Creating Dementia Friends for TV cast and crew

Dementia Friends Champion Dara Brown went along to the filming of Alzheimer’s Society’s new TV advert and delivered a Dementia Friends Information Session for the cast and crew. Here she tells us about her experience:

When I got a call out of the blue last week, asking if I would like the opportunity to see the Alzheimer’s Society’s new advertising campaign come together, I jumped at the chance. With behind-the-scenes access on the final day of filming, I was able to see exactly how a television advert is put together and it was not at all what I was expecting!

Dara playing Dementia Friends bingo with the film crew

A couple of days before filming started, I visited advertising agency Fallon’s Central London office to give a Dementia Friends Session to a group of twenty-five Fallon and Pulse Films representatives, including the production team for the upcoming shoot. Despite a small hiccup when it was discovered a good chunk of the group didn’t know how to play Bingo (and the resulting outrage from several others!) the session ran smoothly. By the end, everyone had come up with some great ideas about how to turn their understanding into action, including thinking about how their future advertising campaigns could be adapted to support people living with dementia.

With the film crew signed up as Dementia Friends we were ready for the shoot.

Arriving on set, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes; outside what appeared to be an ordinary North London terraced house was a huge amount of equipment, from generators and scaffolding to huge lights shining artificial daylight through the windows. As I made my way into the house, I realised that there was just as much equipment (if not more!) squeezed into every room. Filming was taking place in the dining room, which had been redecorated for the shoot, and I took a seat in the kitchen where a small screen had been set up to show exactly what was being filmed.

Before now I had never really considered how long it would take to film a 30 second advert, but the level of detail the production team were trying to achieve meant that every scene was shot several times to make sure it was perfect. One shot took seven takes and twenty minutes to perfect, and it simply involved the grandfather turning his head to look around the dining table!

I was amazed at the number of people required to make everything happen- crammed into this family home were over fifty cast and crew, all busy getting on with their jobs. Every couple of minutes an order of ‘Quiet Please!’ was shouted out and everybody would fall silent and still while a scene was shot.

In between scenes, I got the chance to talk to the cast about the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friends. We left the house and walked half way down the street in order to speak, so that we didn’t distract those inside who were still filming. We started with the basics, covering Dementia Friends five key messages, before moving onto the bookcase analogy and answering their questions. Some of the actors had personal experience of dementia, and I was touched that they wanted to share these with the group.

Talking to the people on set, I really got a feel for the level of work that went into this advert. Months of research and planning took place before filming, and after everything was wrapped up, it would take weeks of editing to completely finish.

It was a brilliant experience, experiencing what really goes into the making of a campaign like this and I’m looking forward to seeing the final advert, both on television and online.

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