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Calling all filmmakers! Webseries commissioning by The Mirror Online

Community Channel has been working with The Mirror Online on an exciting project: A 6 x 5 minutes webseries that showcases the lives and stories of the towns and people The Mirror Online visited in their Wigan Pier Project, retracing George Orwell’s famous journey through northern industrial England on the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Road To Wigan Pier. For their work so far visit and @wiganpier2017.

Interested? Read the project description from The Mirrror Online and all the details to enter below :


The project

The five main films will be from the five stops on the route where Orwell spent the most time – Wigan itself, Manchester, Barnsley (or possibly Birmingham), Stoke-on-Trent, and Liverpool. A sixth film will be people (including celebrities) reading from the text in all the locations along the route. All films should have a duration of around five minutes or less.


Each stop is themed around the text and the place itself, and particular issues like housing, immigration, low pay, collapse of the welfare state, cuts and austerity, as well as examples of people fighting back.


These films can blend interviews with archive films and stills, showing the changes to each place, along with readings from the book and a well-known narrator who provides an overarching guiding voice across all the films.


Like Orwell, for the wider project, we are making 14 stops in total – and creating a range of editorial and multi-media content in each that explores themes of poverty, community and unseen or hidden parts of everyday life.


We would like these films to be seen far and wide, and make our readers and viewers think about the social fabric of contemporary Britain, and what, if any, progress has been made these last 80 years.



Our contributors

Our characters have unique life stories, having lived through dramatic, turbulent events and tough times. Their stories testify to their lives and locations, and we would expect contributors to feel empowered by their contributions.


We would also look at getting a recognisable ‘celebrity’ voice over from Wigan/north-west England.


The structure

Each film introduces the town, its story and the story of its contributors, namely:

  1. Opening slate – the visual will show a hand-written map by Orwell himself, and our point on it.
  2. Title card – e.g. Manchester
  3. Local person reading a few relevant paragraphs from Road to Wigan Pier – eg publican reads bit about pubs in Manchester
  4. Tease of the most emotionally-powerful, shocking moment in the film – either interviewee or footage, other establishing shots/archive and/or VO
  5. First situation/contributors – interviews, b-roll etc
  6. Transition sequence – e.g. presenter link, car journeys, vox pops, VO
  7. Second situation/contributors
  8. Outro – wrap-up/book readings/VO etc
  9. Credits/end card


Films will have intro slates/end cards (the latter with Mirror and project branding) to make it clear they are part of a series.


The films


1. Manchester


A. We will work with a group of working class young people - asking them to reflect on the Road to Wigan Pier, visiting the places Orwell went to with them. This would include visiting a family living in one of the addresses he stayed in 80 years ago.


B. We will also visit Wood Street Mission, which was handing out help then and now in the form of emergency food, books and school uniforms. And a group of mums on a large estate handing out food in the school holidays to children who otherwise wouldn’t have a decent meal all summer.


2. Liverpool


A. When George Orwell visited Liverpool his guide was George Garratt, a working-class left-wing activist who he admired. We will revisit this tour through George’s grandson Sean – showing us the places his granddad took Orwell, and talking about poverty today and what held his grandfather back.


B. Orwell was also very impressed by what a good and effective council had done for the city, helping stop the rot of poverty. We will look at the newly elected mayor of Liverpool and what he may be able to do now to alleviate austerity in the modern day.


3. Wigan


A.  Louise Fazackerley, known as Louise the Poet won the Radio 3 new voices award and is married to a soldier. She will take us around the town to where Orwell stayed and explain why lots of people in Wigan hate the book (he made their town synonymous with poverty). We will also visit local charities to meet people who are struggling today in Wigan.


B. We are looking for the last ‘pit brow lass,’ now over 100. The pit brow lasses stood searching through the coal to take out the stones with trousers skirts tucked into their knickers and men used to come to take photographs of them. The Middle classes considered them degenerate. They worked from the age of 10 and died young. Wigan Museum also has brilliant footage and pictures from the 1930s.


4. Stoke

A. Immigration – Orwell saw Mosley speak on the Road to Wigan Pier. We will speak to a 102-year-old who was among those who protested against Mosley coming to the town. The Kindertransport started a year after Wigan Pier was published - we would speak to survivors.


B. There is also a graffiti artist famous in Stoke called Professor Pigment (the Pottery’s Banksy). We would ask him to show us around. His art tries to highlight the positive in Stoke.




4. Birmingham


A. Birmingham is in the grip of a desperate homelessness problem. We visit SIFA fireside where hundreds of homeless people are fed every day.


B. We travel up to the Clent Hills where Orwell stayed in a youth hostel, and look down on the Black Country, talking to people about their lives.


5. Barnsley

A. In Barnsley, Orwell went down a pit, and writes a lot about mining. Mining was a brutal job, but had dignity not afforded to the generations who have come afterwards. Today’s workers spent hours with no daylight working in warehouses in zero hour contracts, including at the local ASOS warehouse, which is a massive local employer. We interview ASOS workers and ex-miners talking about what happened to their communities since the Miners’ Strike and the death of the industrial north that Orwell writes about.


B. There is also a brilliant pensioner group in Barnsley called the Freedom Riders. They protest about train costs by jumping on public transport and refusing to pay. They talk about the area’s history of standing up for its rights.


6. Wigan Pier Voices

This film brings together different voices – local voices, celebrity voices – reading from the text. Local people reading may include homeless people, people in foodbanks, streetcleaners, health workers, nurses, pensioners etc. Celebrities who come from the different towns visited will also read from the text. This film could be part-animation (text on screen, animated archive photos etc), subject to time and budget. This film could be the jumping-off point for the other five films.



Technical Requirements

These films must be originated in High Definition 1920x1080 square pixels in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, 25 frames per second and acquired in camera at a minimum bit rate of 35Mbps and preferably 50Mbps. Sound must be recorded with appropriately placed microphones, giving minimum background noise and without peak distortion.


Pictures need to be well exposed, in focus, well framed and without excessive compression artefacts. Archive material should be zoomed to fill the 16:9 frame where possible without compromising the image quality or composition, otherwise it may be in a pillar box format.


Sound should be clear and well mixed and free from distortion, hiss and echo. Films should be mixed to EBU R128 standards, as in programme loudness must not exceed -23LUFS +/- 1.0LU, Maximum true peak level should not exceed -3dbTP, loudness range LRA should aim to be no more than 18LU (guidance only).


Text, credits and on-screen graphics must be within title-safe areas. For 16:9 this is within 80% of active width and 90% of active height.


File Delivery Specification

Films must be delivered in intra-frame codecs where each frame is compressed independently without reference to other frames (unlike inter-frame codecs e.g. H.264). The Bit rate must exceed 100mbps.


Acceptable file formats:

  • Quicktime
  • MXF OP1a


Acceptable Codecs and bit rates:

  • Apple Pro Res 422 or 422HQ
  • Avid DNxHD at min bit rate of 120
  • AVC Intra Class 100


In terms of audio mix, a full stereo mix should be contained on Channels 1 & 2. It’s preferable if a mix minus music and narration is supplied on Channels 3&4 enabling selected clips of programmes to be easily extracted for promo production purposes.


Stereo Programme






St Final Mix L

St Final Mix R

Mix minus music and narration L

Mix minus music and narration R


Filming and delivery dates

These films are best made after we finish each stop on the tour so that contributors have been identified, interviewed and have agreed to be filmed. We estimate 1-2 days filming per film plus a 2-3 day edit.


Filming needs to take place in August and September. We would like to see rough edits of all films by noon on Thursday 5th October. We will provide feedback to the rough edits so they can be tweaked that week, and then notes on the fine cut for any final changes the following week. We would like delivery of all final, completed films by noon on Thursday 19th October.



A fee of £12,000 + VAT is available to produce and deliver these six films.


Invitation to tender timeline

Please submit your response including short creative treatment to Ros Wynne-Jones [email protected] 

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