Oct. 10, 2012, 4:17 p.m. by Wanda Productions
Your Shot: Action Contre La FaimCharity enlists Wanda and TBWA\Paris to create film about tragic massacre
In 2006, 17 aid workers from charity Action Contre La Faim (ACF) were killed alongside many civilians in the town of Muttur, Sri Lanka. Ever since the brutal massacre, the charity has been fighting to open a UN-supervised investigation. TBWA\Paris were brought on board to mobilise public support. They’ve created a film with Wanda director Luis Nieto to encourage people to sign a petition demanding an inquiry. The film presents the fictional testimony of one of the victims, and his story plays out in the blood that seeps into his white t-shirt. LBB spoke with Creative Directors Eric Holden and Rémi Noël, and director Nieto about bringing this hard-hitting story to life.
LBB> Justice for Mutter revolves around a bloody and violent incident in Sri Lanka's recent history - what sort of difficulties do you face creatively dealing with not just a charity ad but an event that claimed so many lives? What were your key concerns?
EH&RN> We knew that working on this project would not be an easy task as it deals with a very serious subject. Our first main concern was to find the proper tone of voice. We had a moral obligation to respect the people who directly and indirectly suffered from this event. Secondly, our challenge was to find the right balance between engaging our audience in a creative way without omitting the informative purpose of the project.
LN> The most difficult thing, I found, was to try to become as involved as possible, so that I could be honest, but not to become so engrossed that I lost my objectivity. I think this was the biggest concern for me as director.
LBB> How did you make sure the film was as authentic as possible?
EH&RN> We had to establish an engaging dialogue with our audience by immersing them in the experience of one of the victims’. The first-person approach was our best option and to reinforce authenticity of the testimony, we decided to use the voice of a local ACF volunteer who worked in the area where the event took place and who knew the victims.
LN> I did a lot of research and looked at the documented evidence surrounding the event before directing the film. Even if the direction I took seems cruel and too realistic, I think there is also a poetic feeling that softens it, creating something that is a free visual interpretation of the incident.
LBB> What sort of collaboration did you have with Action Contre la Faim – what information and resources did they bring? And given the film deals with such a traumatic event that happened to members of that organization... did they have a lot of input into the final spot?
EH&RN> We've worked on projects for organizations such as Amnesty or AIDES in the past, but this was our first collaboration with ACF. After our initial meeting with the members from ACF, the purpose of the project was clear; we had to inform people around the world about the tragedy that occurred six years ago. From that point, ACF gave us complete freedom on the approach.
LBB> Why did you decide to go down the animation route? And what did you think that Luis Nieto's animation style brought to the film?
EH&RN> Basically our concept was to retrospectively allow the victims to tell their story, as our main objective was to inform our viewers about this tragic event. When we thought through the first-person point of view, the idea of using the white ACF t-shirt as a white paper, to write the story upon appeared an interesting route to follow.
Not only did we choose Luis Nieto for his unique sense of animation, we chose him for his ability to handle all the aspects of the production, from the shooting and animation to the sound design and storytelling.
LBB> What was it about the creative and the charity that attracted you to this job?
LN> I think the idea of turning blood into a witness, the only witness, of this brutal event was extremely interesting.
LBB> In terms of the blood - how did you balance the need to create fluid animation whilst capturing the messiness of the substance? What sort of visual tests did you do to find out how blood would move and spread in a realistic way?
LN> I created some stock footage of blood spreading out on a t-shirt and played with gravity and fluidity to create conceptual shapes and contrasting fluid movements. All of these abstract pieces were put together into something figurative.
LBB> How did you go about putting the spot together? How long did it take to create and what did you use to create the animation?
LN> It was pretty smooth. I worked collaboratively with Professor Xavou, who I think is one of the best graphic artists in Paris, to create the entire animation and compositing. It took us about a month.
LBB> What was the most interesting thing about being involved in this project?
LN> Most definitely it was the experience of working on something that is really important to so many people and that will. Hopefully, help ACF reach it’s goal – that the UN open a supervised investigation into the massacre.
EH&RN> The most interesting thing about working on this project is the cause itself. It may only be the first step to a concrete action, but knowing that it may go towards tracking down the people who committed those horrible acts is what made this project worth working on.
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