Three tricks and tips for creating engaging films.

Discover how Unison Eastern used video to engage its members.

Remember February? I do!

I remember discussing UNISON’s campaign against the Trade Union Bill with the team at our UNISON Essex team away day.

I remember how concerned I and others were that our members – including activists – might not have even heard of it.

And even if they had, did they really understand the momentous negative impact it would have on trade unions, our members, and society?

Trick 1: Identify the problem and get agreement. 

We quickly rechecked our communications strategy, hoping to calm our fears but felt there was a need for something digital – something engaging, something that we could get out widely quickly.

We decided to make a short film – although this time we knew we needed to go big and do everything we could to explain a complicated issue effectively.

So, plan agreed but where to start?

First, I called a film maker we’ve used before to get a quote and to see when he was next available. Wally, from Flipside Productions, said it could get the whole thing done for £1,000.

Time for me to make my bid to the FDO committee. Thankfully, our application was accepted and I was free to commission the film – but here came the difficult part!

Trick 2: Find someone that your audience will love. 

Our next challenge was to find someone to appear in the film who members could relate to and recognise. Time to trawl the internet. A list was made and begging emails went to agents.

A few days later, John O’Farrell came back to me personally and said he was willing to film for a day for free!

If you don’t know John, he has been a writer for Spitting Image and Have I Got News for You and has published many novels.

Trick 3: Simplify the script and share the solution. 

Now we needed to decide what John was actually saying on camera. We had to show what unions (and in particular UNISON) have achieved so far, why we still need unions to campaign against social inequality and how the Trade Union Bill would undermine this. Together with John, and after some statistical hunting, a script was starting to take shape and filming could start.

Next, Wally from film agency created a rough cut of the film and sent it to the animator.

They created some fantastic animations to underpin the statistical element of the film, making it much clearer and keeping the viewer’s interest.

This process took some time to complete.

At the same time, the Bill went back to the House of Commons and went through very quickly, including all the amendments made in the House of Lords. This meant that the majority of the introduction and conclusion of the film were no longer relevant, since there was no longer a bill to campaign against!

The purpose of the film had to be changed. Luckily, the film still carried the fundamental message of what we are all about and so it was released shortly after National Delegates Conference.

You can watch the film by clicking the image above.


About Emma Aboubaker.

Emma is Area Organiser in UNISON’s Essex Team.