The video had a complex message; that the professionals in the conference had the interests of the child at heart but also wanted to help the family as much as they could. It had to be totally credible to viewers who were going through the process. Viewers had to engage with and relate to a couple who had possibly neglected their child in some way and it had to be interesting to 18-24 year olds (not a straightforward task when much of the story takes place in one room).
Producer Alison Roper of the Media Trust and Chris Payne suggested writing and dramatising a fictitious conference using actors as the couple in question and professionals in the field to lend credibility and accuracy.
To keep viewers engaged Chris scripted a story where the viewer would not know until the end of the conference if the couple had, or had not been neglectful of their child with a carefully constructed narrative that swung sympathy for, and against the couple and various moments.
Empathy for the couple was established using key ‘empathising’ pointers in the character’s back story: visible love for their child, concern for other family and love and a desire to protect each-other in the face of authority.
Knowing the professionals had extremely busy schedules, Chris complied a script with key bullet points to hit. This also ensured the professionals would use accurate terminology and deliver it in a manner that was appropriate, avoiding lengthy technical checks in the edit.
Unbeknown to the professionals, the actors were given cues in advance where they might interrupt or question what was happening, while Paul shot in the film in a documentary, ‘fly on the wall’ style, both of which gave a strong sense of realism to the proceedings.
“This was a complex subject, and we were very pleased by the end result. The films have been well received by families, as well as having been used as training materials for practitioners such as social workers, and members of the judiciary”.
Pam Carruthers – Family Rights Group
To date the film has received over 12,000 views on YouTube.