Filmmaker behind rival to John Lewis' 2018 ad returns with tear-jerker

Is this the saddest Christmas advert yet? Filmmaker who went viral with £50 ad to rival John Lewis returns with a festive tear-jerker about a mother who sends her son a message from beyond the grave

  • Phil Beastall, 34, challenged John Lewis with a Christmas ad costing £50 in 2018
  • This year he created another tear-jerking advert for time capsule app Memories
  • The advert focuses on a mother sending her son a video message in the future

The filmmaker who created a £50 rival to John Lewis’ 2018 Christmas advert has released another festive tear-jerker just in time for the holidays.

Phil Beastall, 34, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, who also created the music video for Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Someone You Loved’, has focused on the heart-breaking experience of celebrating Christmas after the death of a loved one. 

His video, created for time capsule app Memories, shares the story of a man receiving a Christmas video message from his mother beyond the grave. 

Although the advert itself is a tear-jerker, Phil hopes that viewers will find the A Gift They’ll Never Forget’s message uplifting and that having memories of loved ones to share is something to celebrate.

Phil Beastall, 34, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, who rivalled John Lewis in 2018 with his £50 Christmas advert, has released a new ad for 2020

Phil’s new advert focuses on the experience of celebrating Christmas after having lost a loved one

Phil’s work first attracted national attention in 2018 when he produces the Love Is A Gift video, which has been viewed more than 50million times, and was hailed as superior to that year’s John Lewis advert.

Speaking about his latest work, Phil said: ‘For me this has been a labour of love, not just the last two months but for the last few years.

‘I’m so proud of this film and with the year that we’ve had it really makes it feel extra special, it’s amazing.

‘Sadly we can all relate to the situation but hopefully people can take a positive from it.

During the video, a man is seen leaving his home and travelling to the coast after picking up a small present from underneath his Christmas tree

The man then sits down and stares out to sea, as if he is waiting for someone

After a few moments he pulls out his phone and begins watching a video message he has been sent

‘It’s obviously very sad when we lose someone but equally to be able to have had that experience and to have known someone is something to celebrate.’

The advert begins with a man glancing at a hand-drawn portrait of a young woman before rushing downstairs to select a present from underneath the Christmas tree. 

He then travels to a beach before sitting and watching a video Christmas message from his mother from beyond the grave.

The emotional man watches as his mum, years earlier at the same beach with him as a little boy, wishes him a happy Christmas.

She then says she hopes he gets the chance to have the same experience at the beach with his children and apologises for not being able to be there with him.

The man’s mother appears in the video message, sat at the exact same spot he is sat at

Alongside his mother is a younger version of himself. It’s now clear that the man’s mother recorded a video message for her son in the future so say Happy Christmas after she had died

The man watches footage of himself as a young boy putting a padlock on a fence with both their initials on it.

The scene then cuts to the modern day and shows the man open the gift box containing a signed padlock.

He places it on the same fence, alongside many others, continuing the sweet mother and son tradition.

The film features a Memories Group feature known as Future Messages which allows users to send messages to loved ones in the future. 

Phil, who is head of film and video at Memories, said: ‘As a filmmaker I want people to enjoy it but at the same time I also want people to see that there’s this great service that perhaps people don’t realise exists.

In the video message, the man sees himself as a young boy attaching a padlock onto a wire fence

‘For us this isn’t just about selling a product, it’s about changing behaviours and presenting this great platform that people can use to celebrate life and do something for our loved ones many years in the future.

‘Watching something and reacting is one thing but then for people to do something off the back of it I think shows the power of film as a tool.’

The pandemic striking just as they were about to start filming threw a spanner in the works, but Phil said it all came together in the end.

Phil said: ‘Covid certainly did pose some issues that we couldn’t be close to each other.

The man then pulls out the present he selected earlier and opens it to reveal a brand new padlock, with his and his mother’s initials on

‘We had to be mindful on set, wearing masks at all times, and making sure that everything was sanitised.’

With millions facing a different kind of Christmas this year, Phil said it was important to make and share memories with loved ones even if physically apart.

Phil said: ‘I think it’s about being connected even when you’re not physically. I’ve definitely experienced this,

‘Because we’ve been stuck at home for so long it’s quite easy to lose contact with family and friends and I think we need to put that extra effort to call people and share memories.

The tear-jerking Christmas advert sees the man then approach the very same wire fence and attach his new padlock, like his earlier self did

As the man steps back it is clear that he has been carrying out this Christmas tradition for quite some time, as a collection of padlocks are visible

‘It’s about being connected even when you’re not physically.

‘Memories is something we can all share and relate to and that’s a great way to bring people back together again.’

Memories Group CEO Tom Ainsworth said: ‘Memories is founded on our commitment to genuine human stories that last longer than an instant.

‘Future Messages allows users to record and send a message from the future to their loved ones, and since the launch, more than 150,000 users have visited the platform to discover more on Future Messages.

‘That’s a wonderful legacy already for our own team.’ 

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