When you don’t face a problem, it doesn’t go away. It hovers around you like a monster. If it’s a family problem, it’s not just your problem. The monster affects everyone you love. Creative agency, And Rising, and Great Guns director, Duncan Christie, have combined live action and animation to show problems as dark and ever-present monsters in everyday situations to create awareness of the breadth of family problems that charity, Family Action, helps people to deal with.
Problems such as post-natal depression, poverty, alcoholism, and communication breakdown.
Christie, who took home a haul of awards last year at LIA, the CLIOs and The One Show for his Breast Cancer Now campaign, 2050, commented, “A key aim of the film is to reduce the stigma around these issues and get people talking – something we Brits aren’t always so good at. It was important that the film felt relatable for families from all different socio-economic backgrounds across the UK, not just for the most vulnerable people Family Action work with.”
Because authenticity was a major consideration, extensive pre-production was completed ahead of the two-day shoot which took place in South London. Duncan and And Rising Creatives, Julie Herskin and Scarlett Montanaro, attended focus group meetings to shape the narrative from first-hand stories shared by Family Action staff.
Christie explained, “We worked really closely with the charity to make the film true to real life. Their insights were invaluable, as they helped make the script as tight as possible without making the scenarios feel forced or over-dramatised. We were lucky to work with an amazing casting director, Maddy Hinton, who helped bring our families to life. I worked closely with each family ahead of the shoot, so they developed a rapport. It certainly helped that a lot of our actors could relate to the roles.”
Duncan and cinematographer, Nanu Segal [Bohemian Rhapsody], worked with BlindPig, the animation arm of Absolute Post, to combine the live-action and animation elements.
“This was the first time I had worked extensively with animation. The amount of work that goes into combining live-action and animation is huge,” Christie stated. “Of course, the film had to be carefully storyboarded but I still tried to leave some degree of spontaneity on the day to capture moments that felt off the cuff and impromptu. Retaining an observational feeling can be difficult when you’re working with animation, but BlindPig’s presence on the shoot meant we could discuss the impact of any changes on the animation.”
The team avoided horror film territory in creating the monsters, opting for neither a threatening nor a cute characterisation, but rather an unwanted presence that weighs the families down. The monsters were imbued with different personalities, with BlindPig designing their anatomy and movements to loosely represent the problem in each scene.
The film, Family Monsters, is running online and in Picturehouse Cinemas across the UK.
Agency: And Rising
Creatives: Julie Herskin & Scarlett Montanaro
Executive Creative Director: Will Thacker
Creative Partner: Anna Carpen
Producer: James Faupel
Account Director: Emma French
Strategy Director: Jack Carrington
Design: Samuel Guillotel, Sam Barcham & Matt Longley
Production Company: Great Guns
Director: Duncan Christie
Executive Producer: Laura Gregory
Producer: Tim Francis
DOP: Nanu Segal
Editing: Max Windows @ Stitch
Animation: BlindPig @ Absolute Post
Post Producer: Belinda Grew
Post Production Creative Director: Ric Comline
Animators: Dominica Harrison, Niall High & Christine Peters
2D: Elliott Platt
Colourist: Matt Turner
Music: Johnny Parry
Sound Designer: Jon Clarke @ Factory Studios