St. John’s Lodge No. 1 was contacted by Pinstripe Productions, a documentary filming company based in Glasgow, Scotland, regarding the making of a documentary on Robert Burns. They had been commissioned by BBC Scotland to prepare a program for Burns Night next January 25.
Naturally, a number of programs on Burns have come out of Scotland, and in this case the intention was to focus on his influence on the United States, in particular how his poems came to be published over here. However, very soon into the research phase they realized that his membership in Freemasonry had a profound effect on his outlook and his output.
We had barely a week to put everything together in time for the filming. Firstly, the company had to be checked to make sure it was bona fide and that it wouldn’t show Masonry in a bad light. Fortunately, contacts at BBC Scotland were able to reassure us on that point! Then we had to clear a number of hoops with Grand Lodge: firstly the Grand Master’s permission had to be obtained, then the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home, and as the Trustees of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library were informed (since we intended to include some artefacts). Finally, the Building Management had to be consulted since there were requirements regarding access to the building, insurance policies, etc. Everybody pulled together, and all the necessary steps were accomplished in only five business days.