We have been really privileged recently in that our latest video production gave us the chance to work with Thames Valley Police on their Christmas Anti-Drink Drive campaign. The final film is a short, powerful, important message pointing out the dangers of drinking and driving, not just to you but to other people.
The process began with the scriptwriting, which was based on the concepts that Thames Valley Police wanted to pursue. We wrote the script to be deliberately ambiguous. There is some misdirection in the voiceover – is this The Girl's voice we're hearing? Did The Girl herself drink and drive or was she an innocent victim? Then there's the shock element of “the crash” - the moment when we see her terror and realise that she was dead all along that takes us to the mortuary and the tagline, and ultimate message of the film - “Where will you end up tonight?”
Once the script has been written, you need to find the right location, and we ended up shooting in a bedroom in our own neck of the woods, Newbury in Berkshire, not far from our own film studio at Greenham Business Park. The bedroom was long and wide, enabling us to get all of our equipment – camera, sound kit, lighting – into the space. Production design is always key to establishing character and place, and we had to carefully, or rather, messily dress the room to look like the bedroom of a 20-21 year old young woman.
We also had to find a mortuary. There are mortuary film sets available but the ones we looked at were not quite right. We wanted something stark, white, real. We ended up shooting in a small private mortuary in Wales which was perfect for our needs. The people there were great in advising us so that we could show due respect to the reality of what happens in a working mortuary. We were able to capture the tragedy of a young life wasted by lighting the space with cold blue light on the white walls, white sheet and steel body trolley.
Of course casting for something like this is hugely important. We auditioned a number of very talented actors in the audition and workshop space at our studio in Greenham, Thatcham, West Berkshire for the role of The Girl, the most important thing being that they could be subtle in their facial portrayal of emotions and seem young and vulnerable and sympathetic. Finally they had to look innocent and tragic “in death”. After much deliberation we cast a very talented, experienced young actor named Amber-Rose May, who did a fantastic job and was a pleasure to work with, thoroughly professional and good fun even when lying on a mortuary slab.
Our crew consisted of lighting cameraman Alex Dewhirst, Director Ben Myers (wait, that's me...), our Head of Production Phil White on sound, Producer Nick Blair and the fabulous Melissa Chartan as our make up artist – who did a brilliant and disturbing job of making up The Girl post-mortem. There was even some set photography and a bit of expert advice on forensics from Amy who stopped by on the second day of filming! As you can tell, video production is very much a team effort.
Working with Thames Valley Police is always a pleasure as they are such a dedicated, professional and passionate organisation. They are the largest non-Metropolitan Police force in the country covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and this campaign feels especially important as it is aimed at keeping young people out of harm's way. Editing of the video using special effects to create the time/space glitches and of course the sound production and mixing of the complex audio in our sound studio was exciting and the team at Thames Valley Police and the Roads Policing Joint Operations Unit (with Hampshire Roads Policing) gave great notes and feedback.
As a video production company you always want the chance to work with great people on important video content. We couldn't be happier with the opportunity to work on this awesome film production project and we're thrilled with the result. Please do check out the video on Youtube or on the Thames Valley Police Facebook page if you haven't had the chance to see it yet.