360° video - the making

Samaritans’ innovative film exposes the difference between hearing and really listening

Samaritans is one of the first charities in the UK to experiment with virtual reality to get an awareness raising message across.

For its new ‘We Listen’ campaign, a specially produced film immerses the viewer in the sights and sounds of a café, across the table from a friend going through a difficult time.  The soundtrack replicates the buzz of the environment, with distractions coming from all angles.  By moving a mouse or tilting a device you can explore visually in 360° what else is going on in the scene.

During the film the friend starts to reveal what’s going on in his life, but his words are hard to catch or drowned out, just as they can be in real life.

The film is designed to emphasise the main point of the ‘We Listen’ campaign, that even when you think you are hearing what someone is saying, it can be hard to listen to what really matters.  The film sets up Samaritans’ campaign message brilliantly: away from distractions, away from the noise, we just focus on you and, ‘We don’t just hear you, we listen.’

Kimberley Anderson is Samaritans’ Head of Digital Communications:  “It’s rare for a conversation between two people to happen without any kind of interruptions and the film pushes the viewer’s ability to listen, with distracting audio and visuals throughout.

Samaritans wants to emphasise how valuable listening is when supporting people who may be struggling. Samaritans are the experts in listening so that people have the time and space to express what’s really going on in their lives. We want to encourage more people to contact us before their feelings overwhelm them.”

The film was produced for Samaritans by The Good Agency. Its Creative Director is Reuben Turner:

“Virtual reality is a storytelling medium that’s yet to be used to its full potential and it offers an exciting new way to bring this simple yet universal core idea to life.  By offering the viewer total control over what they are seeing, along with highly crafted sound design, we added another layer of engagement to the idea. 

“We’d never made a film like this before – the whole process of scripting, storyboard and production required a different approach.  But working with virtual reality experts Surround Vision, and a brave, trusting client in Samaritans, we were confident we could create a piece people will genuinely connect with.”

In its first two days from launch, Samaritans’ We Listen film has already had nearly 50,000 views. Watch the film here:   www.samaritans.org/welisten.

You can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (you don’t even need credit and this number won’t show up on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.

Get on board with our #WeListen campaign by following Samaritans on Twitter @samaritans or facebook www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity.

For more information, and photos of the video in production, please contact press@samaritans.org or call 020 8394 8396 or download a press pack at www.samaritans.org/NRpress

Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans responds to more than 5.3 million calls for help every year, offering emotional support by phone, email, text and face to face in its 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.  For more information please see www.samaritans.org
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and more than 21,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope. For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.