing around for a bit on Carnaby Street and Oxford Circus) was Absolute Radio. With spy camera and guitar, I strolled into the reception area once again and started playing after a short introduction. Once we established that I wasn’t performing with the hope of getting on the radio (“We have no decision power, you know”), they were happy to listen to me play and seemed to welcome the change of routine. It wasn’t until one of the receptionists spotted the camera man filming through the entrance that suspicion took over… pointing at him he said to his colleague: “I don’t like him” and security was called. Even so, they remained polite and friendly and the second receptionist even apologised to me: “I’m really sorry, you’re very good!”
And so we said our good byes and left Absolute radio.
I do love playing at the Kasbah in Coventry – the promoters are so friendly and so hospitable that it’s always more than a pleasure to travel to Coventry and back. They kindly let us film the second half of the music video in their fantastic venue. We were their from about 4pm to 9pm and then made our way back in London (luxuriously by car as I’m usually on the bus or train). Whether escape-routing in London, driving in the car or filming in Coventry, I had a good time with the Button Up production team that day and would work with them again anytime. I was at home around midnight and could look back on an eventful and incredibly productive day. It had taken a whole lot of nerve, a bouquet of flowers, a tank full of petrol and a simpatico team to shoot the music video to “Buckle Up”.
And this is what’s on my mind now..
Undeterred by fact that an official door to the higher echelons of the BBC would remain shut, I still felt that an innocent and well-intentioned approach might weaken some resistance. The point was not to audition; it was to do something out of the ordinary and to put smiles onto people’s faces. The problems we incurred were not a result of me performing, it was the camera that caused concern. By contrast, out on the streets of London it was clearly the cameras that drew people in. It seems bizarre that we as individuals are subject to constant surveillance (I can’t open my front door and walk to the tube station without being filmed) yet as soon as an individual points the camera back at the establishment, it panics and calls security. Who do I call? It’s even more ironic as the BBC is a public institution. It’s still beyond me as to why the footage taken outside the BBC had to be deleted. I acknowledge that I’m using their backdrop to advertise myself, but then what is the difference in copyright terms between this and a tourist taking a picture outside the houses of parliament?
I did manage to put smiles on a couple of people’s faces that day. I even managed to get a London cab driver to part with money. I do hope you continue to enjoy watching the result of this rather turbulent day and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.