What it's like to be an actor in a campaign video

12th December 2019

He’s played Batman, a tech billionaire and the survivor of a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic world. His face has been seen at least 13 million times. But you probably don’t know who he is.

Alexander Hulme is an actor, stuntman in training, and an unlikely hero in the Labour general election campaign. Hulme has acted in a number of Labour’s short viral videos, including Rewrite Your Future, with 1.2 million views on Facebook , Cycle of Austerity, two million views, and “Heroes?”, with a huge 4.8 million views. Across Facebook and Twitter, the videos featuring Hulme have racked up significantly over 13 million views, which is likely to continue to grow in the final day before the election, as campaigning enters the last desperate stretch.

With news outlets such as The Guardian and The Telegraph dedicating a slot of coverage solely to the digital campaign, and digital strategists arguing about the extent of the role that social media plays in our elections, 13 million views is not an insubstantial number.

Hulme has been a Labour member since 2015, and started off actively supporting them as a volunteer phone banker for Jeremy Corbyn’s first and second Labour leadership elections, as well as canvassing for the 2017 general election. “Momentum led the way for me in all of those campaigns,” he said, praising their tools for finding marginals to canvass in, their training sessions and their relentless drive and optimism. He emailed them to congratulate them on their efforts, and offered his services as an actor.

A short while later, in November 2017, the first of Hulme’s videos for Labour went out, “Heroes?”, a sketch about getting a proper pay rise for public sector workers.

Hulme has gone on to make several videos since then, and in racking up the views, he’s found a lot of enjoyment. “It’s hugely satisfying to be able to help this progressive Labour party by doing something I love,” he said.

“I’ve been in nine videos now and each role has been very different – some highlights include playing a tech giant sitting on a throne rubbing cash on my face, the last living human in a post apocalyptic world, and Batman. I painted the Joker’s face for the Batman sketch so I guess I was officially the makeup artist as well as an actor on that one.” He went on to say that the videos have been credited by many, even some Conservatives, as having a considerable impact, and he emphasises that the Labour campaign is even bigger and better organised than in previous years.

Hulme has a lot of optimism, but also a lot of anger. He lost his mum to multiple sclerosis in 2015, and was furious to learn afterwards that “fit to work assessments” were being given to people suffering from the same condition, by people who were not medical professionals. He cites either “incompetence or sheer cruelty” at the root of Conservative policies like these, and says that austerity and the rise of policies like fit to work assessments are why he chose to get behind Corbyn.

Hulme still canvasses, and would encourage every Labour supporter to do the same if they are able. He’s not sure of the result of the election right now, but he’s glad he contributed to the campaign in some “small part”. Once the final votes have been counted and the analysis of the digital impact is complete, it will be interesting to find out just how small his part has been.

12th December 2019