Ted Evans: Making the film for the Paralympics 2012 opening ceremony!

Posted on September 17, 2012



I was very fortunate to experience and be involved in the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony. I directed and wrote the Opening Ceremony film, ‘Look Up,’ with Bim Ajadi as my co-director and self shot a performance piece, ‘Bird Gherl.’

In the two months build up to the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, we had the pleasure of working with talented people such as, Mike Christie (Producer) the Christie HQ team, Craig Hastings  (DOP) and Mark Talbot-Butler (Editor) and  Ian Masterson (Composer). I learnt a great deal from each of these and throughly enjoyed working with them. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to work alongside them and to observe and learn from their experience and expertise.

Whilst making the films, I met so many fantastic people. It really was a wonderful experience and one I’ll cherish for a very long time.

You can see the films that accompany this blog on Ted’s Tumblr page here: http://tedevans.tumblr.com/paralympics2012

LOOK UP

In terms of how all this came about, it started at the beginning of this year when Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, asked Bim Ajadi and I to direct a film for the opening ceremony.  Jenny is a friend of mine and someone I’ve worked with often at Graeae Theatre Company, but I was stunned to have been offered a job of such magnitude and high profile. I felt absolutely honoured. Looking back, it still feels unreal.

Being honest, I didn’t know much about the Paralympics back in January 2012, but the films took me on such a personal and profound journey, that I now feel very close to the Paralympic Games.

We thought a great deal about what we wanted the ceremony film to show and say and before long, we gravitated towards the theme of  ’Journey.’ Everyone is on some kind of journey and we wanted to tell individual stories of people who would be journeying towards the 2012 Paralympics. We were fortunate enough to assemble an amazing cast and I’m really pleased and proud to have been able to tell their stories. They were all such inspirational people and for me, that’s what the Paralympics is about. It’s not just for disabled people, it’s for everyone.

I’ve had an incredible journey and I often think back to 2005 when the bid for the 2012 Games was won. I was a worried young father of a three year-old girl and I was desperately trying to move my family out of the rough estate we were living in. Jump eight years later and I’m watching the London Symphony Orchestra perform and record the soundtrack to our film. Unbelievable! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be involved in such an incredible project.

The finished film triggered Aerobility’s  flyover and opened the 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Watching it live in the stadium with my family was a very special moment and I will look back on it with pride for the rest of my life.

I have so many people to thank for this film, but no-one more than Jenny Sealey, whom I going to keep saying ‘Thank you’ to for a very very long time to come.

Jenny, the next pint is on me!

LOOK UP SHORT 

As well as the original ‘Look Up’ film, we produced stand alone shorts for Channel 4, which featured the individual stories from each cast member. This film is of Johnny Dawson-Ellis. It was a real honour to meet and film Johnny, who I think we will see a lot more of in the future. Unfortunately, we were forced to make the difficult to decision to not include Johnny in the 10 minute film, but this was simply due to timing and already including another performer’s story. His journey is incredibly powerful…

PROMO

I created this short promo for Channel 4, as this wonderful footage was heading for the cutting room floor. It features Johnny Dawson-Ellis who enters a large dark hanger where the circus performers of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony trained and rehearsed. This was featured on Channel 4, just before the Opening Ceremony programme.

BIRD GHERL

Whilst working for LOCOG on ‘Look Up,’ I documented private performances by the ceremony performers, which I later edited into a slow motion montage. I self shot, using the 5DMK3 on the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, on sticks, at the back of a large room. This footage was then used to create the ‘Bird Gherl’ film, sung by Birdy, and screened on the Paralympic stadium screens. I honestly think it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever filmed.

Ted Evans is a freelance director, editor and all-round filmmaker based in London. His best-known film is the award-winning The End. You can check out his Tumblr account by clicking here, and follow him on Twitter as @Ted1Evans.

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