The word cancer is terrifying. The disease and what it does to people and their families is even more so. Consider, on top of this, that the cancer you or a loved one has is particularly rare or difficult to treat and just imagine what effect this has on people’s lives. Luckily, there are charities out there who support people who are dealing with this; charities like PLANETS.
PLANETS specifically look to support people with pancreatic, liver, colorectal, gastric, oesophageal and neuroendocrine cancer. They do this not only through funding research into treatments, but also by funding patient support groups that provide much needed wellbeing support.
The charity does such vital work, but it needs donations to help make this happen. In time where charities are having to work even harder to generate those donations, PLANETS made the decision to explore creating their first hero film. We were fortunate enough to be the ones who would help them make it.
The film needed to be positive without undermining the seriousness of the topic. It had to be human and relatable, even for those of us with limited experience of the specific cancers they tackle. More than anything though it had to connect with people and to show them that they could make a real difference if they donate to PLANETS and support the work that they do. This was our dream brief.
The key to this film was always going to be a strong story. The narrative that we kept coming back to time and time again was one of ups and downs. Of moments of hopelessness followed by those small moments of joy that life throws our way. We explored other ideas, but this is something that we couldn’t leave alone. In the end, PLANETS felt the same way and ‘Cancer looks like this…’ was born.
It was an ambitious idea that required a lot of locations, people and archive material. Fortunately for us, PLANETS were such a great collaborator. They utilised their networks and helped us to find the people and places we needed to create the film. Once the story was solidified and logistics sorted we were able to dive right into production.
We spent 4 days in total on production. The goal was to craft moments that captured the ups and downs of living with cancer in a truthful way. We wanted the scenes to reflect real experiences, but we also wanted to create a film that felt polished and high end. Our aim was to focus on quality not quantity and to shoot to a fairly rigid storyboard. The storyboard meant that we had our scenes planned out and we could just focus on lighting and blocking in order to make the most of every scene. We had a pretty small crew for every day (because we were working in real homes and locations) but because of the planning we’d done we were still able to capture the look we were going for.
In post production it was a case of tying these shots together with voiceover (provided by Neal, the charity’s co-founder) and photos and videos from various PLANETS fundraising events. Bringing these elements together really helped bring the story to life.
Schedules and timelines
4 days of production
The film is something that we’re incredibly proud of and has been used extensively. Not only is it used for fundraising, it’s shown at support groups and the response so far has been amazing. The feedback PLANETS consistently receive on the film is so positive and the film is seemingly having the impact that we all hoped it would.
I approached NOTW to do a promotional film for PLANETS Cancer Charity and immediately knew I was in good hands. From the outset, their communication was impeccable with Tom always responding within a day and as soon as we set up a meeting with the wider team, Craig in particular, we knew that they understood us as a charity and what we wanted to achieve and we felt very comfortable with letting them take the lead on the story telling. They laid out the storyboard and schedule in detail and at every step, all eventualities were covered and everything was planned to the minute which made it very easy for us to prepare and line up the people and venues we needed to make the film come together. The filming process was enjoyable with the team showing incredible empathy to both the people (patients) involved, the environments we were working in and also to the schedules of the clinical team members we wanted to film, we couldn't have asked for more and as a result, everything went smoothly. To say we are happy with the outcome is an understatement, the team have totally delivered creating an emotive but positive film that completely captures the essence of PLANETS Cancer Charity and at the event we have used it at so far, got exactly the response we had hoped for, and more!