We are looking for a filmmaker to work with us on our next short film celebrating the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and how they’ve inspired people in art, science, history and local pride for 160+ years
The big picture
The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and Geologic Illustrations are a famous Victorian highlight of south London. They have the highest ranking for any heritage asset, as they are Grade I listed, like Stonehenge, St Paul’s Cathedral, or the Houses of Parliament. They earned this listing through their importance in history, when British science set the stage for changes in how the world is understood. These were the first ever reconstructions of extinct animals, the first animals with the name ‘dinosaur’ and they launched the ‘Dino-mania’ that has enthralled us ever since. Never before had the wonders being discovered in the fossil record been brought to life for the public to marvel at. These were the first ‘edutainment’, built to inform and amaze, in Crystal Palace Park in 1854. They conveyed messages of deep time recorded in the geologic record, of unimaginable animals dominating past landscapes, of beauty and struggle among unknown gigantic inhabitants of lost worlds.
These 29 statues of extinct animals were placed in a landscape constructed to convey a sophisticated story of deep time, geological succession, lost worlds with alternative inhabitants besides humans…. all in a emotionally engaging and visually beautiful tableaux. The sculptures themselves tell stories of how animals work, how they interact and how they changed through time. It is a multi-leveled story, speaking in different ways to toddlers, kids, casual visitors and specialist enthusiasts from scientific and artistic backgrounds. It is cross-generational, and excites visitors from all backgrounds. We are the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, a registered charity are working to bring the many messages the Dinosaurs can teach to the public, to encourage everyone to feel that these are their dinosaurs, and to take on some of the excitement of discovery they represent.
This park area, unveiled in 1854, was essentially the first major natural history engagement with the public, and in that sense was the first built structure attempting to convey scientific ideas to all local people regardless of educational or class background. This was a turning point in the modern world. It was a cornerstone of the democratization of complex ideas. We have an entertaining and accurate 4-minute intro to them here on our website: http://cpdinosaurs.org/library/1442
The sculptures themselves have stories to tell not only about the science behind their biology and geologic setting, but also as historical objects needing conservation (restoration and maintenance). They are made with innovative combinations of concrete, brick, and metal which, after continuous outdoor exposure, has resulted in them needing extensive, urgent repair work (see images here http://cpdinosaurs.org/library/122 and other pages on our website). Historic England has designated them as ‘vulnerable’, and the World Monuments Fund has called them ‘at serious risk’. We made a 7-minute on historic sculpture conservation called ‘The Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction’, http://cpdinosaurs.org/library/1582
We are developing the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs as a model case for motivating public engagement not only with the objects and their original stories, but also for ongoing maintenance and an understanding of how historical object conservation works. Ultimately we will be launching a fundraising drive with the ambitious goal of raising over a million pounds to support conservation and engagement work. We have an active web and social media presence, and have two short films as well as considerable recent press coverage (links below).
The new film project
What we want is: A film/video installation that celebrates the dinosaurs, a distillation of how these crazy looking, unforgettable characters continue to inspire members of the public including artists, scientists, musicians and volunteers who dedicate large parts of their free time to safeguarding the dinosaur’s future.
What we don’t want is the film to be just worthy; we want it to be something that’s funny, inspirational, cool, surprising, maybe a song or short drama, a great promotional tool that introduces the dinosaurs and what they mean to potential funders, partners, schools, volunteers and in the park itself – a film that delights, informs and intrigues and is modular in form meaning we can use standalone sections on various digital platforms.
This film can be live action, animation or a combination of different media that works equally well on a laptop, a muted tablet or playing in a crowded café.
The duration should be no more than 10 minutes and we have a budget of £2,500.
If the brief seems wide, it’s because you are the experts in making content that gets noticed and we want your input about how we can cut through. There are a lot of films out there, quite a number about the dinosaurs, so we want to avoid creating another one that gets a lost, we want something that makes people sit up and watch.
Key points about the Dinosaurs
- Everybody loves the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – They are an unexpected sight in a south London park and stimulate people’s imaginations in many different ways from artists and musicians to dog walkers and palaeontologists, and of course kids and families.
- The dinosaurs speak to people of all ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds.
- The dinosaurs have amazing distinct personalities, visually playful and compelling with skilled sculpting accentuating their facial expressions and muscle features.
- Some of the dinosaurs have been newly restored, gleaming with brightly painted claws (which divides opinion), others are in a terrible crumbling state.
- Throughout history they have been customised, pimped and tweaked in ways that reflected the times; in the 1970s they were brightly painted, for example.
- The dinosaurs once thrilled and petrified Victorian London, and were the first manifestation of ‘dino-mania’ that continues unabated to this day. Even more significantly, they were the first-ever large public outreach project that endeavoured to engage the public with science. They are internationally important landmarks, and still great to see.
- These concrete behemoths need repair and maintenance to survive in the future, as nature seeks to erode and reclaim them. We made a short animated film ‘The Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction’ which demonstrates this more fully.
- To demonstrate an awareness of – and the importance of the statues to – a diverse local community
- To further emphasise community ownership of the dinosaurs and the associated conservation issues in an entertaining manner
- To show conservation work in action, and underscore the need for continued maintenance, with the message ‘Our Dinosaurs need Your Love and Attention!’
- To produce a quality film for further dissemination and promotion
Filming will need to incorporate the pending round of conservation works, scheduled to finish in late 2016.
The project should take approximately four months, with editing through the period of December 2016 – January 2017, with final delivery in January 2017. However there may be opportunities for earlier launch if the content supports this, for example at the Crystal Palace Film International Festival.
- Visitors and donors to the website and park (we hope to have it screened in the Park Info Centre)
- Local audiences – to support and create local stakeholders who will identify more strongly with the site after seeing the film
- Education and engagement projects such as local schools, visiting school groups, our collaboration with Emerald Ant, a street theatre and education company taking the story of the CP Dinos nationwide (emeraldant.co.uk)
- Makers of additional films – that fill in the stories for science and history of the Dinos, or that develop the Dinos for kids entertainment
- Prospective funders – outlining key engagement points as an introduction for future funding bids
- Bromley Council – as key project funder, major stakeholder and partner
Key skills we are looking for
- A portfolio of films that are ‘wow!’ – eye-catching, watchable and content-rich, especially on heritage, arts, people
- Demonstrating good value for money
- Demonstrating an ability to work to the identified timeline and meet the deadline
Crystal Palace Park and local areas Map: http://cpdinosaurs.org/visitthedinosaurs
- The finished film will be around 5-10 minutes in length, but length is negotiable
- Format for final delivery will be web files and DCP
- FCPD do not have VAT exemption. The fee pitched in response to this tender will be inclusive of VAT where applicable (please include in budget) if the successful company or individual is VAT registered.
- FCPD hold a small contingency for the project that is intended to help with distribution but may be allocated as necessary in agreement between FCPD and the successful company or individual
- FCPD has some historical images and many contemporary images that can be used. These are rights-free. We also have ongoing collaborations with a number of professional photographers who are likely to be happy to give their work for our use. There are a great many historical images available via English Heritage, but rights to use are prohibitively expensive. However, if needed, FCPD can approach English Heritage, as they are supportive of conservation work on the Dinosaurs. Volunteers have proposed providing original music as needed.
Our website: http://cpdinosaurs.org/
FCPD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CPdinos
FCPD Twitter: https://twitter.com/cpdinosaurs
The Lost Valley of London – 4.5 minutes of historically accurate and hilariously camp – intro to the CPDs
The Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction – 7 minutes of animated fun on historic sculpture conservation
Linking with a professional paper we have written on outreach and conservation (draft on request):
Brierley, L., E. Michel, A. Lewis, C. Aldhous & L. Olmstead. (in press) How the ‘Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction’ can help preserve the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. Proceedings of SPark: Conservation of Sculpture Parks 2015. Archetype Publishers, London.
Some recent media coverage:
- the BBC One Show – https://www.facebook.com/CPdinos/videos/965668546820102/
- BBC London News – https://www.facebook.com/CPdinos/videos/889686324418325/
- BBC Radio 4 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p035rn8g
- Robert Elms Show on BBC London Radio – http://cpdinosaurs.org/library/1049
- iKnowDino podcast, from 20’:40” http://iknowdino.com/know-dino-podcast-show-notes-rapator-episode-91/
Application and deadline
If you are interested in this project, send us a link to your showreel or any other relevant links and a bit of description about yourself. Do tell us if you’ve got any great ideas on how you might tackle this brief, even if your ideas are just at a brainstorming stage.
Send applications or questions to: email@example.com
Deadline Friday, 30 September