What do you do when you're an ad agency creative that suddenly finds yourself with more free time than you ever thought possible? If you're Wunderman Thompson producer, Henry Wiltshire, you film a beautiful tribute to the NHS.
Teaming up with industry friends, Luke Nutt and Mike Rodgers, the trio worked together virtually to capture on film what the city feels like during the coronavirus lockdown and how our eerily silent streets belie the life and death experiences taking place in our hospitals.
The film opens with beautiful images of familiar London sights, strangely still, accompanied by the opening bars of London Grammar's Hell to the Liars and a poetic script by Mike and Luke, narrated by Rizzle Kick's Harley Alexander-Sule (also a friend of Henry and Luke). It then cuts to NHS doctor Dr Anna Kunnenkeril, who tells us how life will never be the same again and how she and her colleagues find themselves overwhelmed emotionally and physically by the relentless demands they face. We also see hard-hitting images of medical staff left bruised by masks.
The mood then lightens to one of celebration, as we see the incredible support for the NHS via moments from the UK's Thursday evening communal outpouring of thanks. The beautiful final sequence shows Harley's son painting a rainbow for the NHS.
"Making a film in a city under lockdown is unlike anything we've done before," says Henry. "We're Londoners born and bred, so the sight of the Capital's silent streets left an indelible impression, and the film's opening dream-like scenes convey just how surreal these times are."
Interestingly, all production was virtual, i.e. no director or producer were physically on location. "I used my experience and contacts to facilitate a remote way of working. We reached out to director and producer colleagues with a brief to shoot scenes from their homes and local areas while on their daily walks – all footage captured on phones."
The teams' families were brought in as fantastic untrained actors to participate in front of the camera, and the public contributed other footage.