Monday, 25 August 2008

QI Recordings: Behind the Scenes

Hi there. As some of you already know I’m a student of media and hoping to work in London one day. Through a series of delightful coincidences I was offered the chance to come down and have a look at how QI is made from a floor-managers perspective.

I arrived at the production office at precisely 12pm. After being given a special pass I was shown through the maze of corridors leading to the QI offices (and almost knocking poor Paul O’ Grady off his feet for which I do apologize). Having arrived in the office I was greeted by several members of the team and then it was down to business. I was shown the script and how the fact cards are produced.

One of QI's researchers (known as Flash to members of the QI forums) then led me through to have a look at the studio, which looked great. After being given a radio microphone I assisted the team with some sound effects that they were making (You’ll have to wait for the 11th recording to air to find out what they were). The whole process was fun, if a little messy. Then it was time for the first rehearsal . 5 stand-ins sit on set and read through the script as if it was Stephen and the guests themselves. This allows the video (VT) operators time to check their audio and visual effects and make sure they all appear on screen properly.

After a quick lunch it was time for the second rehearsal with Stephen. This is the time that Stephen Fry has to familiarize himself with the questions when the entire script is read through again.

The third rehearsal involves Stephen and the 4 guests, however it is NOT the same script that will be used when the audience are in. These are just a few teaser questions to warm the guests up and to allow the wardrobe staff to select shirts for them. It was made very clear to me that it is essential that the clothes don’t clash with the set or make the guest look too “washed-out”.

Dinner was provided for all of us after the fourth rehearsal, Fresh vegetable kebabs, hot rice and a delicious raspberry tart for afters. I was able to have a quick chat with the guests whilst we ate, and everyone was quite looking forward to the show. The guests then vanished off to their dressing rooms for make-up, whilst I nipped outside to see a few forum friends. I was then called back in to help with the set before the audience came in.

Despite what the audience saw on the night, a floor manager is a very busy person during the day. My main tasks when the audience were seated was placing the guests notepads up on set and making sure that the space behind set was free of obstacles. Then the show begins. When Stephen's microphone broke halfway through the show we had to call up for some sound engineers, they remedied the problem swiftly. By now I knew the script off by heart, having read it and watched it being rehearsed so many times in the seven hours before the show. However, the recording itself is an entirely different entity. There is such a huge transformation from a script of questions to what you see on the show.

All in all, I really enjoyed my time working as a crew member. The team have gave me priceless experience that will help me through my HND and I must wish a massive thank you to all of them.



Anonymous said...

You obviously had a great time! Hope it has helped with yr HND.

But what's all this about a script? I thought the show was unscripted! Maybe a quick gander at the questions just before the start, that's fair enough. But working to a script? That's a real disappointment.

QI Fanatic said...

The script for the show only includes anything that Stephen reads. That means what goes on the Autocue and his cards. There is no direction for the guests as to what they should say and everything they do is improvised. They certainly don't know the answers before they walk on. Stephen and the production crew however, need practice to give you the show that you see. Not that they get much, it's all done in the afternoon before the recording.