In a nutshell
The creative agency The House approached us to collaborate with them on a film for the Devon-based Rowcroft Hospice. The House have been working with Rowcroft for some time to develop their message and required a film that could be used by Rowcroft to help both raise awareness of the work the hospice does, and strengthen their fund-raising.
We have collaborated with The House on a number of previous projects, so we were able to work closely with the team to develop the film concept. Integral to the messaging was a focus on positivity – live life every day – and not on negative images and feelings sometimes associated with hospices.
In order to make the film, Rowcroft first needed to raise the funds. To help this we worked with The House to make a very rough Potential Donors film, using images from Rowcroft and stock library stills and based around the Louis Armstrong version of the song ‘What A Wonderful World’. This cut was used also used to show hospice staff our approach and to ease any concerns they had about the portrayal of their hospice.
Through this Potential Donors film stakeholders became very positive about the film concept and Rowcroft secured the funds needed for full production to start. What also became apparent is the emotive Louis Armstrong track was key to the success of the rough film, and so a licence was secured so we could use this on the final film.
Working with The House and Rowcroft, we used the music to drive the storyboarding process so we could focus on key moments in the song and bring them to life in the film. The film needed to connect with the audience at a deep and personal level, but without sentimentality. The audience should come away with an understanding of the work and uniqueness of Rowcroft Hospice, but also a profound sense of the wonder of life. The film had to work on the cinema screen as well as in a compressed format for social media, and drive traffic to the Hospice’s fundraising page from as many different sources as possible. With this in mind at concept stage we were able to make these format considerations up front in planning the shooting style.
The process of filmmaking is always incredibly important to us, and our approach unique to each production. In the case of Rowcroft, many patients there are at the end of their lives and the staff were naturally concerned about the idea of a camera crew they don’t know coming into that environment. It was essential that the first thing we did was meet with all the staff and talk about the way we work, our participatory background and how we would approach filming with people who were at their most vulnerable. The relationship and trust that we built with the staff was hugely helpful as it gave us the access and support we needed to produce the film they were happy with.
We knew the types of images that we wanted and used documentary film techniques and shooting style, so while we set some scenes were set up such as the outpatients and the art room, most of the footage of the patients was shot as it happened on the ward. The most important aspect was to ensure that the patients featured in the film and their families were comfortable with us shooting.
To ensure this we spoke to everyone before filming, we ensured we chatted through the very specific release forms with the patients and their families and we spoke about why Rowcroft is such a special place.
The final film is full of light and hope. It’s a powerful communication tool and clearly shows the value of the work of Rowcroft to potential donors. It’s moving without being sentimental and is true to The House’s original vision. It’s been viewed countless times on Facebook and Rowcroft’s website and on cinema screens within the region. Rowcroft’s marketing team are clear that it’s been an effective tool in generating new donations and they see it working for them for a long time.
We’d like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the patients at Rowcroft who were willing to share some of their final days with us. It was an immense privilege.
Click here to view the film – Rowcroft Hospice.