Transforming Mental Health – Brand Film
CLIENT DESCRIPTION: MQ is the UK’s leading mental health research charity. Through their global network of leading scientists the aim and vision of the charity is to better understand mental illness and one day effectively treat and ultimately prevent mental illnesses.
BRIEF: MQ approached us with a well thought out, but tough brief to respond to. Their previous brand video was created in 2014/15 and had become off-brand in terms of messaging, tone of voice as well as look and feel. They had done a cross-organisational content audit and found that an updated introductory video was vital to supporting their fundraising and engagement activity. They needed a totally new and refreshed film that would have longevity and not become outdated. The client had a lot of key messages that they wanted to pack into the film as they needed the film work as both a commercial marketing and fundraising film and they really needed something that would show a great return on their investment in producing a film.
APPROACH & PROCESS: We chose to tell a simple story to highlight how unseen mental health problems can make simple daily tasks a real challenge. Alongside the narrative through line we interspersed testimonies from real people to ensure the film remained authentic and true to how MQ operate. Each person discusses an aspect of what MQ do: Trying to understand, treat and one day prevent mental illness from occurring.
With the film being a mixture of both documentary and single character narrative based storytelling we had extensive conversations with the client about casting someone to play this lead role. We had to make sure that we found an actor who could communicate emotions in a very subtle way without any dialogue and we are confident that our lead actor Jamie did this justice in the final film.
We shot on 16mm film with an ever moving camera and used rapid cuts to keep the audience engaged. Once we decided that we wanted to shoot everything on film stock, and had got the clients buy-in that this visual aesthetic was the way to go, our next step was to attach a director and a crew with a wealth of experience shooting films on film stock. We decided to collaborate with the directing partnership of Jamie McCormack and James Coyle on this project and brought in their regular Director of Photography Eoin McLoughlin who has shot countless beautiful films on 16mm film stock with them.
Unlike filming on digital cameras, shooting on film stock poses the major challenge that you are working with a finite supply of film stock meaning you have to be incredibly frugal and resourceful when filming, for fear of running out of physical film. We were incredibly fortunate that as this project was for a charity, Kodak were able to support us, giving us enough stock to shoot over the course of three days. We still had a lot to cram into our three days of filming and with a relatively substantial amount of kit and crew, including an Aaton XTR camera and full steadicam rig, we had to source and scout suitable locations that were near to one another so unit moves could be kept to a minimum. After extensive searches and obtaining permits and filming rights we had our locations locked in and our days planned and scheduled.
Before we could start post-production Kodak were kind enough to ingest, process and scan all of the film stock for us meaning it could be edited in Adobe Premiere. Once we had this all in hand our editor and the directors sat together for many hours constructing a rough draft of the film that was both on point in terms of the tone of the emotion and also hit all the key messages that the client needed to come through in the film. We played with a great number of music tracks to score the film with and once settled on a suitable piece we then had a voiceover artist record multiple takes of the voiceover script that accentuated the emotional tone of the film. Once the film was picture locked we worked with a very experienced sound designer called Scott Johns who was kind enough to balance and redress the audio levels of the film. Similarly CHEAT, one London’s leading colour grading studios, were also very supportive in color grading the final film, and the work they did on this we were delighted with.
Producer: Alfie Chambers
Directed By: James&James
DOP: Eoin McLoughlin
Lead Actor: Jamie Bannerman
Editor: Lindsey Studholm
Colour Grading: CHEAT
Sound Recordist: Emanuele Correani
Sound Designer: Scott Johns
Creative Director: Adam Neale
Thanks to Kodak Film Lab for their generous support.