Ad of the Week: Channel 4, Stand Up To Cancer promo

Channel 4 has released a two minute-long film to promote its forthcoming night of fundraising, Stand Up To Cancer. The film, which is our Ad of the Week, pays homage to the disaster movie genre but with a twist, as this time it’s cancer cells rather than humans that are being destroyed…

Channel 4 has released a two minute-long film to promote its forthcoming night of fundraising, Stand Up To Cancer. The film, which is our Ad of the Week, pays homage to the disaster movie genre but with a twist, as this time it’s cancer cells rather than humans that are being destroyed…

Made by 4Creative alongside Nexus directors Smith & Foulkes, the film opens on scenes reminiscent of Chipotle’s recent short, The Scarecrow, as a community of blobs are shown caught in the dystopian rat race of a modern city. As they go about their business though – to ‘keep growing’ as a poster site implores – something goes awry, and the blobs begin to spontaneously combust. Panic strikes the city’s inhabitants before the big reveal: that it’s humans causing the chaos this time, by killing off the cancer cells.

The film’s defiant approach is inspired by recent stats that reveal that as many people are now surviving a cancer diagnosis as dying from the disease. In addition to this it is also intended to reflect that the fundraising event will be fun to watch, despite its serious underlying message. “It’s a difficult line to walk,” says Pablo Gonzalez de la Pena, senior art director at 4Creative, “but it’s an entertainment show, and this approach is intended to reflect this new message about cancer, and to be empowering.”

The project was over a year in the making, with the directors Smith & Foulkes working closely alongside 4Creative to tell the story. “They are not only amazing directors, and have an amazing background, but I was really impressed with how they handle storytelling,” says Gonzalez de la Pena. “They nailed the whole story that we wanted to tell.”

“The main challenge was how to visualise the cancer cells,” say Smith & Foulkes of the project. “We wanted to steer away from the obvious route of showing cells as a bunch of grotesque alien germs, but we were also acutely aware of not making them too human or cute. We also had to find a way to illustrate the new therapies, drugs and scientific breakthroughs that are fighting cancer. We wanted their arrival to be initially magical and mysterious, so we used a glowing blue orb, an unexplained light descending upon a shadowy world.”

The directors used a mix of 2D paintings and 3D models to create the world of the film. “Disaster movies rely heavily on vast visual spectacle and a cast of thousands, so working within our time constraints we decided to recreate this using 2D matt paintings to show a sense of the city without having to model every building,” they explain. “This gave it an illustrative and richly textured feel. Modelling and animating our cast in 3D gave us the flexibility of performance we wanted, and made them stand out from their environment.”

Stand Up To Cancer, which is a partnership between Channel 4 and Cancer Research, will take place on October 17.

Credits:
Agency: 4Creative
Creative directors: Chris Bovill, John Allison
Creative: Pablo Gonzalez de la Pena
Agency producer: Shananne Lane
Directors: Smith & Foulkes
Production company: Nexus
Producer: Tracey Cooper
Live action production company: 4Creative
Live action director: Keith McCarthy
Editor: Paul Hardcastle, Trim
Sound design: Anthony Moore, Dan Beckwith, Tom Joyce, Factory
Music production company: Siren

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