Video Production is not the hero's weapon of choice in normal times, but in lockdown, whether it be through memes, Zoom meetings, or watching the daily government updates, video became the number one tool of choice for a lot of people.
For me, it has never been so important.
It starts with an idea
It dawned on me that in that 'peak' moment, you couldn't move for coronavirus, and anyone who had lost someone to the disease would undoubtedly find it impossible to find the space to really grieve their loved one. I had the idea to set up a free memorial video service for anyone affected by COVID, or by the impossibly small numbers permitted to attend funerals.
It continues if you're supported
April was an absolute flurry of planning and lining up chess pieces. I designed a website, floated the idea on LinkedIn, immediately and miraculously signed-up 50 creatives to help me, and had numerous calls with very experienced and enthused producers and voice over artists who gave their ideas and experience, all eager to see the project come to life.
Terri Sweeney, a media consultant, was a constant calm voice of reason, source of ideas, and the practical
'I'll do that' kind of person I needed in the early days, and she kept on as a producer for families throughout the project as well.
Sara Starling, a voiceover artist I'd never met before, immediately responded on linkedin and was so actively engaged with the idea that she managed to collect a bank of readings and poetry from voiceover artists across the country within 48 hours!
Nichola Adams, a sports producer in the south, and Jen Lane, an exec producer caught in lockdown mid-way through a move to Portugal, were constant and brilliant pillars of close support and integral to the success of the operation. Without them, I would have gone under.
And the comms and marketing team who jumped on board and started shouting from the rooftops that we were here and ready to help remember.
It might be my life's best work simply to have been surrounded by such incredible, dedicated, and passionate people.
They gave me the f
uel to carry on. I tracked down the bosses of Dropbox, Artlist and MotionArray, and asked (guilt-tripped) them to allow us to use their services for free - and one by one they all complied. A short time later we also received permission from PPL and PRS to use commercial music - a major coup for any family member who had left specific music in their funeral
The hard work begins
I remember the first request for a film. The elation that the project was working, deep sadness for the family, and trepidation about how we make this work from here. There were some difficult conversations, a lot of Slack chat, some of the toughest scripting I've ever experienced, and some exceptionally early morning and late-night edits. Needless to say, it was a lot of work and a big technical, logistical, emotional, and creative challenge for all of us.
But it was worth it.
"This has been a surreal time. We have been unable to have shared grief as a family, and even now it's difficult, but you have captured my mum's life and passions and we can view this as many times as we wish and remember her for the strong caring mum that she was." The collective responded to over 40 families. Simply being there for these people was enough, but we also made a raft of incredibly thoughtful and detailed films, with each one impacting the rich network of friends and family that that person left behind. We did exactly what we set out to do.
That's a wrap With fewer website hits and requests towards the tail end of July, we felt the project had come to its natural conclusion. So its time to say a very big thank you.
Over a hundred people volunteered, but the following people really put their best foot forward - you have been absolutely instrumental:
Terri Sweeney (Producer) Jen Lane (Producer) Nichola Adams (Producer) Vicky Barlow (Producer/Editor) Sara Starling (VO) Sally Hutchinson (Producer) Daniel Kenyon (Editor) Joe Kelly (Editor) Greg Bell (Editor) Katie Flamman (VO) Bearded Fellows (Producer) Rory Calder (Producer) Rebecca McAree (Comms) Daisy Vickers (Comms) Eleanor Printy (Comms) Elma Glasgow (Comms) Jamie McGee (Editor) Anthony Jones (Editor) Ellie Rose Brown (Producer) Hannah Robinson (Producer) Astrid Kroczek (SEO) Alex Cuthbert (SEO) Joanne Parker (Editor) Abbie Kirwan (Editor) Lucy Marshall (Producer) James Gorman (Editor) Neil Bauckman (Editor) Tarryn Paul (Producer) Chris Chapman (Editor) Gayanne Potter (VO) Ryan Taylor (Brand)
Kate Hallworth (Copy) Natalie Chisholm (VO) Kenny Blythe (VO) Paul Brown (VO) Tony Collins Fogarty (VO) Wayney Menezes (Editor) Emma Young (VO) Without your skill and generosity, this would not have been possible. You gave up your time for free when you were struggling with lockdown, and many of you lost work, had no support from the government, and some of us even lost our own friends and relatives too. It speaks volumes that you continued to contribute to this despite everything you went through.
The next project
If you, dear reader, and reading this and might be hiring a Producer, an Editor, an VO artist, or a comms professional at any point in the future then please, let this list be your guide. They are the most professional, talented, creative, and committed bunch of people you will ever have the honour to work with.
Visit Videofordistantmemorials.org where you can still find all of their profiles and professional links on the thank you page.
Let's get back to work.