Powerful portrayal of real life incident that was central to Cemex’s 2014 safety tour

CEMEX is a global building solutions company and leading supplier of cement, ready-mixed concrete and aggregates. In the UK CEMEX also provides asphalt, flooring solutions, concrete block and railway sleepers.

Following a very successful series of behavioural safety training events in 2013 Cemex continued the working relationship for 2014 and employed us to design and deliver 18 day-long events across the U.K.

The Challenge

The content for 2013’s events used theatre as a mechanism to tell the story of an accident at a bottling plant. The characters undertook tasks and duties and represented attitudes and behaviours that could be related back to Cemex’s business activities. The impact of the events was achieved by having the theatre storyline based on a real life story and once the theatre established an accident had occurred the real-life victim appeared on stage as a guest speaker. This resulted in a very emotional and hard-hitting experience for the audience. Hence, when Cemex approached us for the 2014 events they wanted them to be equally, if not more, engaging than the previous 2013 events.

Cemex also wanted to make the narrative that structures the day more personal for the audience, so the story had to be set within one of their own sites. With this aim, the event’s narrative recounts the story of a real incident at the CEMEX asphalt plant at Bletchley from June 2012, in which an employee was so badly injured that they were left permanently and significantly disabled.

Our challenge was to create content based on the accident that was unflinching in its realism and honest in its depiction of the events and characters. We also had to be aware of, and sensitive to, the emotions that it fuelled because many of the delegates had direct experience of the incident and were present at the sessions.

Our Solution

Following consultation with the client we decided the best way to portray the real life incident at Bletchley was to combine elements of theatre with film.

The theatre elements were used to portray the safety investigation following the accident. This concept allowed us to depict the details leading up to the accident through character flashbacks and recollections. This approach worked in showing character interactions and revealing mindsets, attitudes and behaviours that are essential to the session’s learning objectives, but didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor the client was looking for. Because all the events were at 18 different locations it meant that the theatre couldn’t be a West End spectacle in terms of production. We couldn’t use extensive or detailed sets to portray the story, or the environment, in which the accident took place. Instead that became the objective of the film, ‘The Reaction Times’: to put the audience in the uncomfortable shoes of those who were there dealing with accident and, through the filming style and content, give the session the spectacle it needed to engage the audience with the subject matter.

When we were developing the story we knew it had to be visceral and it had to be realistic. We were also using a working plant as our location, hence we couldn’t recreate the actual accident, but what we could do is accurately recreate the minutes immediately following it. To make this approach work we knew we had to put the audience inside the chaos and panic. To effectively recreate this scenario we employed the use of a SnorriCam rig, which we built from scratch, and was used to capture unique footage of the characters moving around the site. We also employed a special effects artist to recreate the injuries sustained from the accident, which in combination with some subtle visual fx, allowed us to accurately portray the aftermath of the accident.

A second film, Down The Line, was also created that revisited the characters 2 years after the accident to see the different effects a workplace incident can have on those involved.

The films were shot on a Canon C300 using Canon zoom lenses. They were then edited in Final Cut Pro and After Effects before being graded and conformed in Smoke.

‘The Reaction Times’ was Highly Commended at the EVCOM Awards 2015 in the Training category.

Cannes 2015 Cannes 2015

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Silver Winner at Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards Gold Winner at Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards Evcom 2015 Evcom 2014 Autovision 2015 IoIC Award of Excellence 2014

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