Scotmid, the country’s biggest independent retail society with nearly a quarter of a million members, commissioned one of the smallest worker co-ops — the five-year-old mediaco-op with just four members — to produce a DVD to celebrate the society’s 150th anniversary in September.
Working with the Glasgow-based film-making co-operative was part of the attraction for Scotmid. “It helped that we didn’t have to explain what co-operation is all about,” said the society’s Head of Corporate Communications, Malcolm Brown. “mediaco-op’s commitment to co-operative and ethical principles shone out from day one.”
The film puts Scotmid’s staff centre-stage, allowing people from shop-floor to managment to tell the co-operative’s story in their own words. Scotmid’s most celebrated ex-employee is one of Scotland’s most famous sons: Sean Connery — for six years a Co-op milkman with the former St Cuthbert’s Society in the days when milk deliveries were drawn by horse through the streets of Edinburgh.
The film star wasn’t available for the DVD shoot, but mediaco-op solved the problem by digging up a 1982 documentary from the vaults of the British Film Institute. So the new Scotmid DVD includes clips from My Edinburgh by Sean Connery, with the star reminiscing about his milk round.
mediaco-op put together a top team for the Scotmid project. The director is BAFTA-winner Steve Sklair, working with in-house producer Aimara Reques and editor Inigo Garrido and the in-house production team. Guest voice-over artist is the much-loved Scottish actress, Alison Peebles. The soundtrack was composed by Mick Cooke of the Brit-award-winning Glasgow band Belle and Sebastian.
The DVD — Retail Retold — compresses 150 years of the society’s history into 16 minutes. Running throughout the film is one central thread: however much the business and the whole retail scene has evolved and transformed since the 12 Edinburgh pioneers started back in 1859, the values and principles of the founders remain intact in 2009.
“The result is superb,” comments Malcolm Brown. “mediaco-op took our brief and ran with it. We gave them creative leeway and they’ve come up with an exceptional and engrossing film that really gets the message across with flair.
“They’ve captured the flavour and the essence of what we do, and turned it into an engaging and accessible story.”
To ensure that Scotmid’s investment in the film will bear fruit long after the 150th anniversary celebrations are over, mediaco-op has also supplied a shorter re-edit of the film.
The second version is specially tailored for Scotmid to use during in-house training courses and as part of the induction process for new staff. “Our aim is to make films with creative ambition that really deliver for the co-ops, charities and social enterprises we work with,” said media-co-op’s Louise Scott. “It’s been such a privilege for us to meet so many of Scotmid’s staff and members during the process of making this DVD — and to meet the people who benefit from their social projects, from school children at a breakfast-club outside Edinburgh to a Fairtrade producer from Malawi.”
• Lucinda Broadbent is a director of mediaco-op. For further information visit: www.mediaco-op.net.