Nurses are the best of us. They’re with us in our hour of need and they help people go through some of the most difficult moments in their lives. However, we often think of them in busy wards in huge hospitals. That isn’t all that nurses do though. There are whole teams of nurses who work directly in our communities helping people who are going through difficult times outside of the hospital. We need even more of these people to meet the increased demands within our communities, but not everyone is keen to take on these roles. There are so many misconceptions about the role of community nurses which has led to a shortage of these vital specialists.
In 2021 Solent NHS Trust were looking to address this shortage with an intensive recruitment campaign. They knew the challenges they faced, they knew the misconceptions that were out in the world and they wanted to tackle them head on. As part of this campaign the trust wanted to produce a film which would sit at the heart of their efforts. The film needed to be engaging and fly in the face of some of the negative ideas around community nursing, especially the idea that the work is somehow less interesting or rewarding than traditional nursing.
The most pressing thing that we needed to discuss for this project was the creative direction of the film. There was a lot of favour for a traditional corporate video but we felt that a more commercial approach was worth pursuing. This is usually our natural instinct, but in this instance we had even more reason to think so. The trust were looking to reach new people and show them that a career in community nursing and Solent NHS Trust could be hugely rewarding. It made sense to us to throw out the playbook on how they usually reached people. We put forward our thinking, put in the time to explain why we felt this was going to be the most effective approach and, fortunately, the recruit team agreed with us. It was a huge relief and it meant that we could push ahead with pre-production.
The concept that we were looking to create was high energy, high contrast and story led. Essentially it followed a small number of community nurses going about their working day. That being said, we didn’t want to produce a fly-on-the-wall documentary. We wanted to be truthful, but we also wanted the film to feel polished and stylised. In order to achieve this we would need to find willing patients and nurses in order to recreate scenes that reflect community nursing. In pre-production this meant identifying the right people and locations, but it also meant carefully planning and blocking out scenes.
We wanted to be as efficient as possible with people’s time whilst capturing the right kind of imagery. Our way of doing this was creating a detailed storyboard that we could work from. Not only did this outline the shots we wanted to capture, it made clear the camera movement and overall visual style we were looking to capture too.
This storyboard meant that during production we could work quickly and within the limited spaces that we had to work with. We had spent so much time thinking about camera movement, lighting and what each shot meant during pre-production that it was second nature when we turned up on location. Between a carefully selected lighting package and our handy RED Gemini we were able to capture the images that we had seen in our minds when discussing the film earlier on. In all honesty it was a challenge at times to strike the balance between practicality and style. Challenges are what keep our job interesting though!
When projects are this structured it tends to make the editing and post-production a little bit smoother. We had a blueprint for how the final film would play out, but on set we had captured more than we needed. Sometimes a shot would pop up that was too good to miss, which meant that we had extra material. That meant that we needed to sift through this and find the parts that would actually add to the story we were trying to tell. On top of this, we used post-production to add sound design to make the scenes feel richer and more real.
Schedules and timelines
What we created was a central hero film and a selection of social assets, but the project was much bigger than that. It was a clear message from the charity about their intentions and the need for equal opportunities for young people. What started out as an ambitious idea ended up being a film that we’re really proud of and hopefully will go on to achieve a lot. The films that we created will form a key part of a marketing strategy that will reach even more schools and help even more young people.