A short film about citizenship
The initial conversation involved the influential Simon Duffy, Director at the Centre for Welfare Reform. (The film was to form part of his keynote speech.)
So where did we start? Dominic Lodge, long-time collaborator and friend from Southern Health, proposed the idea of making a short film about citizenship. We suggested that the right personal story would bring the idea alive. Together we looked at several possible ideas emerging from across the trust, and although we were close to making others, Andrew’s story was the one that captured the imagination.
We both wanted an inspiring story, one that would resonate with service-users, frontline staff and management teams alike. A story that was authentic, based within the Health Trust and was happening now.
Using Simon Duffy’s Seven Keys to Citizenship as a foundation, we wanted to show - rather than tell - how Andrew's life embodied these principles.
It is always tempting, and perhaps formulaic, to add another voice into the story - a member of staff or friends and family - but we decided to stick with just Andrew. It just seemed to better complement the ideas of citizenship.
Over the years, we've developed various approaches to working with people on camera. With Andrew, our focus was always on doing what he loves most - being a mechanic. During the filming we talked about all sorts of things, but always returned to cars, the garage and his love of both.
What did Dominic (from Southern Health) have to say?
“It had a profound effect on staff who have supported Andrew for a number of years and have shared his journey. There was a delight in his self-confidence and how he articulated his feelings. At the conference, staff were visibly moved.
“There is something about the visual story too. We’d have missed so much - his face, his demeanour, the banter at the garage - if I had just read the story. There were so many talking points within the film.
“Simple things stood out too. Those of us that know Andrew are aware that he is a man of deep routine - so the simple fact that he turned his cap around for us and showed his face was remarkable.
“Talking to colleagues, we’ve realised that the stories that come from those we serve - rather than from management or staff - have more power and eloquence than we ever imagined.”
We wanted to bring the intensity of ‘seeing’ a person, an approach that we have developed through our other films and research. There's something about being seen, being appreciated and understood as a complex individual. The fascinating thing is that this can happen due to just one or two shots. For us, rather than simply making a film, the emphasis during production and editing is about creating something that makes a connection with the viewer.
And the outcomes?
Southern Health is now using the film as part of its staff induction and it will be shown at the upcoming staff awards ceremony. It remains to be seen whether the film will inspire others to lead a life beyond services they receive.