VIDEO: An Update on My Driving Lessons – 28 February 2015

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Last Saturday I went and made a film, which would deliver the good news about my (practical) driving test.

The idea had been to create a kind of ‘sequel’ to my ‘First Ever Driving Lesson’ video – which, bizarrely, is one of my most popular YouTube uploads of all time. I wanted the ‘reveal’ (namely, that I had passed the test) not to be in the ‘meta’ of the clip, but rather somewhere in the script. I therefore thought it would be good to film Dad and I driving along – as in the original, June 2013 vlog – and for him to say something along the lines of “And now, Andrew, I’d like you to pull over a safe and convenient spot”. It was only as he got out of the car and I drove off that viewers would realise I must have qualified for a full licence.

My original intention had been to shoot this outside Waitrose: I’ve joked (probably unfairly) in the past that the only opportunities I ever really got to practise were in trips ferrying Dad to and fro town, allowing him to enjoy his free cup of coffee on the way home. Of course, as I thought about this more, I realised that it would be completely impossible to film it at such a location. The ‘Trose is Maidenhead lies on what can be a rather busy road, with a particularly nasty and poorly-designed crossroads immediately adjacent to the supermarket.

Instead, we went to the Stafferton Way retail park, where Dad could instead be filmed walking towards Maplin – another of his favourite shops. As I struggled to simultaneously drive, direct, and deliver a piece-to-camera, my respect for the presenters of Top Gear (and other motoring television programmes) grew: it was much harder than they make it look!

On Thursday evening, just hours after learning the good news myself, I set up my cameras to record as I telephoned my siblings to let them know. Matthew sounded rather unsurprised: I think he’d already put two and two together, since he knew the driving test was coming up around this time, and Dad had just invited him for a rare meal out – whilst refusing to state the cause and occasion. Harriet, however, was not at all aware that the test was coming up, so I reset and tried again. Annoyingly, she wasn’t able to pick up her phone – so, once home from NoodleNation, I tried again and this time got through. I used part of the recording of our conversation towards the end of the video.

The closing shot was filmed in the last bit of daylight on Saturday – just before I was meant to be home, to catch a lift to my Taplow Youth Choir rehearsal. I couldn’t make a film about my driving test and not have a cheesy metaphor in there somewhere: thus, “The road ahead is long and winding. Here starts the journey of independence.”

Bish bash bosh, one short film, written in ten minutes and shot in an afternoon. The editing took longer: a failure on one of my archive hard-drives meant accessing the raw 2013 rushes was extremely difficult. We did temporarily fix the drive for long enough to access the footage, but by that time I had lifted the few seconds I needed from the finished edit of that earlier video. Another problem: Final Cut seems to have made it much harder than it ever used to be to apply a regional blur. For this reason, number-plate pixelation and distortion of my phone’s screen in the cutaway over-the-shoulder shot was done in AfterEffects. It meant learning the basics of a new package – something that slowed me down – but I’m sure I will make use of the time investment in future.

Read about Andrew’s driving test – and why it took him so long to finally book it – in this related post.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a 21-year-old from Maidenhead in Berkshire. He is now two-thirds of the way through his Journalism Studies degree at the University of Sheffield. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, going to the theatre, and writing about himself in the third-person.