Wish you could see what a venue is like for accessibility before going there? Andy Gilbert, from Gilbey Films, creates videos to showcase just this: the accessibility of venues, from hotels and restaurants to museums and art galleries.
Hi, my name is Andy Gilbert. Until quite recently I worked at the BBC, where I had one of the best jobs in the world: series producing and directing Match of the Day. It was a dream job if, like me, you love football… and, probably, a nightmare if you don’t!
However, after 15 years of working at the TV centre, plus being on the road for World Cups (Berlin and Johannesburg), European Championships (Lisbon and Netherlands/Belgium) as well as the Olympic Games (Atlanta and Sydney) and Wimbledon, I decided it was time to leave.
My motivations were many, but with the BBC moving its sport department to Salford, I realised this gave me the perfect push to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. Ever since leaving university I’ve always worked for big companies, delivering other people’s visions. But I’ve always longed to create something meaningful on my own terms.
So after a quick diversion studio directing C4’s Paralympic Breakfast Show, with Clare Balding and Ade Adepitan (as a multiple Paralympic swimming medal winner myself, I couldn’t turn that gig down!), I launched my own company, Gilbey Films.
My wife and I are both very active disabled people. We like to travel, go to gigs, bars and restaurants. Mind you, now that we have a child it’s more about museums, attractions and adventure playgrounds.
Like any other disabled person, I get stressed about getting around, rubbish service, bad attitudes, dismal disability access, etc. I have a list of anecdotes as long as my crutch that I could share with you, but I won’t dwell on those because I think we’ve all been there.
The things that interest me more are examples of excellent access and outstanding facilities that make life easy for me, my family, and other disabled people. If I can be truly convinced that a particular venue will be welcoming and allow me to share in the same experience as everyone else, then I’m the first in the queue to book.
But do you know what? The reality is that many places offer pretty good access but they just don’t shout about it. I’ve been doing a fair bit of research and it seems that businesses do what they have to do to tick boxes, to ‘comply’ or fulfill legislative requirements. What they’ve not realised is that if they push these facilities, actively sell them, they could attract lots of disabled customers. And that’s where Gilbey Films comes in.
Gilbey Films is all about showcasing great access. Using my many years of experience in the TV industry, I offer a film-making service to businesses so they can show the disability access in action. These short films (including subtitled/audio-described versions) can be used as a marketing tool on websites, in social media campaigns and on specialist travel and disability sites. It’s great to have detailed written information about a venue, but a film really makes a place comes to life.
As well as being good for businesses, it’s great for you too. The films will also sit on the Gilbey Films website so that disabled consumers can check out which businesses are putting in the effort to reach out to us. I’m hoping to build a valuable resource – a video library of excellent access – for everyone to share.
I’ve discussed this at length with friends, colleagues as well as contacts and the consensus is a marketing film aimed at us as disabled consumers doesn’t just provide valuable information but it also makes us feel welcome and wanted. So I say to businesses “if you’ve got it, flaunt it…”
Do you agree? Join the debate and let us know what you think on twitter @Gilbeyfilms, or on Facebook via the Gilbey Films website. Gilbey Films aims to nurture diverse talent onscreen and behind the camera. Check out the link and you can make up your own mind:
By Andy Gilbert