Who Pays the Price? Behind the Video Marketing Campaign
We were approached by Barrow-in-Furness’ Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership to create an online video marketing campaign that would educate adults about the consequences of giving alcohol to underage teenagers. A problem that is made worse because of the holiday season.
We outlined four video episodes, each showing a possible consequence of a typical ‘proxy sale’, that would be published once a week over December and January. The problem common to each video was how to ensure that the message of the video would end with the proxy sale when it is the first thing to happen in the chain of events.
This was complicated by our research that found campaigns that had a strong emotional ending were not as effective as those that posed a question at the end.
So we decided to tell the story in reverse. The video would kick off with the consequence, a compelling moment of drama that would pose a question of ‘how did this happen?’ To drive home the message we decided to ensure that the adult who provided the alcohol in the first place was present for the consequence. Rather than preach a message we decided to simply focus on an expression of guilt/ uncertainty that would match between the opening shot and the end shot.
The One With The Sex
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and this can have health consequences beyond the effect of the alcohol itself. In this video we wanted to look at the consequence of a young girl being provided alcohol by her mother, in an effort to control what she is drinking and having unprotected sex at a party.
The mentality behind this is “they are going to drink anyway, better to know what they are drinking”. Unfortunately if more than one parent does this the teenagers can often end up with a lot of booze!
The Video Marketing Script
We first created a timeline in the right order. When messing with narrative order its always best to do this first.
- Girls are getting ready for a party, the mother enters and gives her daughter some vodka with an instruction to ‘not tell your Dad’. This was added to show that the mother knew she was doing something ‘not quite right’. The scene ended with her expression of uncertainty as to where this will lead.
- The girls arrive at a party where there is already a lot of alcohol. There is a cross over here with other episodes.
- The daughter creates a cocktail with her vodka, offering it to her friends.
- The daughter shares the cocktail with a boy she meets at the party. They flirt
- The boy leaves a bedroom where the daughter is left in bed looking fragile and vulnerable
- The next day the daughter takes a pregnancy test, with her mother looking on. We discussed whether the test should be positive or not. In the end we felt rather than suggest ‘drink alcohol, get pregnant’ we wanted to focus on the fact of unprotected sex. The mother’s expression when first watched would come across as disappointment but by the end, the viewer realises the expression is actually guilt.
We then put the scenes in reverse order.
We ensured that the young actor and her mother was happy with her portraying the subject matter. We first shot the party scenes. The most memorable moment here was the flirting between the daughter and the boy. This was completely improvised and all credit has to go to the actors. I only gave a little direction and guiding suggestions. We ensured we shot this a lot longer than we needed, letting the actors build the scene themselves. We did a few takes but the first one was good enough to use!
Some of the lines were great! So great that the rest of the crew and cast off camera had to stop themselves from giggling and spoil the take
We then shot the getting ready scenes where the mother handed over the vodka. This was done purely for logistics as any other way would mean having the young actor playing the daughter to have to remove her make up and then reapply.
The next element we filmed was the aftermath of the sex scene. We wanted this to be powerful but we didn’t want the young actors uncomfortable or upset by the subject matter. I gave direction to each of the actors individually in private, confirming they were happy and comfortable. The young actor who played the daughter was made aware that she was in control of this scene and that we would stop anytime she wanted.
We shot as quickly as possible (without compromising what we needed) and I have to say I was a little uncomfortable with the way the scene plays out. Which was a good thing as this is what needed to come across on camera. There was to be no romance in this moment.
Finally we shot the pregnancy test scene, after making sure that logos were carefully concealed, we ran through the scene covering the daughter and then the mother and then the all important expression.
We played with several ways of doing this. Having the mother walk into shot, having the mother look away when the daughter looks at her. We ended up keeping it as simple as possible and were very happy with the results.
Editing the footage was fairly simple as it was a case of constructing the scenes we had planned out and tightening them up to flow together well. This episode in particular was a joy to edit as the actors had provided so much great material.
The only problem we had was choosing exactly what part of the ‘flirting scene’ to use. They were all so good!
In order to ensure that the narrative was understood to be running backwards we used a visual and audio technique.
Visually where the scene move backwards and there could be some confusion we used an ‘Additive Dissolve’. This is where the white in the scene flares up before dissolving into the next scene, coupled with this was a rushing sound effect to convey the movement.
In any edit the golden rule is ‘ears before eyes’. Because of the way our two sensory organs work it is better to bleed in a little sound before making a cut, this helps blend the two scenes together and prevent it from being ‘choppy’. With these episodes, where appropriate, we ensured that the sound overlapped to a great extent to the degree that it almost overtakes the final moments.
An example of this can be seen at 00:14, where the flirting dialogue comes in just as the boy leaves. The fact that he is asking ‘Anyone in this particular room?’ makes the scene even more uncomfortable to watch and neatly transitions us back in time.