Filming a documentary with a difference in Zambia

After ten years of championing child literacy in Africa and beyond, The Book Bus wanted to celebrate with a documentary – and we travelled halfway around the world to make it happen for them.


Founded in 2008 by publisher and founder of the Man Booker Prize, Tom Maschler, and supported by Sir Quentin Blake, the Book Bus is a charity working to improve child literacy around the world. It delivers books and libraries to children and teachers across Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador, and provides activities and crafts materials to foster a love of reading.

The charity has travelled over 500,000 miles and delivered 250,000 books in the last decade, changing the lives of thousands of children. The charity wanted to tell this story through a documentary, celebrating what they have achieved and raising awareness of the work they do.

Article Ten already had a relationship with a patron of the charity and were only too happy to channel our strong commercial video expertise into creating a documentary.

Piecing together the Book Bus story

We flew to Zambia and spent two weeks travelling around the country, visiting schools and libraries, and speaking to local people about the need for education in Africa. We always received a friendly welcome, and the wonderful people we met made us more determined than ever to produce something amazing.

The hard work wasn’t over once we returned to London. We had to condense hundreds of hours’ worth of footage into just one hour, sorting through the material to find the story we wanted to tell.

We included interviews with all of the charity’s patrons, including Sir Quentin Blake, whose distinctive drawings adorn the side of the bus itself. He also kindly provided us with some of his illustrations, which we used to create bespoke animations to punctuate the film.

Spreading awareness of the charity’s work

Audiences have already been impressed by the documentary, and it made its official premiere at a charity event in November 2018. The Book Bus’s latest campaign aims to get 10,000 children in Zambia and Malawi reading confidently by 2020, and we hope our film will connect with viewers and inspire donations for this truly worthwhile cause.

“I very much enjoyed the animations and felt they were true to the spirit of the original.” – Sir Quentin Blake, patron of the Book Bus