Richard McCormack, Class of 2009 | Red Bee Media’s BBC Four Doco

RedBeeMedia_logoI’m a graduate of 2009 and I work as a creative for Red Bee Media. It makes content, promos and designs branding for a range of clients. However Red Bee is probably most well known in the industry as being the BBC’s creative agency. You know the swimming hippos on BBC1? Red Bee did that. However this post isn’t so much about me; rather it’s about my creative director, his co-producer and a ten year project. It turned into a documentary ‘100 seconds to beat the world: The David Rudisha Story’, which is a co-production with Hill Ten film. The doco will be on-air 22 July at 10pm on BBC Four. Here’s the trail.

A decade ago Jim and Ed set out to make a documentary about Brother Colm, an enigmatic Irish teacher who has also coached many of Kenya’s most celebrated athletics including Wilson Kipketer, Matthew Birir and Peter Rono. Jim and Ed wanted to discover why a man without any professional training or athletic experience had managed to consistently develop gold medal winning athletes. However on 9th August 2012 the subject of the documentary changed, when David Rudisha ran the fastest 800 metres in history and took gold at the London Olympics. Jim and Edward looked back at their rushes and realised they had a range of footage and stills of David as a shy teenager developing into an athlete. So the documentary was refocused on David.

I came on board over the last year or so when Jim asked me to film an interview with Lord Seb Coe for the documentary. One bleak Tuesday morning, I met Jim outside Coe’s offices in Victoria armed with a Canon 5D, a Canon XF305 and a bed sheet for a backdrop (which Jim had spent thirty minutes the night before ironing). At this stage the documentary still hadn’t been picked up by any broadcasters, Jim and Ed where still investing their own money and it was still considered a passion project. I will always remember the moment that Lord Coe walked into his own boardroom to find a bed sheet gaffer tapped to the window and three nervous looking guys standing around the cameras. Fortunately Lord Coe was thoroughly pleasant and his media experience meant he gave a great interview. A year later we interviewed Steve Cram, again the bed sheet and gaffer tape made an appearance and by this point Jim and Ed had flown out to Kenya to shoot their final scenes with Rudisha and Brother Colm and the documentary was nearly complete. Then through determination and persistence, Jim and Ed managed to sell their passion project to the BBC, and it’s going to air on BBC Four next Tuesday.

I wanted to share this story because even though I’ve only been briefly involved, I’ve seen the passion and love that’s gone into this project and what’s kept it alive over a ten year process. Ten years ago neither Jim nor Ed were well connected in the world of television and the idea of selling a documentary to the BBC would have seemed a pipedream to them. But they started making this documentary anyway. They did it because they wanted to. They didn’t know that over ten years they would actually be filming a world record breaking athlete develop, they didn’t know they’d be in a position to sell their documentary, they didn’t know if it would even work.’100 seconds to beat the world: The David Rudisha story’ is 1-hour long on July 22nd from 10pm to 11pm. I’d thoroughly recommend you watch it on BBC Four, not only because it is a great story, but because you’ll also be watching a ten year passion project.

I’m writing this post because it’s encouraged me to stop talking myself out of starting projects. There’s always a handful of reasons not to start a project (money, time, is the story good enough?) but you never know what position you might be in by the time you finish the project, you never know what may happen, what you might learn and what opportunities may arise. So if you have a passion project that you’re nervous to start, I hope this might give you enough of a nudge to go out and shoot that first scene.

2 thoughts on “Richard McCormack, Class of 2009 | Red Bee Media’s BBC Four Doco

  1. Just watched – mesmerising, including the bedsheets! The final paragraph of your blog post should be framed Richard – thank you.

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