First and foremost, before I get into this blog, I’d like to let you know that you can use the Covid-19 Diaries videos on YouTube for free in the format they currently exist for internal presentations. And, we’re already making short themed edits (including previously unused footage) for our channels and your insight.
Go to our YouTube for themed edits on the below (more to come!).
Now, without further ado, here’s my look at the last two weeks working in close collaboration with our video diary participants who recorded their lives across the COVID-19 lockdown. When we released the final instalment last week, one of the participants told me that the experience had been “a real journey” – and I couldn’t agree more…
For almost 2 months, our diarists filmed areas of their lives to show us how they were adapting as their worlds were changing. They shared challenges they were faced with and gave honest views and opinions. They shared their highlights and worries. So before this piece goes any further – a huge thank you to, Ellie, Elena, Shomari, Emily, Zoë and Billy. We are so grateful for the openness, insight and enthusiasm you showed when recording your lives through such a pivotal and difficult time. A huge thanks to Pete, too – our creative director who had the tricky task of choosing from all the incredible footage to create the weekly edits.
I was blown away by everyone’s willingness and enthusiasm to address serious issues and open up their inner lives
From the very beginning, the diarists didn’t hold back from sharing pressing and relevant issues; jobs lost, lack of PPE, households waiting on universal credit. Together they revealed just some of the impactful nationwide consequences. In order to get relatable and insightful content, I spoke individually with the diarists each week to define relevant areas to show. This required sensitivity and of course a solid rapport with everyone involved. But I was blown away by everyone’s willingness and enthusiasm to address serious issues and open up their inner lives. See this short clip to see some of the more serious insights of the series…
Creativity and hobbies
During the peak of the lockdown we all experienced periods of stagnation, stillness and waiting. This was palpable when talking with the diarists week to week – a sense that nothing was changing because restrictions couldn’t be eased. While Emily, our London nurse, was busy with extra night shifts and swapping wards, others were left to make things to do for themselves when their working life was suspended (and every series on Netflix watched until the end). It was a hard slog, but the videos show clear moments of creativity and fulfillment as diarists bought new board games, opened their recipe books and made music! Watch the short clip below to see some of their inventive hobbies…
At the beginning of this year, who could have predicted that our collective approach to previously negligible activities in public spaces would shift from fear to gratuity so enormously?
Being in touch with the diarists across the weeks, I heard about their thoughts, feelings and situations before seeing them unravel and change in the video diaries they shared each week. I really felt for Elena who is based in Barcelona. She explained that their lockdown has been more stringent than the UK’s. During the most strict stage, the UK was allowed one hour of daily exercise outdoors… but this was not the case in Spain, even until after filming ended by which time people in the UK were allowed unlimited time outdoors and were even able to meet another person. Meanwhile, for the UK diarists, the exceptionally warm Spring weather throughout and very hot spell towards the final weeks of filming clearly had a huge effect on the mood of the diarists (and the nation!) as well as their activities.
Initially, the footage from UK diarists notably showed a turbulent relationship with the outside world. At times, being outdoors was a place of grim uncertainty which required protection or even judgement. We see diarists weighing up whether there are too many people in their local park and anxiously queueing for the supermarket for the first time wearing protective accessories.
Many cautiously found safe ways to spend time outside – namely running in park or spending time in a garden if they were lucky enough to have one. But public anxiety eased and the video diaries reflected that. Suddenly our diarists seemed more carefree and chatty on their jogs, walks in the park and less essential trips to the shops. Eventually, uncertainty transformed into pure excitement as lockdown eased and diarists had the freedom to get a latte from the coffee shop or enjoy extended time outside. At the beginning of this year, who could have predicted that our collective approach to previously negligible activities in public spaces would shift from fear to gratuity so enormously? By the very nature of being a real-time video project with personal insights, I’m proud that our series charts this unexpected change.
Releasing the last episode really felt like the end-of-an-era. The diarists all told me they were glad to have taken part, others said they felt it was important, that it was enjoyable and that it even helped some of them through the strange time.
I strongly believe in the strength of humanity’s empathy and that when a society is going through a challenging or pivotal time, people will feel it’s important to share their experiences and connect to others. The video diary format alone holds a huge amount of potential to explore and record personal experiences, and when edited all together, are able to show the wider experiences of a community. The series is finished and tells only a fraction of the lockdown experience, but hopefully, it connects and resonates with many.
How can you use the content?
Clients may use the videos free of charge for internal presentations in the format they currently exist. We’re already making short themed edits (including previously unused footage) for our channels and your insight.
Go to our YouTube for themed edits on:
We’re also working on short edits for client presentations for a small fee and we’re happy to talk about creating bespoke client films made from the used and unseen footage, too.
Looking to the future, we may interview the diarists to get a reflective look on their experience and create a longer documentary-style piece. And we hope to cover other areas with video diaries, too.