We have recently wrapped up a project we had been working on for about two months. The final work resulted in four 30 second adverts aimed at raising awareness on mental health, particularly anxiety. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, through the agency Communique, commissioned us for this job. It was one of the several jobs on which we partnered together.
The brief was simple, we need to encourage people who might be suffering from anxiety to look for help. We needed to show them what the symptoms may be, to let them know that others might dismiss their condition and that they are not alone.
Following research, Communique came up with the concept to have a calendar where the person suffering from anxiety jots down his or her symptoms eventually charting their way to decide to ask for help. We evolved that concept for the scripts of television and social media adverts. The videos would show different individuals having trouble going through their everyday life, because of anxiety, eventually asking for help and dealing better with their problem.
For the first script, we decided to tackle a form of anxiety that is quite common, the fear of social situations. Several people suffer from an excessive fear when getting to meet other people. They are scared they will make a fool of themselves, that they will not know what to say or that something wrong will happen.
In the first video, we see our protagonist getting ready to go out, on different nights, only to suffer from bouts of anxiety that make her decide to stay inside, every time. She describes the symptoms she is experiencing through her voice and through her writing. In the end, she asks for help and turns over a new leaf.
The script was a bit long, we were thinking of having a longer cut for social media where viewers could absorb the subtleties better and enjoy watching a longer video. The client wanted us to focus on the 30 seconder adverts for television, so we abandoned the idea of lengthier social media videos.
In the end, we produced a video that compressed all the elements that we needed to portray into a shorter length video, which proved punchy and delivered the message without beating around the bush. Admittedly, a longer version might have been more suited for a social media audience but the video racked up a good number of views and it looked good.
At first, we had an edit that went by visuals and basically we cut the scene according to continuity, making sure everyone understood what was happening. The final result was quite a long sequence. We had feedback saying that it was too repetitive. Now, the script asked for repetitiveness to show that anxiety was a recurrent issue, we had repeating patterns that have a certain aesthetic quality to them. Then again on television, since it is so expensive, you can't afford such luxuries.
We started chopping every shot to its essence, shortening each one to show exactly what is needed and only that, while at the same time, ensuring that the continuity does not jar and everything makes sense.
It was an educational experience, getting to extract exactly what is needed from every particular shot and stitching all together for the final product.
How do we go about it when we edit anything? Of course, it depends very much on the material you have to work with. In this case, we had the script to follow and it was a matter of taking the best takes, then ordering the scenes one after the other and eventually fine-tuning each scene to make continuity sense and also making sure of having the right pace.
Since the script was on the longer side, we also had to trim the scenes to fit within the 30-second limit.
For the second video, we went directly for 30 seconds. We edited for a slick sequence from the start. It discussed anxiety at work. Several people suffer anxiety because they feel that they are not capable at work or because they have a huge task ahead of them.
In this case, we showed our protagonist staring at his computer and feeling the pressure from his colleagues. He then completely flunks his presentation in front of them. The second video in the series was easier to edit and finalise. This being a series of four, lots of work, like the graphics, the caption and the music were established for the first video and thus it was a matter of focusing on just the edit.
The third video focused on another male protagonist, this time a student. He was scared of being inadequate, of flunking his exams. He had these nightmare scenes, staring at blank exam papers, with other students looking at him with disdain. As with the other videos, he looks for help and learns to live with his anxiety.
In the final video of the series, we describe another common trait in a number of people who suffer anxiety, the fear of making a scene at the supermarket. Imagine collecting all your shopping from a myriad of aisles across the building, putting them one by one on the conveyor belt only to discover that you left your wallet at home. I guess everyone had that kind of fear every now and then. Some people though suffer from excess fear, anxiety, that might substantially hinder them throughout the course of their lives. It is important for them to seek help but sometimes it is hard to find someone who lends them an ear.
The video, the fourth and the last one of the series, focuses on how lots of people dismiss these issues. We see our protagonist try talking to her boyfriend and to her best friend, who both basically ask her to shut up.
In the end, our protagonist manages to find help and symbolically, also to successfully pay at the supermarket.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ commissioned this series of adverts to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. Motion blur is really proud of having been an integral part of this project, for besides being a high-value project, with amazing actors and a showcase for a few of our technical abilities, it helps raise awareness on the dangers of social stigmas surrounding mental health awareness. Motion blur is glad to be able to lend the talents of its great team for causes that help the society we live in.