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Rob Whitworth Norwich 0 1 August 2017

Exclusive Rob Whitworth Interview: Norwich…A Story

Fans of BAFTA-winning urban filmmaker (and top gent) Rob Whitworth, and/or the cultural city of Norwich, will be very much aware of the latest of his projects to go viral – ‘Norwich…A Story’ – which was released on Friday 22nd July. What you may not know is that the exceptional video (produced in Whitworth’s unique signature ‘flow motion’ style and shown below) was a ‘passion project’, gifted by him to Norwich Cathedral, after hundreds of hours of work spent capturing some of the magic of our fine city.

(Rob Whitworth on Vimeo)

The Epic Studios team are already huge fans of Rob Whitworth, having met him last year while he was recording for an appearance on the One Show, discussing his contribution to ‘Planet Earth II’ (Rob Whitworth 2016 Interview). So, of course we were delighted to see him back in his home town. We were doubly excited to see Norwich featured in one of his videos, the first UK city to have enjoyed this honour.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to get a bit of background on this story for our readers. So, read our exclusive interview below for a bit more about the project that has captured the imagination of creatives across the globe, a multitude of gobsmacked locals, oh …and some actor guy called Russell Crowe?

Rob Whitworth inside Norwich Cathedral
(Images of Norwich and Norwich Cathedral kindly provided by Rob Whitworth)

Looks like you’ve gone viral again Rob…could you explain what inspired you to take this project on?

It was actually a few years in the making. James Shelton (Norwich Cathedral marketing manager) approached us in early 2015 after watching a video that we had made of Barcelona. We’ve made videos all over the place but, bizarrely, never in the UK. Norwich being my hometown and all, it had to be done!

I have read that it took you over a month just to shoot ‘Norwich…A Story’. How long did the entire process take from start to finish, including pre-production and post-production?

218 hours in total, 94 hours of shooting / recon and planning and 124 Hours in post. This is typical for one of our videos, about 40-60 with time spent shooting and post. Funny thing with this project was still being on location whilst working on the post, so I was able to go and re-shoot a couple of details, which usually isn’t possible.

What did you enjoy most while working on the film?

Exploring all the secret stairwells and passageways of the cathedral. I think It’s easy to take for granted the fact we have two 1000 year old buildings in this city which are still the cities landmarks to this day. Generally getting to see a city I know well from all sorts of new vantage points and locations was very cool.

Rob Whitworth Norwich market

…And the most challenging element?

As with every project, the weather was the biggest challenge, particularly shooting in March and April. No amount of camera trickery and creative work in post-production will disguise a flat grey sky, so getting sun and the right light was critical as always.

You are known to be a fan of interesting architecture. So, how does Norwich Cathedral compare to some of the other buildings you have photographed around the world, such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or Sagrada Familia in Barcelona?

Norwich Cathedral is a world class attraction right on our doorstep. I think it’s easy to forget that, such a great space to wander around and explore on sunny day.

Sagrada is obviously spectacular but very bustly and also a construction site. I like the sense of calm walking around the Norwich Cathedral Close. The Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul has a similar feeling of calm and oasis within a city.

This was quite a scaled down project for you in comparison to those you have become best known for, often shot in large Asian cities. How much impact did the size of the city and building of focus have on your usual process?

I find making a city video is about identifying the key ingredients and creating a story around them. This applies to every location, big and small, and is a great challenge. I really enjoyed trying to approach story-boarding this project as if I’d just gotten off a plane someplace and was seeing everything with fresh eyes.

Rob Whitworth Norwich Cathedral Nave

Did you get to see any secret areas while shooting the film…and if so, are they too secret to tell us about??

There is this amazing secret passageway that you can only get to by tapping on the side door of the cathedral three times… or is it four times…?

The Cathedral has actually got this fantastic maze of small ancient doors leading to great views.

Looking at the completed project, do you have a favourite sequence?

I really like the bit at the beginning where we dive through the Empingham gate and hurtle through a group of choristers. Mainly because it was so much fun to film. I rigged a MOVI gimbal to a bicycle that I was riding, then proceed to cycle flat out towards them. We were filming around morning assembly time so there was a huge crowd of on looking slightly bemused school kids and teachers. Lots of fun.

Rob Whitworth Norwich choir

What is the best thing that could happen as a result of your work on ‘Norwich…a Story’?

For me, it would be nice if people watch the video and feel good about living in Norwich …and maybe appreciate some of the things around them.

Would that be better than the personal endorsement from ‘Gladiator’ Russell Crowe?

Well, Russell Crowe is obviously partial to UK history after making Robin hood, perhaps he could make a movie about Robert Kett’s Rebellion? That would be cool. I’ll ask him!

Norwich...A Story

Obviously the work offers are going to continue to pour in, if you get time for a break, what would be the ideal way to spend it?

It’s not that gruelling. Our last shoot was a three-week shoot staying on a resort in Macau with lots of time for swimming with the little ones. More of that please!


Once again, Epic Studios has been charmed by the ridiculously talented (and as it turns out, incredibly generous) Rob Whitworth!

Keep up to date with his projects by following him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vimeo – connect with all 4 platforms via the Rob Whitworth website – 

(We promise you’ll be the first to know if we get any news on a Robert Kett’s rebellion film production…)

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