Tell us about ‘second chance’. Even people who consider themselves open-minded often have a twinge of concern when they hear that someone has been in prison. Ex-offenders are often considered "a bit dodgy", with their CV binned before they even get to an interview. Or, if they don’t mention their past on the application form, they then have to deal with rejection at the interview. The brief was to try to change this behaviour. Or, at the very least, challenge it.
What is the aim of the campaign? We wanted people – especially HR professionals – to confront their prejudice against ex-offenders; to try to make them feel what it’s like for an ex-offender to be rejected in the interview room.
Where did you get the idea for the film? Using and subverting the "skip ad" function gave us the opportunity to fulfil the brief. It felt like a really good fit with the prejudice ex-offenders experience. We’d not seen an idea like this before and were curious how to pull it off. It was a bit of a head-fuck at times.
What initially seemed a very simple thought had many layers – writing and shooting four versions in total to make the idea work for the three potential "skips".
As part of our research, we interviewed inmates in Wandsworth Prison to understand the job application process from their perspective. We also interviewed ex-offenders who are now trying to get work. Once we had a master script, we then started to write the shorter, more urgent ones.
In the film, our ex-offender needed to demonstrate a range of emotions. From growing confidence in the un-skipped version to becoming more and more defeated in the skipped ones. So the casting was crucial. He needed to be able to adapt his performance quickly, but with subtlety and control. If he went too aggressive, we’d lose the audience; too soft, and he appears a victim. The key was empathy.
We were pleased that Blink’s Dougal Wilson agreed to shoot the film. Not only is Dougal brilliant with casting and performance, but he also got involved at the script stage to help develop the idea.
What are you working on next? Freeview, The Co-Operative and Malcolm Venville’s book on Mexico’s oldest living prostitutes.
What inspires you? Just being open to all the madness that modern life holds, which somehow may inform our creative ideas.