Cat Lammas: Heritage Liaison Advisor - Getting to Know Moosecat
As the first part of an ongoing interview series with members of the Moosecat Creative team, Moosecat’s blog writer Edward Lee sits down for a chat with Cat Lammas.
During the production of Moosecat’s Broken People series of short films, both Flutter by Edward Lee and Too Poor for Pride by Nadine O'Mahony were shot on location in the gorgeous Greyfriars' House and Garden in Worcester. A late medieval merchant’s house now open to the public, Moosecat’s shoots on the National Trust property were overseen by Cat Lammas, who acted as the crew’s heritage liaison advisor.
Edward: To kick things off, your role on these film shoots is not one that many may be familiar with. As an introduction, what does your role as heritage liaison advisor entail?
Cat: Essentially, I acted as the middleman between the management of the National Trust site and Moosecat’s film crew. I was there to ensure that the shoots went smoothly and without any damage to the Greyfriars site or artefacts. Having previously worked in Greyfriars, I knew what objects could be touched, how to look after the location, and what the concerns and priorities of the National Trust staff would be with us shooting there. Our permission to film in Greyfriars was largely secured through the manager knowing that I was going to be her eyes on-set.
E: What was that back and forth process in your work like?
C: Well, key to my role was the fact that I was keeping the best interests of both National Trust and the film crew at heart. If any member of the crew was handling film equipment that could potentially harm the environment of the location, I’m here to help them out and offer guidance just as much as I’m there for the National Trust staff. If the Greyfriars manager said a relatively niche conservation term, I’d translate that to the film crew. Likewise, if we needed to shoot some b-roll, I’d communicate with Greyfriars about what that meant and what it would involve. There’s a sense of give and take to the work, to ensure that everyone’s comfortable and confident in Moosecat’s work on location.
"I think an important part of filmmaking is having people with other specialised knowledge involved".
E: So that people can understand the level of professionalism needed from your role, can you give any details about specific moments on the shoots of Flutter and Too Poor for Pride?
C: For example, we shot Flutter in the site’s library, and used quite a strong light to create a harsh, shadowy mood to the film. As part of the process, we made sure to deliberately use a warm light to limit any potential damage to the books on display. Another case is that with Too Poor for Pride being set in a Victorian slum, soot was applied to the feet of our actress Kate Pothecary, and I made sure that was done in a safe environment as the National Trust limits the use of powder and airborne substances on its sites. This was all part of the constant presence I needed to be to keep the shoots at the National Trust standard and convey Moosecat Creative’s professionalism on-set.
"With the collaborative nature of film as an artform, the added work of different specialists can ultimately make a piece of art more three-dimensional".
E: You’re currently reading Art History with Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of East Anglia. Considering this, and your background in heritage work, your work with a film production company seems unique. It comes across like an interesting way for people with different backgrounds to enter the film industry. Would you agree?
C: Definitely. When you think of people working in the heritage sector, there’s not a natural trajectory into film. The spheres of study seem quite separate, and very specialised on each end. In history of art, working in film or in media consultancy roles never pops up as a suggested career option, so it’s a unique tangent to take. Personally, however, I’ve found that my skills from studying the heavily visual nature of art history, in examining how different factors result in a piece of art being produced and looking the way it does, has definitely contributed to my work in film production.
I’ve found that my role was very useful for everyone involved in the shoot, and I really enjoyed working with the Moosecat crew and the National Trust team equally. Later down the line I’ll be moving into the position of Senior Heritage Liaison with Moosecat. It’ll give me a lot more time to do research and consult with people, so I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to apply my skills and knowledge to the world of film.
E: In closing, would you recommend that more people with different, not overtly film-based backgrounds such as yourself experiment with work available, and add another bow to their string through gaining experience in film?
C: I would say so! I think an important part of filmmaking is having people with other specialised knowledge involved. A director might not necessarily have specialised knowledge in, say, the court of Louis XIV. So somebody who does have that knowledge could be a perfect fit into film either on-set, in pre or post-production or as a script consultant, but I think a lot of people with that knowledge unfortunately don’t think of film as a pathway for them. There are a lot more pathways for people who don’t necessarily have film training than the industry might suggest.
I think the industry offers a great avenue for people with backgrounds such as mine to get into, and to start helping film and visual media become more accurate and more diverse in its knowledge base as an industry. With the collaborative nature of film as an artform, the added work of different specialists can ultimately make a piece of art more three-dimensional, and that’s the work that I hope to continue doing.