Rachael Buchanan-Hughes
Rachael Buchanan-Hughes on 18 June 2021

Farmers Apprentice - Case in Point

Farmers Apprentice is a bi-annual programme by Farmers Weekly designed to help recruit the best young business minds into agriculture. We had previously produced the programme in 2018 but this time needed to find a way to do it despite the restrictions put in place by the global COVID pandemic.

Projects & Operations Director Fergus Bruce and Producer Max Evans sit down to discuss the challenges of this project in more detail in this video case study.

You can also read our written case study for more information.


Full Video Transcription


Max Evans: So the Farmers Apprentice is a competition run by Farmers Weekly magazine to find the next young talent in farming and agriculture. So 10 young apprentices compete in a week long series of farming challenges, to be crowned the "farmer's apprentice". So we'd obviously filmed the Apprentice back in 2018, the show runs every other year. So in 2019 Farmers Weekly approached us to come and do it again for 2020, but obviously in 2019 when we agreed to it, we weren't anticipating the challenges that would come in 2020 when we actually had to film it.

Fergus Bruce: There was just a huge amount of unknowns in terms of how do we take the show that people know and love and produce it in a way that's COVID secure, safe, and that still is as viewable and entertaining as the previous shows.

Max Evans: So the first big challenge that I've come with was in terms of location, where are we actually going to do this? Previously it had always be done on universities, because it's got all the infrastructure, but that wasn't an option because of coronavirus. So we actually reached out to the judge from last series in 2018, Robert Neill, to ask if we could do it on his farm, up in Upper Nisbet in Scotland. It was a great option, but we had to put a lot of work in to actually make it workable during the week. And then obviously the coronavirus was seemingly an impossible challenge, but we essentially adopted what is now very popular in terms of like creating a bubble. So through a huge series of testing and different isolation periods, we managed to ensure that everybody who came on to location was as safe as they could possibly be and create this bubble on that farm. And we also had a lot of discussions about the crew.

Fergus Bruce: The big bit of feedback that we've had from Farmers Weekly before is how much fun they'd had working with us. And that wasn't something they'd experienced before. Within our business, we were always commented on what a friendly team and how much fun we have whilst being experts in what we do. Yeah. We're taking a crew with director, two producers, assistant producers, runners, four camera operators, two sound men, DIT. So some people that are probably watching this are thinking Christ that's a lot of people. It's not a lot of people because you think you've got to have two cameras, really, for most shots that you're taking, because you've got to have something to cut to and there's two people speaking. We can't just pause it because you'll lose, you ruin that natural moment. It's a huge task. And also judging what to record.

Max Evans: When you watch these things, you think that those stories, those narratives, those characters just like come out, but there's a skill to seeing those and seeing those tensions and seeing the different characters and how they're progressing throughout the week and then, you know, pointing your camera at that and capturing that and asking the right questions and-

Fergus Bruce: Treating them with the right emotions.

Max Evans: Exactly. Yeah. It's similar to everything that we do in the sense that yes, we have a client who is wanting an end product from us, but you can't focus so much on that end product that the process itself becomes a pain. Yes, we're making sure we're getting the best product possible, but also that it's not, oh, the film crew doing this again. Oh, the film crew are a nightmare.

Fergus Bruce: And they're young people right?

Max Evans: Yeah. They're there to compete for £10,000 at the end of the day. Weren't really worrying too much about the cameras. So we've got to find a way of blending those two worlds and making sure that we find a way of getting the best product and ensuring that Farmers Weekly and everybody there is having a good time; that we're have a good time as well.

Fergus Bruce: And I think that came out in the end results, right?

Max Evans: I mean, it was a massive success and we just really enjoyed the process, really happy with the quality. And then in terms of the actual results, the views almost doubled, I think, from the previous series.

Fergus Bruce: I think the sponsorship feedback was really positive. You know, they saw huge value in the way that their brands were being represented and had actually seen business off the back of it. So massive success; sponsors over the moon, Farmers Weekly really delighted. I think the general feedback they had was that it was such a lift for the farming community. Generally having a show like this come out, that felt sort of semi-normal. So, again?

Max Evans: Yeah! They want to do it again, and I'll be there a hundred percent.

Fergus Bruce: Bring it on.

Max Evans: Bring it on.


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