Telling the full story of benefit changes

Mainstream media has shown very little interest in covering the coming changes to benefits and the impact that this will have. There is an occasional segment on TV news and a few more newspaper articles but even after two years of campaigning few people realise what is actually happening. The common reaction is disbelief and accusations of scaremongering and exaggeration.

My idea is to create an hour long documentary film using all the professional tricks to make it compelling and informative so that it conveys the full impact of the changes hitting people who live on benefits, whether unemployed, disabled or low-income. It would use personal stories, graphics, commentary, interviews and music to tell the story. The film does not have to convey a political message, only the reality of the changes. Any positive changes that can be found should be included too. I believe that even if made as unbiased as possible the film will be devastating in its message.

To get mainstream appeal the film could be narrated by and feature interviews with celebrities, with well-known paralympians potentially being the best choice but others too.

While a spot on television would be the ideal, these days a film on YouTube can get millions of views – potentially more than would see on TV. An online campaign using very short clips and hashtags could attract viewers. To raise the chances of it being seen on TV a ten minute version could be made using materials from the full version and sent to TV stations everywhere.

I’ve noted some of the steps that I think will be required. They’re not necessarily in any particular order.

  • Find a suitable name and some introductory branding
  • Create a website for the film
  • Crowdsource a list of all benefit cuts, eligibility reductions, care and service cuts and the impact of all this.
  • Start an awareness campaign on social media to get people involved.
  • Ask people to submit short clips through Vine and YouTube telling their stories and what they expect to happen. Clips can be recorded with smartphones or webcams. Gather these clips under a hashtag on twitter.
  • Raise funds through donations  for travelling to record interviews.
  • Interested parties meet to discuss content. Further meetings where appropriate in later steps.
  • Record interviews with celebs.
  • Follow up personal stories for better recordings.
  • Create graphics and animations to explain the changes.
  • Edit together a draft version of the film.
  • Record narration of the changes.
  • Create transcripts and subtitles.
  • Meet up physically and make a final version of the film.

This is all very much at the ideas stage, please comment with your views, suggestions, offers of help etc. Lets make this happen!

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

20 thoughts on “Telling the full story of benefit changes”

  1. Do you need to think of a time frame in which it all needs to happen, to make the content still relevant when it’s done? Not that the impact will be any less relevant to anyone further down the line, but a ‘this is happening NOW’ vibe is good

    1. This is a difficult question. I think there are two goals here and they’re not entirely compatible. One is to give a warning and catalyse people for action, the other is to document events for history.

  2. I’m quite good at film editing (film school, good software, etc) but it would be a bit of a strain for everyone getting large files past the great firewall. If you want anyone to take a look at an edit, give some tips etc, I’d always be up for that.

  3. I may be wrong, but…

    I think for maximum impact, it should be a five minute film and it should star a (visibly) disabled child and their family – but in a way that, while it’s clear this is the child’s true story, it is also 100% clear that this is the story of many.

    The narrative must be that this person is a striver, a do-er, against the odds. They’re not looking for sympathy, they’re not looking to be a hero – they just don’t want money taking away from them, money without which their life will be impossible. You might also mention what a small proportion of people’s income tax gets spent on helping disabled children, and disabled people in general.

    That’s if you want to take people who don’t care, or actively disagree with you, get them to watch the film on YouTube, and change their minds.

    The longer the film, the greater the range of people you include, the more you include messages that would appeal to _you_, then the more you’ll be preaching to the choir.

    I may be totally wrong about the above, but the point I’m trying to make is this: Remember the Yes2AV campaign. It worked so hard to convince the people who were already nearly convinced, and never once thought about how to convince people who were natural supporters of the No campaign. Think about the messages that will hit home with the people who disagree with you, not the ones who agree with you.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Although I do agree about having a visually disabled child as one comment said I think it’s important to highlight children/adults who have ‘hidden’ disabilities as these are even more at risk and more people think you’re a fake.

  5. I think an hour might be a bit too long to hold peoples’ attention; half an hour would probably be better and would ensure that everything it says is to the point

  6. I think it’s good to consider different formats.

    Shorter puncher clips, maybe even 2-3 mins, then longer 15 mins ones and finally about 45 minutes (the average person’s attention span) to have the most impact.

    That could be achieved either by doing parallel productions, or more sensibly, taking the best from a longer production and cutting it into smaller bits, like a film trailer.

    The end object is to make an impact, so trying different formats, which appeal to different people on different technologies (TV, tablets, phones, etc) is worth a thought.

  7. lol why do immigrants come and work here when we have UK citizens unemployed? maybe someone could explain that pls

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