#LowryatFringe Diary by Hannah Hiett: Getting there, Getting digital.


“I bet it’ll be raining in Edinburgh”, says I, as I get on the train at Piccadilly. “Don’t be so pessimistic!” “I’m not! It always rains through Fringe like it always rains at Glastonbury, it’s a thing!”

True to form, it was bucketing down as I stepped out at Edinburgh Waverley Station on Sunday night. Welcome to Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

After a couple of hours bustling around with keys, shopping, unpacking, frantic highlighting, emailing, assuring people I was alive, well and had made it to Edinburgh in one piece I was ready to go exploring!

The Festival is still warming up in the first few days of August and shows are getting run in – there’s a lot of free tickets floating about as everyone tries to get word of mouth going and lure the reviewers and audiences in.

A short stroll around the hub of the festival – through George and Bristo Squares where you’ll find Assembly, Underbelly, Gilded Balloon and whole bunch of smaller venues to boot – and I felt like I’d been offered a full day’s worth of shows in freebie preview tickets, ranging from the ridiculous (which will not be named) to the pretty intriguing, including Black Is The Colour of My Voice, which interested me partly for its name, and partly for its content as a musical biography of the amazing Nina Simone.

However, as a pro on a mission, my first stop had to be the Fringe Central – a hub for Arts Industry types and Fringe participants to meet, use a proper computer, have a quiet coffee and hide from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.

The Fringe Central is also where participants and industry people can attend a brilliant range of events, talks and professional development opportunities and I figured that was a good way to start my first morning at Fringe.

‘Are You Ready For Your Close-up?’ was first on my list, taking the form of an informal chat about making good digital content. Here I’ll share some of the hot tips I got from the people who are doing it right, one of whom was Artistic Director Ross MacKay of Tortoise in a Nutshell, the company who will be touring their award-winning show Feral to The Lowry Studio this Autumn.

  • DIY – If you can’t really budget for production company or a freelance film-maker to make you a super-slick promo film with hi-tech equipment, have a go yourselves with whatever equipment you have and edit it with whatever software you’ve got. Windows Movie-Maker and IMovie can produce decent results – though if you can stretch to Adobe Premiere that’s great too.
  • If you are making it yourself, keep it simple. A simple concept and a simple look will be far more effective and professional-looking than a busy, over-elaborate effort. Promos should be a maximum of 90 seconds ideally, nobody wants a trailer that’s “TLTW”.
  • Tell your story. Identify the key selling points of your show and make sure they come across in your film – be it mood, character, language and/or visual elements – bring what’s great about your show to the fore. For example; Feral is a puppet theatre show that is filmed and projected in a live relay onto a screen behind the set. Tortoise in nutshell wanted to focus on the visual and technical elements of the show that make it both unusual and captivating. You can see theirs here: http://vimeo.com/82555226
  • Remember your audience! If you’re making a film for promoters – you might want to think about giving a sense of scale and tech requirements, and you can afford to let it be a little longer and detailed than if it’s a trailer for the general public. Think about what the audiences want (clue: it’s probably not a lengthy interview with the director about the intricacies of the development process – that can be a separate video for people who are really invested in your company.)

Well, those are my top 5 tips at making a killer promo video yourself, gleaned from the panel of experts provided by Fringe Central.

I’ll be catching up with Tortoise in a Nutshell Team next week, as well as seeing the show in order to give you a sneak preview of what to expect when Feral hits The Lowry Studio on Sat 4 October. http://www.thelowry.com/event/feral

Keep up to date with The Lowry at Fringe news by searching Twitter for #LowryatFringe as I will be tweeting and blogging away up here for the whole festival!


Hannah Hiett

P.S. The weather has cheered up since arrival (phew!)