Diary of an L&D filmmaker: The greatest kind of feedback

Over the last few months I have been working on a variety of projects with a fantastic organisation called Brandon Trust, a charity supporting people with learning disabilities to live their lives to the full – and to live the lives they choose.

We have recently finished a fairly sizeable project that is not yet on external release but will be soon, and will be the focus of a case study that I will blog about when the film(s) are released. From an L&D perspective, it will be a great case study, because it is a prime example of how video as a resource for L&D can cross over into marketing, social media, PR, fundraising, and internal comms.

Whilst I’m tempted to write about the film and the incredible people I met during the production, I’ll leave that for the case study. What I wanted to write about here though, is feedback.

Feedback comes in many different forms of course, and in my job, when you’re creating video content for either internal or external purposes, it’s rare to get feedback beyond the people who sign the video off.

This is because everyone else who watches it, does so at home, or on the move on their mobiles, at their desk, or in a training room.

This film was different though, because I had the pleasure of being present at two screenings where Brandon Trust staff, some of the individuals they support (several of whom feature in the film), along with some of their family, came to watch the film together.

One screening took place at The Lighthouse Cinema in Newquay. And the other took place at a Driving up Quality event in Gloucester.

As people watched the film, there was laughter, tears, reflection, and applause amongst the audience, as the stories were told of individuals who are supported by Brandon Trust and also staff members.

For me, this is the greatest form of feedback – and indeed as a filmmaker who is committed to using film to provoke emotional responses in people, the greatest form of payment.

When you work on a film that covers ‘the front line’ of what an organisation does, you are working with people who experience that organisation every day. This is not to say that people become ‘numb’ to the importance of their job (and certainly not the staff at Brandon Trust who I remain in awe of in terms of their passion and commitment to their work); but to say that it becomes part of ‘the everyday’. In the words of a fantastic support worker I interviewed as part of the film, “people just get on with it.”

Not that I think people underestimate the importance of their work, but that for a moment, it is presented in a slightly different way.

Those two days where I sat and watched people watching the film was such a rewarding experience. Every bit of laughter, every time someone wiped the tears from their eyes, filled me with pride. This pride wasn’t so much for my role, but for the people that made it happen – who had the courage to open up and talk about the past on camera, as well as their hopes for the future.

All feedback is healthy – positive feedback is lovely, but when that feedback doesn’t come through words, but laughter, tears, and pensive faces, and when it’s from people who experience ‘the organisation’ every day, that (to me at least) is the best kind of feedback.


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