Dunkirk Mill Museum received a Recovery Grant from us in Autumn 2020 to commission a film with social media support for effective promotion.
Funding awarded: £5400 – SWMD Recovery Funding supported by Art Fund
Key outputs: Promotional video with a team of filmmakers and to work with a social media practitioner to guide the museum with a strategic use of the film.
- Round 1 submitted: August 2020
- Round 2 revised application: 16th September
- Funding awarded: 25th September
- Project started: 9th October
- Project completed (and report submitted): 1st February 2021
Find out more about our Recovery Grants with Art Fund.
Q&A with Dunkirk Mill Museum
The below article is a Q&A with Jane Ford at Dunkirk Mill Museum (part of Stroudwater Textile Trust), who led the bid writing and the successful South West Museum Development Recovery Grant funded project for Dunkirk Mill.
What were your initial plans for the video and in looking back how did they change to what you have as a final piece?
Jane, Dunkirk Mill: Initially we were thinking that the video would be a virtual tour of the mill for people unable to visit but also to encourage visitors when that would again be possible. We expanded the vision (after our first grant meeting with South West Museum Development) to include more context and show a family interacting on site. Our vision was that it should be entertaining, not boring nor too long and we settled on something no more than 5 to 7 minutes and opening with an animation. The narrative developed as short episodes giving a flavour of our story and our volunteers’ personal involvement. This fitted well into the second part of the project, carrying through into social media.
Tell us about the additional support from South West Museum Development and if you think this helped the progression of your project?
The support from South West Museum Development was invaluable as we are a small organisation and all volunteers.
This was quite a complicated project for us and we were advised to put through a revised application in their second funding round. This was to clarify our desired outcomes and to work more strategically on a focused project: commissioning a video and obtaining additional external support for the promotion of the video online.
Throughout the project we met on Zoom meetings with South West Museum Development’s Digital Engagement Officer and Museum Development Officer who helped with the processes and any queries. The funding we were successful with required that we commissioned two project roles: Filmmaker and Social Media Consultant. We created a brief for this work and circulated them (with the help of South West Museum Development), had an introductory conversation with those selected and then contracted them for the work. Luckily South West Museum Development steered us through these administrative hurdles, which were new to us.
Any top tips for museums who will be commissioning an external filmmaker?
- Look at as many museum films as you can: this will give you a good idea as to what you want or more specifically what you don’t want. Share with your filmmaker those you like and why.
- Who will feature in your film: At one of the first meetings with South West Museum Development we were advised to consider who would appear in our video and to make sure that it was one of our key target audiences: in this case families.
- Keep notes: it sounds obvious but keeping track of the conversations and subsequent actions you or the commissioned party will take is so useful to stay on top of everything.
- Define responsibilities: our film company acted as Producer and Film-maker.
- Things to include in the contract: (that we didn’t fully appreciate before we started this process)
- Filming permissions and who will secure them
- A timeline: when the work will take place
- A clear budget (also how and when payments will be made),
- Deliverables: clear outputs and logistics related to this: how images will be transferred, and whether short clips are also required, subtitles and whether any static images are required (these are good to have for promotional work!)
What did the pre-filming planning and on-set filming look like?
We supplied a lot of background images, archive footage, photos, and quotes from the visitors’ book. Although very little of this appeared in the final cut it gave the film makers an all-round vision of our museum and formed a useful mood board for them to work from.
Because of lockdown there were no pre-filming meetings it was all done remotely, and the actually filming was done within a small window of time when all the participants were available and the weather was favourable. The filming on site was completed in one day, with half a day extra for the drone footage.
Did you come across any complications during the planning and filming? Any considerations which you think are essential when planning this type of work.
- Timings can be the most difficult thing with filming – prepare your timetable and ensure that it has some flexibility.
- When filming prepare your ‘actors’ for a lot of hanging about especially when there is more than one location.
- Thank goodness for mobile phones – have everyone’s number.
- Be flexible with your vision and work with the film makers on sequencing shots. E.g. film things that are geographically close together even if they are later in the story. Shooting the script is different from the story board – that’s in the editing (and we’ll leave that to the professionals!)
What did the post-production look like – did you feed into the editing process? How did they communicate and share the versions? How did you feed back?
The filmmaker sent us links to versions and revisions so we could feed back over zoom meetings.
We saw the film develop over 3 sessions and then one further zoom when the social media edits were agreed (this meeting included the social media consultant). The film makers also composed the music which was a bonus.
What additional benefits did the social media consultant bring to the process?
The use of websites and social media became increasingly important as the Covid restrictions took place and it was hard for us as an organisation that dealt with a very physical experience to re-imagine it online. The Social Media Consultant provided us with a general plan and a specific worksheet for our Trust to action the plan including advice on the clips for social and how to use these effectively. We were keen to build on a previously (South West Museum Development Small Grant: Big Improvement) funded project around Volunteering and launch a campaign using some of the short clips. This has resulted in a Volunteer Co-ordinator, and a young person who has carried on posting even though back at college. It has shown us that social media is a shop window that we should not ignore, our followers are growing and we also have three new volunteers embarking on training.
How do you think your museum improved as a result of the project?
It has made us look at different ways of doing things but still with the visitor experience at the forefront of our priorities. The film is a taster of what you might see, but is also a creative entity in its own right. We may be dealing with the Past, but we’re not stuck in it!
New blood is the lifeline of organisations and fostering new volunteers and their talents is something that we are pushing forward despite everything. Although we have had to change things in our visitor presentation, our visitors are giving positive feedback and even those that have been before are delighted with the ways we have re-imagined it. We are offering fabric swatches as part of the initial museum presentation but also as a free gift if people like to take them away.
I think it’s focussed us more on relationships, with the visitors, with volunteers and with an online community.
Watch the video
Watch the video produced by Dunkirk Mill on Youtube:
Find out more
This Q&A case study with Dunkirk Mill is available as downloadable case study PDF on our resources pages.
To accompany this case study, we worked jointly with James Stuart of Lightbox Film Co. to produce two resources to support museums with the film making process:
- The ‘Key stages of the filmmaking process’ flowchart, taking you from writing a brief through to distribution and review
- A guide to Commissioning a filmmaker for your museum video project, with tips on how to get your project started and what you should consider.
If you have any questions about funding or how we can support you, please get in touch.