Work / Film

David Wilson directs deeply moving film B.E.N. about using AI robots to tackle loneliness

Filmmaker David Wilson has directed a campaign for The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a deeply moving film exploring how AI robots might be used to tackle loneliness.

The short film tells the story of a woman living on her own, cared for by a robot character called B.E.N. It was vital, David explains, that the person depicted was relatable and familiar, someone “that could easily be your neighbour”. The pared-back narrative and style of the film requires patience from the viewer, but is so intriguing and beautiful that it’s hard not to watch to the end.

“The brief was to create a short film that would use a slower pacing and connect to the intelligence of the viewer,” says David. “It would take them on a journey from seeing the benefits of a robot companion or carer, to the realisation that robots are no replacement for human compassion.”

Far from the clichés of charity campaigns, which can resort to melodrama and guilt trips, David’s film is subtle, personal and real, and as a result leaves a lasting impact. The message of the film is not to ask for money but volunteer time instead.

“All the way through, the agency and client were very firm on making a film that respected the viewer’s intelligence,” David says. “There was to be no heavy hand-holding for the viewer, and everything from the lighting, camera work, pacing and sound should set the tone of a well considered drama.

“The deliberately minimal sound design and extended moments of quietness really helped build that feeling of emptiness. I wanted the gliding camera work to give a feel of helplessness to the viewer: that we were gliding through these scenes like a ghost, unable to help.

“I wanted people to walk away with a seed in their mind of volunteering, but but also a reminder that those most vulnerable often don’t know how to ask for help.”

B.E.N. was produced by La Pac Paris and Colonel Blimp UK.


David Wilson: B.E.N.


David Wilson: B.E.N.


David Wilson: B.E.N.


David Wilson: B.E.N.


David Wilson: B.E.N.


David Wilson: B.E.N.