Royal College of Art

Neil Parkinson

A profile film for the Royal College of Art in London, the world's most influential institution of art and design for postgraduate study, as part of their video campaign ‘Meet the RCA’.

The Brief
NextShoot was asked to produce a short profile film about Dr. Neil Parkinson, the Royal College of Art’s Archives & Collections Manager. There are in fact 30 special collections in the college’s care, including the RCA archives and art collections, the photographic record of student work, and the Colour Reference Library, an internationally renowned collection of material on colour.

The RCA Communications & Marketing team provided us with a brief including the sort of questions and content they wanted Neil to cover in an interview. The aim was to illustrate the interview selections with interesting broll material and, of course, examples of the broad range of materials in the archives and collections.

The overall objective of the campaign was to give potential postgraduates a real sense of the college’s staff - their approach to their work and the influences on their practice - and, in this instance, to draw attention to the quality of the archive resources available to students.

For a video production company with a passion for creating content about the arts and a love for all content set in a historical context, it really was a dream brief.
Meet the RCA. Neil Parkinson Meet the RCA. Neil Parkinson
Meet the RCA. Neil Parkinson Meet the RCA. Neil Parkinson
Our Approach
From emails, phone calls and a face-to-face meeting our video agency fleshed out a script based on Neil’s responses to the questions in the brief and a site visit to the Kensington campus. In truth, Neil’s passion for his work and the depth and breadth of the RCA’s archives meant that we had to be very selective about what to include in the script given the desired length of the video.

We interviewed Neil in his offices, taking care not to feature the background that would be the main location for our broll filming. For the cutaway material we shot a sequence with Neil and a student in the Colour Reference Library - one of the largest collections of material on colour anywhere in the world and bursting with books, journals, papers, swatches and pamphlets.

We filmed a variety of broll shots of Neil examining the materials he had referenced in his interview including a range of film posters made by the RCA Graphic Design Society and copies of the highly influential ARK student magazine that was first published in 1950. We also visited the Battersea campus to film Neil and his colleague cataloguing prints, offering up a different location and a new set of activities to bring visual richness to the film.
The Results
Neil was a truly excellent speaker and so the hardest part of our job on his film was to decide what to include and what to exclude from his interview, especially as we could support much of what was referenced with broll footage or scans of works from the RCA archives. With the final edit we feel we reached a good balance between covering a number of key topics that were important to Neil, but without spreading the material too thinly.

Visually we were very happy with the variety of set-ups and the look of the materials in the video, but above all we felt that we had done justice to the professionalism and passion with which Neil looks after the archives and special collections. It’s a job which, if done properly, catalogues and protects the incredible heritage of the RCA for students to use as inspiration in their work today, but also two hundred years from now. We can report that the future is bright.

The Colour Reference Library contains 1600 books, along with journals, press cuttings and objects, and is open by appointment to all researchers and practitioners.
Meet the RCA. Neil Parkinson Meet the RCA. Neil Parkinson
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