Ewan Fletcher is a Videographer with Enterprise Screen. Over the past few weeks he has worked with some serious and sensitive subject matters. He discusses our approach to very difficult subjects and delivering high quality videos for our clients.
Here at Enterprise Screen we frequently have to work with clients to produce video material about difficult or sensitive subject matters. A challenge we often face is the need to tell a difficult or hard-hitting, story.
A recent series of videos and e-learning films produced for the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Child Protection Unit covers the subject of the sexual exploitation of children. This video was comprised mostly of interviews with key health professionals. However, it is always necessary to strike a balance between talking heads and more expressive, engaging visuals. The problem in this case was making interesting visuals to illustrate the issue of sexual exploitation without transgressing all boundaries of taste and decency. It was important to ensure that the audience found their learning experience enhanced with video and that the information from professionals was illustrated appropriately.
We have discovered that the solution to this complex problem is to develop imagery that is abstract but still works to illuminate the subject matter. It has been used across a range of subject matters in recent months and we have found that while it requires careful planning, it can allow these videos to develop into impressive and visually interesting pieces. For example we picked visual motifs to illustrate the following ideas:
· The initiation of a seemingly positive and healthy relationship: close ups on hands, bathed in sunlight.
· A young person frightened of speaking to medical professionals about the exploitative situation they have found themselves in: fidgeting hands, folded arms, fingers, nervously gripping a handbag.
· Dependency of the exploited individual upon their exploiter: the passing over of money, cash on a table.
The selection of music is also important, and has a huge impact on the tone of the video. The music we chose obviously had to have an element of darkness to tie in with the videos difficult subject matter. However, once again there was a balance to be found; we discovered that selecting overly dark or depressing music actually lessened the videos overall impact and provoked an involuntary withdrawal from communication. By overemphasising the horrible nature of the subject matter the video became manipulative and ultimately rather melodramatic. Instead we selected a track which still played in a minor key, but had a light slightly "twinkly" element which served to evoke a sense of childhood innocence.
Through the careful selection of abstract imagery and appropriate music we were able to emphasise and illustrate the interviews we had conducted with the health professionals. Ultimately we produced a video that told a difficult story with clarity and impact.