McGill University approached us to create a video based on a series of monologues and poems written and recorded by students affected with mental health issues. We collaborated with the Toronto-based artist Jon Todd to paint a portrait of the student with visual elements to colour her monologue. The goal of the video is to do our part to spread mental health awareness and education and to help those who have experienced mental illness to tell their story in their own words and spread the message of support. As artists, animators, and designers, our role is to elevate the storytelling by adding visually stimulating imagery with clear intent and purpose.
Our strategy for this project was simple: we wanted to represent the student's testimonial in a respectful, yet personal, way. We looked for artists who had history with mental illness and were able to bring their personal style to the table. Jon Todd was an incredible choice. As we worked with him to develop the various compositions, we realized that they could be created as one single work of art, using chemicals to erase previous parts of the painting and adding layers overtop of what had already been painted. Technically and metaphorically fitting to the piece! This approach fit perfectly in a timelapse medium as it allowed us to simulate the feeling of memories being everlasting, yet sometimes getting painted over by darker moments in our lives.
The timelapse also allowed us to transition with composition and color palette to show the brighter times in life. The colors and brightness that had been there just before seem to disappear, representing the dark and sorrowful times.
We shot this piece over a 12-day period using a custom rigged camera/computer setup which we moved into the artist's workspace to allow him to be as creative and comfortable as possible.
The approach to the project, as well as its more technical aspects are what make this piece truly unique.
The result is one we're extremely proud of. We feel that our team was able to do this very personal piece justice through technical and artistic vision. Seeing that this project was created for a university's initiative aiming to open up the conversation surrounding mental health issues, we are very pleased that our final video garnered so many views and such positive feedback.
We consider "I Am Me" one of our most successful projects to date, achieving a final product our client was very pleased with, while elevating the voices and talents of people who have personal experience with the issue at hand: mental health.
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