“The Show Must Go On” - And It Did!
Today marks a month since the 2020 Riley Awards. If you’re not aware, they’re the awards ceremony to recognise the work of the 300+ clubs and societies in Leeds University Union. Normally it’s a night of glitz and glam in the Riley Smith Theatre, with loads of awards handed out, a bunch of fantastic performances, and it’s followed by a night at the infamous union club night, Fruity.
But this year, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a pandemic on. So we couldn’t all gather in a theatre for a few hours and then dance the night away in the basement of the union.
The Riley Awards are important. Not only is it always a fantastic night of entertainment, clubs and societies work ridiculously hard through the year and they celebrate that work. They mean a lot to me personally as well. I’ve always played a big part in the LSTV broadcasts of them - it was one of the first things I did on committee as Head of Live in April 2018. This year I’ve been LUU’s media rep, and sitting on the activities exec, I’ve seen loads of fantastic achievements from societies which couldn’t go unrecognised. I’m also really passionate about youth leadership and empowerment as well, which is obviously a huge part of it, plus I just love the glitz and glam of it all.
So. The show must go on, and I knew that within LSTV, we have enough talented individuals to pull off an awards show in lockdown a few times over. So the ideas started bouncing around in one of the last meetings of the 2019/20 LSTV committee. We started with James Corden’s #HomeFest, one of the first TV shows to be filmed at home with performances.
The ‘James Corden’ of the Rileys would be Lydia, LUU’s Activities Officer. The performances would come from the dance societies and performance societies who are an integral part of the Rileys every year (some of whom had recently had performances cancelled). As always, the awards would be presented by the union’s activities reps, just on a video call instead of on stage. When I pitched this format to the activities exec, they loved it! It was official, the Rileys 2020 had the go-ahead.
The turn-around for the production itself was quite tight. The award winners were only decided nine days before the broadcast. It was only at that point that the running order could be finalised, filming scheduled, and scripts written.
The numbers around the production are pretty impressive. 11 video editors were involved in pulling together the show - all editing at home of course! They were using footage from a total of 206 different filming locations, thanks to the incredible number of people featured in the performances (massive shout-out to dance rep Sarah and performance & music rep Lucy for that!). And a total of 47 awards were handed out.
On the night it peaked at 307 simultaneous live viewers, although some societies were viewing via a screenshare on a video call, so the actual number is likely to be considerably higher. Over the following weekend, the Facebook post reached over 5000 different people, 100 people reacted, and it had over 140 comments and has been shared 26 times. Perhaps the nerdiest number of all - the folder on my hard drive is 41.7 GB!
Intrigued? Here’s the final product:
And after all of that, it was time for a final Virtual Fruity, on Leeds Student Radio. Previously I’ve been the producer for Virtual Fruity, on this night I was pressing all the buttons as well, having converted my very messy kitchen into a radio studio. Click here to listen back to the show!
Words by Seb Cheer.