Words and interview by Simon Bland
The past two years have changed the business landscape drastically but they’ve also had a huge impact on the way audiences digest content. As the pandemic ravaged its way across the world, audiences were forced to be extra vigilant with regards to what advice they consumed, with the internet and social media littered with fake news, disinformation and wildly incorrect knowledge masquerading as fact. As we start to emerge from this unparalleled pandemic, we’re left with a sobering reminder of just how easy it can be to believe the wrong thing alongside the crucial importance of straight-forward, accurate knowledge sharing and content.
It’s somewhere in between these two worlds where you’ll find Nidhi Gupta – healthcare professional, movie maker and Creative Director of Busy Doctors Films. Trading since 2017, Gupta’s company specialises in creating health-focused content that accurately informs as well as entertains. Working part-time as a doctor, she discovered first hand just how ill-equipped we were to ascertain the truth during the height of the pandemic – and as someone who had to endure her own dangerously-close brush with danger after contracting Covid, she’s keen to set records straight by creating video content that’s fun to watch – and good for us too.
“I originally trained in medicine but I’ve always been passionate about film,” explains Gupta, speaking to us in early 2022. During the first wave, she’d contracted coronavirus after working on a covid ward where personal protective equipment was scarcely available. The experience, combined with her time working for the NHS, led her to start work on the documentary Start.Stop.Repeat – itself an attempt to highlight some of the lessons taught by this chaotic period. “About seven years ago filmmaking became more than a hobby and I wanted to do it as a career,” she continues. “We had a really big problem in science communication, as evidenced by the fact that we’ve been through a fully-fledged pandemic,” she says. “We had to deal with anti-vaxxers, people believing Bill Gates wants to microchip us and all kinds of nonsense.”
The formation of Busy Doctors Films was intended to remedy a very real problem – one that the science and medical community often struggles with. “We’re a full production company specialising in medical education,” says Gupta of her business and its output. “It incorporates both of my passions, all in the same sphere.”
Of course, the creation of content that teaches accurate medical information is nothing new. However, with Gupta’s background and eye for the type of content that speaks to the right people, Busy Doctor’s equipped to make waves in its field. “These types of videos are already here,” she admits, “but while some teams are able to create nice little videos, they’re not able to implement the strategy behind them or target them with a detailed knowledge of healthcare, public health and audience behaviours. The majority of the videos that are made are put onto a Facebook or Instagram page that is only followed by the people who work in a specific department – and while they’re very nice, nobody actually sees them.”
Instead, Gupta and her team offer a service that has all audiences in mind from day one. “We make videos for healthcare professionals and members of the general public – and those are two separate types of videos. The question is: what information do those different audiences want and what do you need to get across?” she explains. “We’re actually doing the research, conducting interviews and doing the focus group work to identify what the key messages that need to be explained to each different audience are – and then we create bespoke video content for those different audiences.”
She continues, unpacking the key elements that makes Busy Doctors Films so unique: “I don’t know anyone else that can provide that service that isn’t a high-end commercial concept company that will charge you huge amounts of money,” she reasons. “You could buy the same level of expertise – but the network we have nationally and internationally doesn’t come at the same cost of those big advertising firms. At the same time, you can’t get it from talented filmmakers who are great at what they do but just don’t have that medical network.”
It’s an issue that goes far beyond coronavirus. During our chat, Gupta recalls another example where key information is lost in translation and lives are potentially put at risk. “There’s an issue with people needing repeat colonoscopies because they don’t take the laxative needed before the procedure. If you don’t take this, the doctor can’t visualise the bowel and you can’t see if you have cancer,” she explains. “This means you’ll need a repeat colonoscopy, which of course causes stress for patients and also uses resources that could be spent on new patients.”
The solution? An engaging, informative and targeted video courtesy of Busy Doctors Films: “The video we created saw somebody not take the laxative and then be told that the doctor doesn’t know if they have cancer or not. It worked on the emotional punch of somebody being worried and why it’s important for you to take your medication,” says Gupta, “and it was really well received by the audience.”
While the company has already won various awards, partnered with big-name public bodies and secured commercial sector contacts, Gupta is keen to take things to the next level. It’s an urge that led her to apply for Creative Enterprise Evolve, a scheme that matches innovative screen-sector businesses with advisors and industry mentors in order to help them secure additional finance and investment.
“I became a director last year and got two major commissions,” explains Gupta, remembering how hectic 2021 was for her studio. “The amount of work the company was able to be involved in made me think: how do I maintain this momentum and how do I grow?” Joining this year’s Evolve cohort placed her among other organisations at a similar stage and with familiar goals. What’s more, learning how to refine her pitch and increase her chances of securing investment helped develop Gupta’s business niche too. “When you’re developing your pitch, your company really changes as a part of that process because you’re really honing down your message,” she reasons. “There’s so many of these types of programmes out there – but this is probably the only one I’ve been on that I’ve actually found really useful.”
Looking ahead, Gupta is eager to do more of the same and confident her knowledge-based offering is alluring for potential investors. “Medical communication is very high-reward, low-risk because there’s specific funding pots where medical communication is mandated,” she reveals, shedding light on the way her sector works. “From Wellcome Trust, to the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Innovate UK and dozens of others; a science communication element is often mandated within the application process – so that’s who we’re targeting,” says Gupta. “These research groups and start-ups need a science communication provider – so we’re maximising their money by getting the word out there in a more effective way.”