Behind the scenes

I can't believe I have allowed a microphone in my face for three months!

Stuart and I are relaxing over lunch in the new dry bar and café. Three months on from our first meeting and with just days to go until the release of the 30 minute documentary, we're looking back on the moments which define the programme.

Stuart concluded it had been a "really interesting process", explaining "I have never done a project on this scale before." Bad experiences with media in the past meant Stuart had a difficult decision as to whether or not to get involved in the documentary. Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and ADHD as a child, Stuart told me the most challenging part of the process was "the realisation that my Asperger's would be made public. Making that choice was hard as were the first few recordings."

In front of a technical team and with his story expected to be heard throughout the community, Stuart ultimately had no problem opening up on his childhood, café and commitment to his beloved supper club. He fought nearly two hours of questions in the studio but claimed it was "relatively easy." He said "I wouldn't consider myself an expert but I'm certainly an expert on myself and Sourced [in Salford]. I don't think there's anyone that knows me better than me!"

Stuart had a crucial role in helping to produce the documentary, which was recorded over three months totalling over 15 hours of recorded audio. Liaising with friends, family and colleagues he helped to bring together eight studio interviews with many weeks recording 'actuality'. He told me "for the people we work with, you became somebody they've had tea with, you were no longer a journalist or a producer. To get an honest picture of what's going on, it has to be 'fly on the wall'."

 Photo courtesy of Jayne Gosnall 

As we enjoyed our ham and cheese paninis, I asked Stuart what it was like working with autistic producer. "It was different!" he laughed. Stuart conceded "it was difficult at times, but it enabled us to be really clear on the details and talk honestly about Asperger's." Now classed as Autism, it affects over 1 in 100 people in the UK and awareness of the disability is growing. Stuart said he hoped the documentary would "help capture the imagination of Autistic people, because we're all different."

As we finished our lunch and with more food preparation on the horizon for Stuart, he announced he was "excited" about the release, saying "it has made us really think in depth about what we do. I think after all the work we've done and all the work you've done, it will be really good for people to hear our story."

© 2020 Nick Ransom

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