High Concept Charity Films

Three charity films that take a high concept approach to awareness campaigns: Sport England make women sweat like foxes, War Child creates an immersive first-person experience and Parkinson’s UK delivers a van load of furry retribution.

These films all look like they may be on the upper reaches of most charities budgets (although the Parkinson’s Up Your Friendly was a pro bono production) but there’s no reason that with creative thinking and a well scripted film, smaller charities can’t come up with something equally impactful.

1. THIS GIRL CAN: Sport England

If we had a £ for ever time a client shows us this film… or someone recommends it for the blog…

I’m sure you’ve all seen this wonderful film already – it’s had more than 8 million views on YouTube alone since it launched 8 months ago .. plus it’s had hundreds of TV spots… but so many people have asked that we review it that we felt we really should. Plus today’s Guardian has an article devoted to the harassment women receive simply for being on the streets in exercise gear:

  • As I was running to my local swimming pool, a car slowed down beside me and a guy shouted ‘whore’ at me.”
  • Was outside trying to enjoy a run, and in the hour I spent in public, got honked and/or shouted at no less than three times.”

So it’s a good time to celebrate a stunning campaign.

Part of the power of this film comes from the brilliant editing: just take a look at how the snap of bikini elastic kicks off the Missy Eliot track …. or the way that background sound drives along the edits…. or the boxer perfectly in time with ‘hit me’ and then again with a flurry of punches to make a drum fill…. or … any one of a dozen masterful bits of film making.

It’s also a truly visual film: you can tell what it’s about even watching it mute on Facebook and it’s a joyful, uplifting watch.  Also worth watching are the half dozen other short films that feature the stories of individual women told over images of them exercising. They’re on the This Girl Can YouTube page along with a ‘behind the scenes’ film.

Sport England who commissioned it say that 75% of women are put off exercising by fear of being judged – so let’s hope this film keeps on hitting home. And keep an eye out for the rumoured up-date….

2.Duty of Care. Protecting Children: War Child

A hard watch with some fairly brutal imagery but this film uses video game style footage to show the horrors of war from a child’s perspective in a compelling way.

I almost included this film in last week’s round-up featuring shock tactics but didn’t (because it’s VERY shocking) but having viewed it a few more times, I think this film from War Child deserves a careful watch. Shot from a child’s viewpoint as a first-person video game, the film immerses you in a war zone as soldiers burst into your home, you search for your father and finally have to run through cross fire to reach temporary safety. Graphic overlays give prompts – ‘find dad’ or ‘hide’ or ‘ hold breath’ –  and also show levels of health and trauma. Just like the This Girl Can film, it’s the editing that lifts this film: the true horrors are implied or cleverly obscured by careful direction. Watching it feels immersive and very scary. YouTube overlays are used to good effect to incorporate a call to action early on in the film and then again at the end: they feel like part of the film’s video-game concept and it feels natural to want to click them.

3. HOW WOULD YOU REACT: Parkinson’s UK

A deceptively simple first person description of a debilitating disease that carefully delivers viewers to the call to action

The concept of this film is a single shot that starts tight on a man’s face and pulls slowly backwards, revealing that he’s frozen in a group of people in the middle of a museum. The first person voice over tells the man’s story and encourages people to realise what it may be like to be trapped inside the disease. Powerful, direct and simple, a refreshing change from films that speak for the survivor as if they have no voice of their own.

A contrast with Parkinson’s next film Up Your Friendly  – which features a van load of bears who distribute furry retribution to anyone who’s an arse….you’ve been warned.


3. UP YOUR FRIENDLY: Parkinson’s UK

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london video production companyJeremy Jeffs is a documentary film maker with 15 years experience of directing films for BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic and PBS. He’s recently finished work on a history of China, with broadcaster Michael Wood and his recent feature documentary, Bette Bourne, was shown at the London Film Festival, Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the V&A. More about Jeremy

london video producersMagneto Films is an award winning production company that specialises in working with the charity sector, not-for-profits and the public sector. We specialise in telling real stories, working with casestudies and real people to make films that move people to action. More about Magneto Films

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