On Thursday evening Alan Knight and myself headed off to Lanark for a private screening of his documentary which exposes the BBC’s corrupt reporting during the independence referendum. That evening would see the first screening of London Calling in front of an audience.
Thirty people from Yes Clydesdale had agreed to be the guinea pigs and were assembled in the Tollbooth on Lanark high street. How would they react to the seventy minute long film? Alan and I were equally nervous.
The audience hushed as the projector beamed onto the three meter length screen. The high-quality audio system kicked-in and the first line cut through the expectant silence, “The clue’s in the name … you know … the British Broadcasting Corporation …”
Would the audience find the seventy minute length too long? Would they show signs of restlessness? Would they laugh at the short humorous sections? Would they like it?
The documentary ended, the music kicked in and the credits rolled. The audience burst into spontaneous applause. Praise for the efforts of the production team was vocalised. Alan Knight who has spent over full year directing the project, regularly working into the small hours, smiled a huge smile of relief.
If the reaction of the thirty volunteers from Yes Clydesdale is anything to go by, then London Calling is set to take the Yes movement by storm. But, as pointed out by those same Yes Clydesdale members, that won’t define success.
Immediately following the documentary we took part in an unscheduled question and answer session. It was clear that the overwhelming issue was how best to ensure as many undecided or soft ‘No’ voters as possible get to see the film.
And it’s a key point. As many of the Yes Clydesdale members pointed out, it’s one thing showing the documentary to people who essentially need no convincing of the issues at the heart of the BBC’s coverage of the indyref. It’s quite another getting those people we need to convince of these issues to actually watch the film.
To their credit the Yes Clydesdale audience offered several possible solutions to this conundrum. One suggestion was making DVDs to deliver to homes. Another suggested creating short vignettes from key scenes from the documentary for easy viewing. Also mooted was promoting local screenings but not under the Yes Scotland banner.
The most striking thing about the discussion that followed was the desire and willingness of those Yes Clydesdale members to engage and offer assistance in promoting the film amongst the general public. That is going to be key to its success.
So where do we go from here? Well first up is the official Premiere which will be held in Glasgow next Thursday. Following that there are already discussions with interested groups from Dunfermline, Stirling and Edinburgh. Others are sure to follow.
Those who donated to the appeal which funded the documentary will be receiving their copies of the film soon. When you do receive it, please don’t upload it onto the web … just yet.
The provisional plan as we move forward is to restrict screening of the documentary to formal events. This will form the only viewing platform until the end of the year when, probably around December, the documentary will be uploaded to the internet for viewing on Vimeo.
By the time the documentary has been made available to view online it is hoped that a strategy will have been formulated that will allow local Yes groups to distribute the film in a manner that will ensure quality is maintained whilst allowing ordinary members of the public easy access.
One thing we do stress is that the documentary is not intended as a means of ‘arming’ local Yes groups in a way that might see an aggressive anti-BBC narrative being pushed. It’s absolutely vital that members of the public are invited to watch the film and thereafter to be allowed to form their own views as to the merit of what the documentary presents.
The object of the film is to encourage those who would believe the BBC is the epitome of objectivity and impartiality, to perhaps begin to question that view. The BBC was the logistical supply line of the No campaign throughout Indyref1 … and so it will be for Indyref2. By demonstrating how the BBC manipulated aspects of its coverage, we dampen its effectiveness in any future campaign.
One thing the production team do need though is professional equipment that will allow them to stage their own screening events. Yes Clydesdale has very generously offered to loan the production team their screening equipment.
However as we move forward the team needs to be able to call on its own equipment whenever required. It is hoped that local screenings, although completely free, will include a donation box to help fund the purchase of equipment and also help promote the film.
There are as yet no formal contact details for any Yes group wishing to arrange a screening event. For the time being anyone interested in hosting such an event can use the contact form on this site. We will then pass your request on to Alan and his team. Oh, and if you’re tweeting this, the hashtag is #BBCIndyrefDoc.
Anyone wishing to help in the meantime can make a donation to the director’s Paypal account by clicking the button below.