Chasing the Stigma of mental health with Network Rail and Great Guns - #BehindTheIdea

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Train stations are sadly quite notorious as one of the most tragically popular locations where people decide to commit suicide.

As the main operator in these spaces, Network Rail had the chance to address the issue by offering hope and help, at a time when they are needed the most. Following a partnership with mental health charity Chasing the Stigma, Network Rail turned to Great Guns to craft a beautiful film on hope and optimism, addressing mental health with both delicacy and incredible mastery.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea following an inspiring chat with Great Guns Director Duncan Christie, to learn more about the video campaign below.

What was the brief?

To inspire a conversation around mental health and to encourage people to reach out and ask for help if they need it. Tragically hundreds of people commit suicide every year at train stations, Network Rail partnered with the charity Chasing The Stigma to try and fight this. 


How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

The intention was to create a contrast between the hopeful moments we observe in the station generally and the main performance from our hero character, which is at odds with everything else. Not every scene needed to be a big moment, we needed that balance of real life and hope. This was a balancing act, if we weren't subtle enough this might start to feel disingenuous but if we were too subtle the idea wouldn't come across. 

Obviously one of the big points of discussion was whether the characters should be wearing masks or not. In the end everyone agreed that there was really no option but to have everyone wearing masks. We always knew sound design would be key but the lines of dialogue, which weren't scripted, become a key tool in telling the story.


Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

We set out to create moments that feel simple yet powerful. We didn't want the scenes to become overly complex and thus feel constructed, small acts of kindness can mean a lot especially when they're coming from a stranger.

We wanted to create a hopeful and life-affirming film that would address mental health without triggering those suffering from these issue, therefore a lightness of touch was required. 


What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges was telling this performance driven story with the characters all wearing masks. We wanted this to feel very real and grounded so we all agreed masks were the right way to go, that’s the world we live in right now.  In the end it’s amazing to see how much emotion can be conveyed through just the eyes, the incidental lines of dialogue were also a key tool in telling this story. 


What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

There is always hope. I don’t think there could be a more resonant message right now. The last year has been a dark time for so many people but we all need to remember that we will come out the other side of this. Kindness is more important now than ever, to ourselves and those around us. 


What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

I hope the film will encourage people to reach out for help if they need it and to be mindful of their own mental health. The stigma around mental health is still strong, and I hope we can play a small part in helping Chasing The Stigma achieve their aims. I hope the film also shows how small acts of kindness can mean so much to someone who is going through a hard time. 


Credit list for the campaign?

Client: Network Rail 
Senior Media Campaigns Manager: Lucy Jones, Lisa Russell

Agency: Ardmore 
Executive Creative Director: Paul Bowen
Director: Chris Powell
Account Director: Hannah Maxwell Smyth
Account Manager: Chris Sloan

Production Company: Great Guns 
Director: Duncan Christie
Casting Director: Kharmel Cochrane
On Set Co-Director: Calum Macdiarmid
DOP: Sy Turnbull, Joe Cook
Editor: David Warren @ Nomad 
Grade: Matt Turner @ Absolute
Sound Design: Sean Mahoney @ Jungle
Composer: Zebedee Budworth


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