An emotive series of powerful films
One of our financial services clients commissioned us to work on a series of campaigns throughout the year exploring a range of topics linked to Inclusion and Diversity themes. One of these campaigns was aligned to Mental Health Awareness Week, with the 2022 edition focusing on the theme of Loneliness. We were tasked with creating a suite of high quality film content for internal use that would explore the concept of loneliness, raise awareness of the issue and encourage colleagues to open up and share their own experiences with one another, thereby facilitating a broader conversation.
A call was put out by the client for volunteers who’d like to share their stories on the theme of loneliness, a shortlist of around a dozen of whom was then collated. Over a number of Teams calls with the colleagues, we listened to their stories and experiences, and started to develop an understanding of the many ways in which loneliness can manifest itself. This was an important first step as we wanted the creative treatment to be led by the story, rather than bend the content to fit a creative.
A recurring theme from those conversations was the contrast between internal feelings of loneliness and others’ perception of it - how people can be surrounded by others, or outwardly sociable, but wrestle with feelings of loneliness inside. This would become the tagline for the campaign: You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. Armed with a deep understanding of each of our colleagues’ stories, we began formulating an approach that would bring each colleague’s story to life as authentically and powerfully as possible.
Our research led us toward exploring the idea that feelings of loneliness aren’t something immediately apparent to the outside world; that being around other people doesn’t on its own mean a person isn’t lonely. We wanted to show how real colleagues are impacted by feelings of loneliness, and make the audience reflect on how each person is fighting their own small battles on a daily basis, regardless of how they appear to others.
Each film begins with a series of vignettes of our real colleagues in close up, going about their daily life. Each shot is accompanied by clear background noise of the environment they’re in: unseen people and cars on the street, dogs at the park, a noisy lounge, the chatter of other people. The colleague describes their experiences in their own words, captured in audio only. We shot the colleague and their surroundings with hand held cameras, employing macro close ups and focus pulls to emphasise the small details of facial expressions, eye movements and gestures.
We shot everything in 4K and at 50 frames per second, to allow us to add subtle slow motion in post production. Sound design is a crucial part of the creative execution: we purposefully didn’t use a music track, instead recreating the typical but sparse soundscape you’d expect to encounter at each of the locations. The sound drops to almost nothing, with a muffled effect on what remains, accompanied by a long stare into the lens as the camera recedes to convey the reality of each individual’s circumstances, revealing the loneliness that lies beneath the surface.
The surprise of the reveal is intended to evoke a sense of shock that people can feel lonely in any situation. Subtle on-screen graphics provide the tagline - You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely - and that’s the only explanation we need. We created five separate films in total, each focusing on a different colleague and providing a different perspective on the theme of loneliness. Five films allowed playout of one per day throughout Mental Health Week, and we delivered shorter teaser clips and still imagery as supporting assets for use across our client’s internal channels.