Never Too Early To Get Help
It’s never too early or too late to get help
We were asked to produce two 30 second TV commercials and campaign photography for a joint project between Shelter Cymru and the Welsh Government. Cardiff and Bristol-based advertising agency SBW came to us with two concepts highlighting how someone could easily find themselves homeless and how they could reach out to Shelter Cymru for help. The commercials were to have a documentary feel to heighten the sense of realism.
The two commercials feature characters who, after becoming homeless, seek help from Shelter Cymru. Alan’s Story features a man who lost his home after being made redundant. Sarah’s Story features a woman and her daughter who became homeless after suffering domestic abuse. The storyboard showed the pair moving from house to house after Sarah was bombarded with abusive text messages from her partner. The idea was to then rewind to an earlier point in the video and story, ‘intervening’ before things went too far downhill for Sarah. At this point she calls Shelter Cymru instead of letting her housing situation get out of hand and the pair move into a new home.
We shot everything handheld to help add to the documentary feel and used multiple locations to give a sense that Sarah was constantly moving around. We loved SBW’s storyboard, but our first challenge was to think of a way to show the film rewinding without being cheesy – queue Benny Hill music. So we tweaked the storyboard to include specific scenes that would look good once playing backwards and that would make it clear that the film was rewinding. One of these scenes involved Sarah getting upset and shedding a single tear, which would then roll back up her cheek in reverse – easier said than done!
With this scene we learned that shedding a single, movie-worthy tear is a big ask for an actor. Fortunately, our hair and makeup artist was able to source eye drops that did most of the hard work, but the challenge then was to get the perfect tear – not a raging torrent, but something big enough – and at the right speed. For such a short scene, it took a while to get right, but it was worth the effort – it worked perfectly, in both directions.
As this was a bilingual campaign, we made two versions of each commercial: one in Welsh and one in English. Overall we feel the commercials are emotionally impactful and do what we set out to do. SBW, Shelter Cymru and the Welsh Government were all happy with the results.
Please also check out Alan’s Story, the other film in this series.