Addressing Socio-Cultural Issues Through Film
We’re sure you’re familiar with the saying,
‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
Now, who knows who actually coined it? Maybe it wasn’t Aristotle… or maybe it was after all! We’ll let others debate that.
The fact is that we think it’s a great saying, and it reflects an ethos that we at Team Edge try to live by every day.
We take enormous pride in being a diverse team made up of people from all walks of life the world over. We started out in London and now we’re an international company with bases in 4 different continents – it’s been quite the journey.
Walking the Walk
It gives all of us fresh insight into different perspectives, different backgrounds, and the opportunity to learn about and connect with communities we may not have had the chance to connect with otherwise.
We’re in no doubt that we’ve become the successful outfit we are today because of every person who’s been part of our team, whether it was for a week, the full thirty years, or somewhere in between.
It all means we care about a lot of issues because, as the Musketeers would say, all for one and one for all. We humans are a social bunch by nature, better together than apart – and what affects one in our community matters to us all, as we think it always should be.
It’s why we pushed ourselves to become the first film company to achieve PAS2060 Carbon Neutral accreditation back in 2013 – we want to do what we can to minimise our impact on the planet in our day-to-day activities.
It’s why we’re firm supporters of movements such as Black Lives Matter and the push for gender equality – the world we live in is not equal, and we want to vocal and active in supporting movements that seek to change the playing field for the better for everyone.
It’s why we work tirelessly to ensure we’re a responsible employer whose ethos and policies recognise the individuality of every person in our team and seeks to make everyone feel welcome, safe, and accepted in who they are.
Expertise in Socio-Cultural Issues
With that in mind, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that this ethos helps inform us in how we approach making films that address important socio-cultural issues across society around the world.
When we work on projects that require a necessary amount of sensitivity and care, we draw on our own insights and understanding of the situations where possible, as well as that of the client and of our own people who have relevant personal experiences or are from communities concerned.
We’ve worked with public sector bodies, charities, NGOs, and community groups around the world on films and projects that deal with difficult subject matter in a sensitive but powerful manner.
A great example of this is our expertise in helping our clients challenge stigma around male mental health – and you can find out more here.
Our Work in Action
We worked with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance to produce our award-winning documentary, ‘Someone’s Mother, Someone’s Brother’. It explored the lives and experiences of two people living with HIV and how the Alliance’s work has supported them, and it continues to be used by advocacy groups around the world.
Another good example is our work with Help the Hospices in the UK. A project which required us to deal with sensitive, difficult subject matter, we sought to present the hospice story in a way that struck a delicate balance, uplifting the audience without trivialising the circumstances and conditions of hospice residents.
We also recently delivered a TVC for the Government Communications Office of Qatar to help raise awareness of dangerous driving across the country and the devastating impact that such accidents have far beyond those immediately involved. We drew on our knowledge of Qatari society and culture to develop a piece that was sensitive yet powerful, something that should resonate with the target audience.
These are just a handful of examples in this space that we’re incredibly proud of, both in terms of the way we went about approaching tough subjects and how they’ve all been received, but perhaps one of the most powerful projects we’ve delivered is our 2-part series for the NHS, ‘Finding Patience’ – so we want to take the opportunity to discuss it in more depth…
Addressing Dementia in the Black community : Finding Patience
Unfortunately, there’s a limited awareness of dementia within Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic communities in the UK which leads to low numbers of people accessing dementia support services. There’s a plethora of reasons which have led to this; each community is different, and within each community, views and traditions also differ again.
The unfortunate common thread is higher levels of stigma around the issue within these communities due to many different, complex socio-cultural issues.
As one example, within one British-Chinese community, ‘negative perceptions of dementia resulted from poorly-translated terms which give dementia the meaning of ‘lost intelligence disease’.
The sad consequence is that there are greater barriers that make it more difficult for people within Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic communities in the UK communities to seek help. It means that the onset of dementia strikes earlier – and the speed of decline is far more acute.
To try and change the situation for the better, Health Education England established a wide-ranging response to help address the issue, including the production of two films to help raise awareness in a powerful, emotional way – which is where we came in.
Delivering Change through Film
Why film? It’s a great leveller – virtually everyone can relate to it as a medium, and it sticks in our brains. It’s brilliant at building familiarity and trust in an audience: you’re able to present situations that feel authentic and realistic, so the audience’s energy isn’t wasted trying to believe the premise before it can engage with the key messages.
In this respect, it was the ideal tool to help deal with such a difficult subject. It allowed us to present the perspectives of both a dementia sufferer and that of their family, showing symptoms and situations
You can read more about why film is a great medium for delivering learning and promoting change here.
As a result of HEE’s research, it was decided that the film’s story should focus on an older British Afro-Caribbean woman and her family.
We needed both films to tell a unified, compelling story that would feel real to the audience, so we drew on the experiences of Edge people from the Black community. With their input, we could ensure that we developed and presented realistic characters, environment, cultural nuances, and language to make the story feel genuine and believable.
The first film, ‘Finding Patience’, works as a traditional drama focusing on our main character (Patience) and how both her and her family come to terms with her dementia, realise they need help, and how they find it through the NHS.
The second film, ‘The Later Years’, is a docu-drama that serves as a sequel, exploring the challenges faced by care home staff and demonstrates what good quality patient-centred care looks like.
Once the films were complete, press releases were sent out nationally and articles were published on the HEE website, HEE Matters and HEE Connect, as well as social media and comms content prepared for sharing with relevant organisations including the Race Equality Foundation, Culture Dementia UK, Dementia UK, and Alzheimer’s Society.
Upon release, responses to the films were hugely positive.
Finding Patience was screened at a variety of film-related events aimed specifically at Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic communities in London, including one such screening alongside the Oscar-nominated film, ‘I Am Not Your Negro’. It was shown to carers, NHS Trust dementia leads, Hospice & care home managers, charities, universities, and people living with dementia at the 2017 ‘Implementing the Challenge’ conference.
It was met with positive feedback from key stakeholders and health professionals alike, with many requests for a copy of the film for inclusion in local training:
‘I have watched the film, “Finding Patience” and would like to congratulate those involved and all the Dementia team. It is a fabulous film and I think possibly the best dementia resource I have seen so far. I have already forwarded it to my practice, CCG, and to the Chair of the RCGP asking her to disseminate it in her weekly blog.’
Professor Simon Gregory: Regional Director and Director and Dean of Education and Quality, HEE Midlands and East
‘The Later Years’ has also been used widely in care homes across the UK as well as screening at a variety of major events including GovConnect Conference, The Alzheimer’s Show, The Alzheimer’s Society Conference, and the UK Dementia Congress, where over 70% of delegates strongly agreed that the film was useful. It was also shown at the BFI to celebrate 70 years of film-making within the NHS, as well as being screened at the HEE Dementia and Queens Nursing Institute (QNI) conference in June 2017.
As with the first film, responses were very positive:
’Understanding the way that dementia can affect an individual and their families is really important. This film raises awareness of dementia and emphasises the importance of person-centred care, treating residents as individuals and putting the person first, rather than the condition first. Highlighting that with an individual approach you can really transform the care of a person in a care home. Whilst aimed at health care professionals, the strength of the film is such that it could be used by anybody who works, owns or visits a care home. I would recommend everyone involved in the care home sector watch this film.’
Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director of Dementia at NHS England and Old Age Psychiatrist at University of Manchester
’As the number of people in care homes with dementia increases, it’s important that health and care staff are equipped with the skills and knowledge to support individuals to live well with dementia. Dementia affects people in different ways and it’s only by taking the time to understand a person’s background, their preferences, needs and values, that health and care staff will be able to provide person-centred care. Finding Patience: The Later Years promotes and supports this approach.‘
Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Director of Nursing and Deputy Director of Education and Quality at Health Education England
‘In response to Prime Ministers 2020 Challenge, HEE has reported that over 1 million staff in NHS hospitals have received dementia awareness training since 2012 and that there is a sustained growth in more in-depth dementia education and training.” The Finding Patience films are amongst the education and training resources that will have contributed to this success.
Jan Zietara, Head of Operational Delivery, Health Education England, South
As you’d expect, we’re incredibly proud of the ‘Finding Patience’ series. We believe it’s a great example of our filmmaking expertise and our ability to deliver powerful content dealing with difficult socio-cultural subject matter in sensitive, compelling ways.
If you’re looking to create a similar project in this space, please get in touch – we’re here to help.