Siskamedia has produced a short film to show the dangers of texting while driving. The AA launched CADENCE as part of its one-year safe driving campaign to change behaviour to stop text-driving. I’ve asked my fellow University of Derby friend Emmeline Kellie some questions about her latest film production.
What inspired you to produce a short film about text-driving?
When I was in sixth form (7 years ago), I went to a road safety presentation held by Learn2Live in Torquay. It really struck a chord with me and I’ve been wary of dangerous driving ever since. Now, so many of my friends text at the wheel like it’s a normal and socially acceptable thing to do. It’s not. Film is something I’m very passionate about and I thought it’d be a good way to try to get the message across, by inflicting even a fraction of the emotion onto the audience that they’d feel if they lost a loved one in a crash caused by distracted driving.
How can the campaign help people’s perception of texting and driving?
Well, we are trying to change attitudes and behaviours towards text-driving and make them think twice before doing it. The film draws you into the lives of two characters and a couple of huge life-changing decisions they need to make. Just as these decisions are about to be made, and things are about to be resolved, the character Billy makes one small poor decision to text at the wheel and it changes their lives forever. It puts it in perspective how big a decision it is to choose to pick up your phone whilst driving. It also unexpectedly rips the characters away from you once you’ve gotten to know them and start routing for their success. In a typical road safety advert, you don’t have time to form a connection with the characters and therefore, the emotion could be lost or short-lived. We feel that this short film could be a little more impactful in the long term, particularly when shown to a younger audience without them knowing about the road safety message.
How has support from the AA Charitable Trust helped you to visualise and share your message?
The AA Charitable Trust have been amazing. Edmund King (president of the AA and director of the AA Charitable Trust) read the proposal and script that I sent them and agreed to fund the film and launch the campaign with it! I couldn’t have asked for anything better!
What has the process been like from producing the idea to seeing the short film on screen?
Stressful actually. Over the last four – five months, it’s been the only thing I’ve been able to think about and I’ve put every waking minute into it. What you see on screen is a completely different film to what was in my head and in some ways, it feels quite disappointing but that’s probably just because my head has been in it for so long. I imagine with a fresh pair of eyes, it’s much better!
What was it like to produce the film and to then star in it?
It was difficult to remove the producer hat whilst filming as issues arose on set, but luckily, the crew were amazing, particularly Lia Wilson (Assistant Producer) and Ashley Carter (Unit Production Manager) who I handed over to before the shoot. They sorted everything out and let me focus on the role.
What are your current thoughts on the release of the film?
The coverage has been amazing so far and we’re only a week in! It’s been covered in near enough every major news outlet and has been broadcast across several radio stations and extracts also played on Sky News on the day of the launch!
Can we expect a further development of the campaign in future to promote the dangers of texting while driving?
Yes, the campaign will last a year and we have many ideas up our sleeves for the distribution of the film and other elements of the campaign as well.
What can a driver or front-seat passenger do in a text-drive situation?
Just don’t. Put your phone on silent/night mode so you don’t hear notifications coming through. Pull over somewhere safe if it’s urgent. If you’re a passenger, speak up, offer to take the call or reply to the text or even direct the driver to somewhere safe to pullover. Don’t just sit there!
Texting and Driving Campaign #DontTextDrive