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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards


Finalist in Documentary Short


LIVING, a global documentary, was created to go beyond the way that pharmaceutical companies traditionally communicate. Against the inertia of the fast-paced presentations in this industry, the idea was simple: give real people the time and space to tell their stories of overcoming disease. This rare and powerful approach has created a true stand-out in the industry, one that has left a lasting impact on everyone who has seen it.

The objective of this documentary was not to promote a specific product or brand but rather to tell authentic, emotive stories with high-level artistry that draws in audiences and stands alone as a powerful narrative.

A driving purpose of the documentary was to tell the patient's stories in a way that could transcend audiences. Whether it be internally at BMS or externally, with different ages, nationalities, languages, etc., we aimed to create a documentary that could resonate regardless of an individual's background.

The direction leans into two areas that are not normally given space in this industry: unfettered authenticity and cinematic visual beauty. In weaving together such a large scope of stories from around the world, we aimed to tell a truly global story that unlocks a depth of common humanity often hard to achieve.

Strategy and Execution

Pharmaceutical companies increasingly have the opportunity and need to communicate directly with consumers. It was important for us to illustrate our industry-leading patient-centric approach, using science to transform lives. The storytelling agency HUMAN was briefed to take patient stories (typically vignettes) to a new level by making a moving documentary. Instead of promoting products or the company, we prioritized an impactful storytelling strategy that would illuminate that patients are at the forefront of our company. Counter-intuitively, this realness would allow audiences to connect with our company in a nonconventional way, fostering human connection and brand affinity.

We embarked on an extraordinary mission to honor the stories and cultures of patients from around the world. Our team tirelessly traveled across three continents, filming in four countries, all within a tight timeline. From Europe to North America to Asia, the cinematographers set out to capture subtle nuances in the footage that mirror the culture of each subject. In rural China, the cinematography of the Chinese farmer is bucolic and more vibrant in flow with the active movement of farming, while in Sweden, it is slightly more composed and structured. The footage in France was more artistic and contemplative, contrasting with the US-based patients that had a more patterned suburban feel. Ultimately, we were challenged to create a visual poem that transcended age, ethnicity, and cultural differences while uniting places, cultures, and people.

In addition, the direction took on the deep challenge of filming this story as a true cinema verite style while maintaining a highly cinematic approach. There was a commitment to capturing the patients' real lives as they happen in their everyday environments while still shooting in a way that felt like a movie, shooting in 2:35 on anamorphic lenses. In this way, a 'realismo magico' visual poem ties together disparate stories to portray the surreal nature of the human condition to be alive and to be conscious of our struggle to keep living. Using movement, the cinematography and editing create match cuts to blend the story cohesively. Although challenging, the team was able to link a vast array of experiences through thematics that seamlessly make a seemingly singular narrative using the subjects' collective voices.

The documentary initially premiered internally in front of 30,000 people during our company's Global Patient Week. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, we knew we had an opportunity to share LIVING more broadly. Therefore, we planned a watch event during South by Southwest (SXSW).

The event was designed to showcase the documentary and provide attendees with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, insights about the patients, the caregiver role, and the power of storytelling. This allowed us to create a connection with the audience based on shared values and emotions.

Our landing page on gave us additional real estate to market the program through paid and organic methods. The page included a documentary teaser and background on the patients, providing a compelling reason to register.


Initially shared with over 30,000 Bristol Myers Squibb employees worldwide, the film struck a resounding chord with viewers, inspiring them to forge deeper connections between their work and the real-life struggles of the patients they serve. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and employees rated the film 4.2 out of 5 stars. Many expressed how deeply moved they were by the film's message of hope and resilience. But the impact didn't stop there.

The external screening at the South by Southwest conference had similar results. The cinema was standing room only, with many in tears from the film's poignant message. Attendees praised our ability to capture people's hope and for delivering an emotionally charged experience. Attendees were inspired by the patient stories and felt compelled to share the film with their networks.

The landing page had exceptional results, attracting 6,082 unique visitors, accounting for 7% of unique visits, and surpassing engagement levels across the website during the same period. Our RSVP call-to-action drove over 500 clicks, and the trailer received over 400 views (32% completion rate).

With its masterful storytelling, LIVING created a powerful bridge of empathy, touching the hearts of anyone facing the challenges of disease. Now, patient advocacy groups around the globe are using the film to spark thematic discussions on hope and resiliency, amplifying the film's impact and spreading its message of inspiration far and wide. LIVING has truly set a new standard for the power of film to unite, inspire, and transform lives.


Video for LIVING

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Bristol Myers Squibb


Entry Credits