Filming an Art Installation for Blue Monday

by Laura Binnie

17th January 2022

Every year, the third Monday of January (i.e today) is dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, as supposedly it's the most depressing day of the year.

Last year, Glass Bullet Media was commissioned to produce two films for Silverburn Park’s Blue Monday lantern festival. The art installation was created to raise funds for their Mill Regeneration Project and to help to shine a light on mental health issues.

The films were shot and edited in just 48hrs to meet a very tight deadline and premiered on Facebook to mark Blue Monday.

Lantern art installation at Silverburn Park

Where Heritage Meets Art

Silverburn Park was once the site of a flax mill and is the former estate of The Russell family who were owners of the Tullis Russell papermaking business in Fife. In 1973, the Russell family gifted the houses and grounds to Leven Town Council, but also stipulated through the National Trust for Scotland that it "should remain forever as a quiet area used for the benefit of the public and the people of Leven for nature trails, quiet parkland and organised camping".

The Fife Employment Action Trust (who now own the park and mill) are making positive steps in promoting outdoor work as a way to improve mental health. They commissioned the lantern installation which linked in with Blue Monday and fitted with the ethos of the park’s heritage.

The concept for the lantern installation was created by participatory artist Hannah Ayre. As Leven was once the centre of Flax production, this concept formed the idea of the art installation, with the lantern shapes taking inspiraton from the shape of the flax seed and the flax flower. Event lighting company 21cc installed the many thousands of lights which illuminated the lanterns.

The Leven community were involved from their homes during lockdown, a very welcome arts project for the many who had been isolating indoors during the pandemic.

Wild birds at Silverburn Park in Fife
Fife coastline in Leven with turbines
Lantern Journeys artist Hannah Ayre
Lantern Journeys flax seed inspiration

Producing a Video for the Installation

Lockdown restrictions had caused the cancellation of public access to the gardens at Silverburn Park in Leven and the only way to deliver a lantern festival was through an online event. To bring a more live feel to the event, the video was filmed and edited within 48hrs then broadcast on Facebook for Blue Monday. The advantage of this, rather than ‘live-streaming' was that a documentary could be shot showing the logistics of a big event and capturing the set-up of elements such as the lanterns and theatre lights being positioned around the gardens. Being so close to the coast meant we also filmed great footage of the beach. There was also the need to interview the organisers and participants to get a flavour of the location, the ambition of Silverburn Park and the importance of ‘Blue Monday’ and peoples' struggles with mental health issues during Covid.

Of course filming during a pandemic brought with it many challenges. Like many businesses across the UK, Glass Bullet Media had to postpone many shoots in 2020 and 2021, but we were still able to work for essential services like charities (while sticking to the Covid regulations of course). During filming we had to keep our distance from the participants and this made filming interviews quite challenging. Normally we mic up the interviewees but we had to ask them to do this themselves, santising the equipment after each interview.

We carried out the daylight filming over two days but as it was January the light was fading from mid-afternoon. The most important and critical filming was still to come - the 4hrs of shooting in total darkness to film the switch-on of the lights, the viewing by selected guests and the all important aerial drone filming.

We had a 4-person evening crew armed with 4K cameras, steadicams and a drone. Total darkness fell, the lanterns lit up beautifully, the drone took off and our cameras captured the magic.

Within an hour of the shoot wrapping, the footage was in the hands of our editor and she worked her own special magic. With the event taking place just days before Blue Monday, we were editing to very tight deadlines. The edit had to be ready on the Sunday night in time for the Monday launch, so this meant sifting through 2 days of footage from the set up to the actual switching on of lights. Glass Bullet Media have worked to very tight deadlines in the past, but an online countdown to the Facebook premiere made this deadline even more urgent. 24hrs later the public was able to view the whole festival online and the many people who could not attend were able to view and and reflect on an important event in the Fife calendar, which without modern technology would have been cancelled.

Lantern Journeys Fife

A Quote from our Client

""Glass Bullet came on board with a community art installation project at the eleventh hour, when new pandemic restrictions meant we couldn’t have visitors to site. They were so helpful and professional, working under difficult circumstances.
With relatively little lead time Laura was able to absorb the messages that we wanted to convey and produced two films that captured the event perfectly.
The quality of what Glass Bullet produced is reflected in the over 10,000 views we had in the first week and the hundreds of positive comments on social media. Many of those comments are from people in the community who contributed to the project and who, through viewing and sharing the films, feel immense pride in what has been achieved collectively.
Thank you to Graeme, Laura and the whole Glass Bullet team for capturing the Lantern Journeys experience and enabling us to share this with others."
Siân Loftus
Heritage Consultant

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