Motion studio Found has collaborated with film director Richard Curtis to create a striking film for grassroots advocacy organisation ONE, charting the history of popular music and protest in a visually arresting mixed-media collage.
Part art installation, part documentary, it combines a range of media including music, speech, video, animation and motion graphics to recall some of the most potent quotes, speeches and individuals from protest movements of the past century – from Civil Rights, Apartheid and Occupy to the current urgent issue of extreme poverty.
Aimed to grab the attention of a younger demographic and get them involved at One.org, the film was launched at a live music event on London’s Southbank last weekend, on the eve of the G8 summit. The 30-minute film (see below) was projected onto the Tate Modern following performances by music artists such as Tinie Tempah, Jessie J and KT Tunstall.
The final version, agit8: Protest = Progress, recalls speeches by Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Dwight D Eisenhower, among others, as well as well known protest songs, such as Marlene Dietrich’s rendition of Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, all set to a combination of archive images and original graphics and illustration.
Found had six weeks to turn the project around, investing a lot of time researching video footage and audio, with the help of Curtis and ONE. “Four of those weeks were spent with Excel Spreadsheets and YouTube writing things down,” says Mike Sharpe, creative director of Found. “We knew that we would deal with a whole bunch of mixed media, and there was a lot of research to be done to find out which ones to pick. We watched over 30 hours of footage and had archivists working around the clock in the UK and the US sourcing obscure footage.”
Around 15 minutes of footage were spliced together, with hundreds of tracks whittled down to just over 50, for the final piece.
Mixing up the graphic and illustration styles was vital, says Sharpe. “To keep the attention of the viewer [when projecting] on the side of the building you need to have a variety of looks up your sleeve rather than just one look. That’s what we realised at the beginning when I did the original design.”
Above: artwork of the Strange Fruit segment of From Protest to Progress, by Sweet Crude
Artwork by Found for the Apartheid section of the Tate Modern projection of agit8: Protest=Progress
Above and below: Two stills from Sweet Crude’s interpretation of an Eisenhower quote from 1953
Illustration by Ian Wright to accompany Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech
The visuals were created in-house at Found with additional contributions from Sweet Crude, Ian Wright and Olive Johnson who illustrated Dietrich’s song (see below).
Securing the rights to – as well as the necessary quality of – material was the biggest production challenge. For example, the audio of Mandela’s speech at the Rivonia trial was of such poor quality, that the team transcribed it and used it performed by Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Above: artwork for Sweet Crude’s interpretation of Mandela’s Rivonia trial speech
The film is part of the wider agit8 campaign, a call to action to end extreme poverty. On the agit8 website visitors can support the campaign, and performers – from high profile musicians to buskers – can add their own protest songs.
For those who missed the live performance, the film will also be shown during the summer at various festivals, and will continue to support the campaign online – and it is definitely worth catching up with. As Sharpe concludes, “Every now and then a job comes along that you just can’t turn down and this was one of those occasions…”
Global Creative Director, ONE Campaign: Roxane Philson
Writer and Executive Producer: Richard Curtis
Production Company: FOUND
Creative Director: Mike Sharpe
Producer: Sue Dhaliwal
Art Director: Ben Collier-Marsh
Associate Producer: Hannah Cameron
Animators: Christopher Shone, Tom Langton, Jonathan May
Editor: Mike Prior
Sound Design: Ade Pressly
Projection Consultant/Producer: Sam Pattinson
Music Consultant: Toby Slade-Baker
Contributors: Ian Wright, Sweet Crude (Fraser Davidson, Simon Tibbs and Dina Makanji), Olive Johnson
Pink Floyd fans may recognise the cover of our June issue. It’s the original marked-up artwork for Dark Side of the Moon: one of a number of treasures from the archive of design studio Hipgnosis featured in the issue, along with an interview with Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis with the late, great Storm Thorgerson. Elsewhere in the issue we take a first look at The Purple Book: Symbolism and Sensuality in Contemporary Illustration, hear from the curators of a fascinating new V&A show conceived as a ‘walk-in book’ plus we have all the regular debate and analysis on the world of visual communications.
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