On Thursday, filmmaker Luke Nutt shared a video to his Instagram titled "The Still — A Tribute to the NHS." The video (which has been viewed thousands of times in less than 24 hours) is one of the truest depictions of the social impact lockdown has had on London that I've seen. The three-minute video starts with sweeping shots of iconic London locations: Tower Bridge, Regent Street, Liberty London in Soho, and Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, for example. All deserted due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.
But the video has a bigger message than to purely show the eerie quality of central London right now. It was also created to celebrate the key workers — and specifically those working for the NHS — each and every day. The video is voiced by Harley Alexander-Sulé, who starts the video with the cutting line, "The city of chaos cuts a lonely figure," and ends it by calling the NHS workers the "great saviours of London."
Speaking to POPSUGAR on Friday, Nutt said the video was inspired by a friend who works as a doctor in the NHS. She was creating voice notes to send to friends and family to update them on exactly what was happening in her hospital. She was calling it "The COVID Diary," and when Nutt and his team heard the stories, they immediately wanted to incorporate her words into the film.
I asked Nutt what it was like to be in central London when it was so quiet and completely devoid of the city's usual bustling energy. "I've always been fascinated with filming London . . . but I've never seen London in a state like this before and we probably never will before." Most of the shots were captured before the tighter lockdown was put in place, and Nutt admitted that it was strange and a bit emotional to see London so desolate. "It felt wrong, like I was on a movie set . . . I just wanted it to be back to normal," he said.
We've all seen the photos of essential workers (be that NHS workers, delivery drivers, or supermarket employees) holding up signs with variations of the words, "We go to work for you. Please say home for us." This is a message reiterated in "The Still — A Tribute to the NHS," which ends by saying, "We rally behind you, great saviours of London and take this, our chance to stand still, to stand up, to change gear. To change our city, forever."