A heartwarming end to 2020, supporting a local family business.
As I looked to book-end 2020, I was watching over the projects we'd been lucky enough to shoot since January and a few things immediately stood out. The first, most obvious spot, was that there was much less output as a result of the pandemic that's still causing chaos and great upset in the UK and much of the world.
Despite working far less than I'd have liked to, I'm still proud of the videos Absorb Films created for our clients, in safe and secure surroundings in and around national lockdowns. There may have been less front facing work to promote but I really feel we upped our game production wise on every shoot.
During the first lockdown I noticed a shift in the content I was seeing online and on television. Many big organisations and companies put a stop to their usual product marketing and decided to celebrate the people that keep them going. We saw major supermarket chains using self-shot phone footage of their staff working on the front line to serve the public. I found myself not fast-forwarding ad breaks as I genuinely found the stories that we were now being told more interesting than the usual glitzy more straightforward commercials. The eye catching and cinematic ads will always have their place, but from our own projects this year I've noticed more than ever that stories and people that connect with audiences the most.
I felt like there had to be something worth celebrating and documenting before the year was over and during a daily family Facetime it clicked. For my Uncle Russ, 2020 had been one of his busiest times as a greengrocer, certainly in the past few years. The support he has had from his customers, old and new, was fantastic to see and I decided I would follow him for 24 hours and create a mini-documentary.
Russ has been a greengrocer in south-east Essex for the past 35 years. He clearly loves serving the public and has customers dating back to the 1980s who still buy their fruit and veg from him and come down for their weekly chat. I myself had my first evening shift working at his shop, stocking the displays and sweeping up after school. It was the only job I had before becoming a freelance filmmaker and then founding Absorb Films.
Sidebar: I clumsily dropped a big box of Rossi Ice cream tubs down the back steps of his shop in Leigh-On-Sea. My Uncle didn't fret over the voided tubs, but I went home embarassed, arms full of busted up mint choc chip.
In late November, I got down to the shop around midday and starting rolling. It didn't occur to me just how long my Uncle's day's were and I didn't sleep until 9pm the next day. I filmed his routine of serving customers, checking stock, closing shop and then heading to market around midnight. I stopped him a few times to be interviewed and then he ordered all the produce, put it in the van and drove back to the shop for 6am, ready to open an hour later.
I think it's fairly easy to forget that people like my Uncle are working through the night, continuously serving the community during the pandemic. I was exhausted after shooting for that long and I wasn't the one hulking pallets of fruit around, I think maybe the Ice cream incident of 2009 scared my Uncle off...
The reaction to the video was incredible, we didn't try to sell you anything, no offers on Gala Apples to be seen. It was just a simple cinematic profile on a member of the community and got the best engagement on our social media channels out of all of the projects in 2020. The amount of comments, likes and shares across the local area was staggering and we got his small Facebook page to 13,000 views over the weekend.
It boosted footfall and buzz around my Uncle's shop over the Christmas period and a lot of people felt encouraged to support their local businesses, the independents who needed their custom the most. It was a nice reminder to myself also, that the passion projects, with no budget or expectations are often the kind that are seen and appreciated the most.
Going into 2021, steering Absorb Films out of a tricky year, we'll be back supporting businesses big and small with our high quality, creative content and pushing for an emphasis on the people, their stories and why we should invest in their brand or business on a personal level and not just with our wallets.
You can check out our mini-doc here.
Stay safe everyone!