YCN Studio and Buck Los Angeles have created a powerful animated video for counselling service ChildLine encouraging children to report sexual abuse.
The four-minute film follows conversations between a ChildLine advisor and a child who is being abused. The conversation is not spoken but written – the adviser’s words are clearly legible in a neat hand drawn type, while the child’s words swirl around the screen.
The animation begins with the child’s struggle to say what has happened to them – their embarrassment and awkwardness is represented by broken lettering and constantly changing fonts. For each statement the child makes, the advisor has a reassuring response, reminding them that they were right to contact ChildLine and that what’s happening to them is wrong.
The script, written by YCN Studio, is based on common questions and concerns raised by children when speaking to ChildLine counsellors and accompanying animations illustrate the child’s relief when talking about their problems: in one scene, when asked how they feel about opening up to ChildLine, we see an image of birds, blue sky and open space as the child, Ash, admits: “I didn’t think you’d believe me”.
By the end of the video, Ash is ready to discuss how they can make what’s happening to them stop and the animation is replaced with a message in stark black and white that reads: “We know how difficult it is to talk about sexual abuse”. It’s the first time abuse is directly mentioned.
Designed for ChildLine’s website, the film is carefully tailored to address both genders and the lack of information about the caller reflects the confidential nature of ChildLine, while removing the possibility that children will dissociate themselves from the character in the video.
“The brief we received for the project was quite open, but included a lot of detail about how children suffering from abuse feel. Lots of them spoke of their difficulty in finding the words to talk about their problems, and feeling like words were stuck in their throat, so we thought illustrating that would be a good way to communicate those feelings without showing anything that would upset viewers or make them feel awkward,” explains YCN Studio director Alex Ostrowski.
Key to the video, says Ostrowski, was demonstrating that it’s OK for children to hang up at any time and that they can contact ChildLine as many times as they like. Without the option of fades or jump cuts to convey passing time, Buck uses clearer type and illustrations of open spaces to communicate progression with each conversation.
The sound and music was designed by Antfood and as Ostrowski explains, voices are omitted to keep the caller’s identity anonymous, allowing viewers to project their own story on to the film.
It’s a carefully constructed and beautifully crafted film, and one that slowly and gently re-assures viewers without making them feel uncomfortable or under pressure. Through the calming colours, illustrations and types, YCN Studio and Buck have captured intense emotions in a video that will hopefully give children the confidence to seek help.
Directed by: Buck
Executive Creative Director: Ryan Honey
Executive Producer: Maurie Enochson
Producer: Ashley Hsieh
Creative Director: Joshua Harvey
Designers: Joshua Harvey, Joe Mullen, Gunnar Pettersson
2D Animators: Laura Yilmaz, Kendra Ryan, Gunnar Pettersson, Claudio Salas, Matt Everton, Thierno Bah, Ege Soyuer, Zach Eastburg, Oliver Dead, Moses Journey
3D Artists: Yates Holley, Alex Dingfelder, Matt Everton
Music and Sound Design: Antfood
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