The Bald Explorer in 2014

My job, if you can call it that, with the Bald Explorer programmes, is to look back in history and follow a story from the past with the perspective of today. In other words, I am retracing the steps of people or things that have gone before us, whether they are the smugglers on the Romney Marshes or a Shropshire canal that has long since been abandoned. I also try to discover the historical highlights from small, perhaps lesser known, towns and villages in the British landscape.

The documentaries, which are broadcast on the Community Channel, a not-for-profit television station and freely available to most of the British population on various digital platforms, as well as on the internet website, Youtube, are completely self-funded. By that I mean, the production budget, such as it is, comes directly from my own pocket or the kind donations received from viewers and fans who appreciate the series. I am not, at time of writing anyway, in receipt of any payment for the programmes and they currently do not make any financial return.

Although these somewhat quirky, individual, and hopefully unique, programmes are not what could be strictly described as ‘expensive’ to produce (I visit places and present the material to camera), there are costs associated with each episode. Travel expenses, overnight stays, liability insurance, food and, occasionally, location fees can be listed as the necessary out-goings that I have to find. To date, I have been lucky, in that it has been possible to cajole friends, offspring or interested parties to give up their time for free and assist me with the making of the Bald Explorer episodes. The subjects covered and locations visited have, for the most part, been within easy reach of my home, or a friend’s home, and as a result, the programmes have been made possible to produce. However, as we move into the future, and with 2014 around the corner, I would like to broaden the scope and reach of the Bald Explorer documentaries. Travelling further afield and exploring places that are genuinely ‘new’ to me would, I am certain, add value, as well as, audience enjoyment, to the series. The problem is financing it all.

I have experimented with a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter, but the results, although optimistic, did not bring in enough pledges to make a series of several episodes in one go – the most cost-effective method of making television programmes. As a consequence, I am forced to continue making each episode one at a time and simply try to cover the basic expenses. Naturally, at this stage, I am more than happy to give up my free time to produce the episodes (they are very important to me) but, self-funding them as before, is no longer possible.

The question, therefore, is can the viewing public help and how can this be managed?

In an ideal world, it would be great to have a dedicated fund-raiser to take on the role of managing the fundraising process. I am not sure I can do this myself, for I know my limitations and although I maybe good at researching the shows, scripting the episodes, pre, shoot and post production processes, the marketing and money-finding is definitely not one my strengths. So, I would be curious to see if the readers of my website and enthusiastic fans of the show might like to help or could suggest ideas towards raising the necessary cash to make the future episodes of the Bald Explorer happen?

Before I leave you, as always, may I please draw your attention to the donations button on the top right hand side of the Bald Explorer website, where your generosity is much appreciated. Thank you.

The Welshpool Lock Open Day

As part of the research for the latest Bald Explorer episode I went to see how a lock was drained and new gates were inserted and other parts repaired. This is part of the winter stoppage programme. Each year, during the cold season when most traffic has died down, parts of the canals are closed off so that restoration and maintenance can be carried out. This is important work and is carried out by experienced workmen from the Canal and River Trust.

I popped along to the Welshpool Lock open day. I wanted to grab some shots for the next video production and learn a little about the Welsh side of the Canal and River Trust and the work they do. I cobbled a little video from some of the rushes to put up on the site so others might also find out a bit about the on going work.

Welshpool is in Powys, Wales and the navigation is the Montgomery Canal. It was great to see so many people interested in the drained lock and having the chance to descend down into the bottom. I was quite surprised to see the incredibly well persevered state of the brickwork. It is over 200 years old and still going strong.

The new Bald Explorer programme about the canals system in England and Wales will be on the Community Channel in January 2013.

Find out more about the Canal and Rivers Trust here: Website

Profile: Film Maker at Hopston Castle

I was delighted to discover as part of my research into my next project on the Welsh Marches that another heritage film maker has visited and made a very good documentary about Hopton Castle. This is one of the places I am currently seeking permission to film for the next episode.

Peter Ralley is a professional photographer and former headteacher. He obviously has a passion for history, like myself, and his website is full of wonderful videos about the past. Peter works mainly in the community and heritage sector which to me makes him stand out of the crowd because there are so few film makers out there passionately making features about our history.

What I also admire is the way he has the whole family involved in the production of his work and it is very similar to how I work with my daughter Georgie, (camera woman) and friends and colleagues assisting in the film making process.

Do check out his recent film at Hopton Castle if you get a chance and visit his website for further information:
Rali Studio