Glastonbury: I film behind the scenes

Thursday 23 June 2011, 15:42

Andy Dunn Andy Dunn

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For the past eight years I've had the pleasure and, sometimes daunting task of working in the old-school titled BBC 'Film Unit' at the Glastonbury Festival.

Our job is to venture outside the protective confines of the BBC's compound to film short items documenting the plethora of weird and wonderful non-musical happenings around the site.

Plus I film and direct some behind-the-scenes pieces with the musicians and performers at the festival. This year, the main draw of course is the chance to see acts like U2, Coldplay and Beyonce to name but a few.

But we hope that in between the world-class acts, you'll also catch our little films and get to experience some of the other unique attractions that make Glastonbury the greatest festival in the world.

DJ Tim Westwood and Andy Dunn at Glastonbury

DJ Tim Westwood and Andy Dunn at Glastonbury

Over the years this has included us working with children, animals, plenty of hippies and the odd rock legend.

Like everything in TV production, much has changed over time in how we work to achieve this. But what hasn't changed is this great festival's ability to surprise us.

My very first assignment in 2003 was to greet glam rockers, The Darkness to film their ostentatious arrival by helicopter for their opening slot on the Pyramid stage. It had been a late night of meticulous logistical planning and an early start to make sure we were in position at the helipad in good time.

The first thing you learn about filming at Glastonbury is that travelling between locations can take a very long time.

All was well, and a ripple of excitement passed through the crew as we caught sight of the helicopter approaching.

The camera rolled and I braced myself for the rush of rotor blades... only to watch the chopper pass over our heads and disappear over a tree line, finally landing three fields away on Glastonbury's OTHER helipad - how many dairy farms have TWO helipads?

Needless to say, a chase ensued and with a minor revision of the shooting plan, the feature survived and the whole episode seemed to fit the Spinal Tap-esque order of the day.

Dusk at Glastonbury

Each year we like to show the nocturnal activity at Glastonbury which often exhibits a more alternative, anti-establishment vibe than in daylight hours. (For anti-establishment read 'It's fun to throw clods of mud at the BBC people!')

Imagine an enormous nightclub in the edgy part of a big city - New York, say, with its own culture of debauched excess and inhabited by hedonists and miscreants of every order.

Well that's exactly what people are in the market for after dark at Glastonbury.

This aspect is an important part of why people love the festival and we do our best to reflect it. I have had my eyes opened and my mind broadened in these areas over the years... all in the course of duty.

My personal highlights range from the sublime; spending time with the Worthy Farm staff while reporting on the wildlife and daily milking which continues throughout the festival, to the ridiculous; directing an episode of Pimp My Tractor with hip hop DJ Tim 'Big Dawg' Westwood.

There is always good television where two worlds collide.

Andy Dunn is a producer/director for BBC TV Music Entertainment.

For all the BBC's Glastonbury coverage on TV and radio, please see the upcoming episodes page.

On the BBC Music blog, Mark Cooper, BBC creative head of music entertainment, has written about the logistics of covering all of Glastonbury.

Andy Parfitt, controller of Radio 1, 1Xtra, Popular Music and Asian Network, has written about staffing numbers at Glastonbury on the About The BBC blog.

You can watch a different artist from Glastonbury every day via the Red Button until Friday, 1 July.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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