When most people think of Openreach, their knowledge tends to reach as far as the fact they have vans everywhere and that they’re “something to do with BT”. The variety of challenges their engineers face when on the frontline upgrading the network is often unknown to a wider audience, and these guys and gals are the unsung heroes behind our ability to send 40GB of 4K videos of cats in hats to our mates without breaking a sweat.

With their separation from the BT Group in 2017, Openreach took on a new public-facing role to establish themselves as the enabler of communication and connectivity for the UK. With a marketing team focused on changing perspectives, it was down to us to work with them to develop a piece that would help showcase the extent of the work that Openreach does, and to humanise the newly-independent brand.

We worked with Openreach to develop a case-study-esque film that explored the breadth of the country, from the Isle of Portland down south to the Scottish Borders up north. We spoke to real Openreach engineers to get their idea of what Openreach was, what it meant to serve their local communities, and the excitement behind the expansion and innovation across the network. It was important that we captured their work through all kinds of weather conditions, day and night, in busy cities and out in the remote rural areas—their often unrecognised hard work championed in the film.

With a week’s shoot during an epic, cross-country road trip for the ages, we had a blast shooting this, getting to know the absolute legends that were the engineers and why they do what they do. Their sense of community and serving the people of the country was an inspirational message, and their ability to get shit done even at a moment’s notice was impressive.

Aside from the project being a geographical mind-melter, it also posed its own production paradoxes. Not so far-removed cousins of the Wombles, Openreach engineers spend much of their time underground, in service holes, or overground, where they scale telegraph poles to service overhead connections. Capturing intimate, detailed footage of them at work was a tall order, and required a plethora or shooting solutions.  

To overcome this challenge, we utilised a mixture of full size cinema, mirrorless and drone cameras, capturing the action no matter where on the Y-axis it happened. After a week spent diving down holes and scaling poles, it’s fair to say we all became semi-experts in fibre installation, with a newfound respect for the silent heroes behind the UK’s broadband infrastructure.


Credits

Director
Josh Bennett
Producer
Nick Patterson
Cinematographer
Lewis Jelley
1st AC
Alex Bull
Drone Pilot
Gruff Vaughan
Editor
Josh Bennett
Colorist
Lewis Jelley

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