Studies have shown that pets provide health benefits linked to our mental and physical well-being, including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, plus easing loneliness. With COVID-19 triggering a secondary loneliness pandemic, this topic has become increasingly relevant. Now more than ever, preserving the human-animal bond doesn’t only save an animal’s life–it can also save a person’s life. PAWS NY needed an asset that would stand out from other non-profit animal organizations in order to increase donations and volunteers for our mission of helping New York City’s most vulnerable residents remain with their pets. As huge proponents of the human-animal bond, we developed The Bridge in order to tell one such story of the power of this bond and how humans and their animal companions can positively impact each other's lives.
The Bridge is an animated short film about mental and animal health inspired by a true story about a man who is struggling with his mental health after being left by his wife, and, in parallel, a story about a dog abandoned by his family on the streets of New York City. As these two characters experience lives filled with rejection, we see their paths cross, and a quiet bond begin to grow. The film explores how this connection ultimately saves both of their lives.
GRAMMY® Award-winning artist Lou Reed’s famous song, “Perfect Day”–with its dark undertones and simple, haunting lyrics–was the perfect backdrop for the film. Because The Bridge is a film without dialogue, the music plays a crucial role in setting up the meaning of a “perfect day.” That definition changes as the narrative progresses from the irony of a perfect day in the beginning of the film–when both main characters feel hopeless and rejected–to the transition to a more literal meaning, when their bond leads to the possibility of better days ahead.
Sound effects are intentionally used to communicate the mental states of both man and dog. The dense and inhospitable sounds of the city, including traffic, sirens, and buzzing mimic the man's mental state, which is amplified by the loving, yet chilling, old recorded message that plays in the very beginning of the film.
Color plays an important role in the narrative of the film as well. The blue and gray tones are a metaphor for the inner mental states of both characters, as they struggle with depression and loneliness. Conversely, orange is used to represent hope and the road to healing, and first appears in short flashes triggered by the positive interactions they have with each other. The Bridge culminates in a fully transformed, bright, orange world reflecting the characters' now positive and hopeful mental states, following their now unbreakable human-animal bond.
Mixing 2D and 3D techniques, our characters’ surroundings are distorted and feature gothic-inspired angles. Our main character designs are also distinct from the light-hearted style of PIXAR animated characters. They were created with unusual proportions and edgy, scribbled textures to portray their stress and agony.
All of these elements helped us bring this story to life, and we feel it tells a universal story in a truly unique way.
In the first two months following the debut of The Bridge (January-March, 2023), PAWS NY saw an 11.2% increase in the number of individual donors to the organization and a whopping 32.2% increase in the amount of donations to the organization, compared to the same time last year. We also saw an increase in social media followers and engagement as we promoted and shared the film.
Since its launch, the film has earned 191 million organic impressions, with coverage in/on outlet like Fox News, Animation World Network, Animation Magazine, WCBS-FM, and organic support from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Modern Dog Magazine, Animal Wellness Magazine, and actor/activist Elaine Hendrix.
After screening at major global film festivals, The Bridge has won hearts around the world. Its long list of 2023 film festival and industry accolades includes two Cannes Lions, four D&AD Pencils, two Gold Clios, the Clio Health Grand and three Golds, the New York Festivals Health Grand Tower and two Golds, five ADC Gold Cubes, four Gold The One Show Pencils, Best Animated Film and Best Animation/Cinematography at the New York Cinematography AWARDS (NYCA), and Best Animated Short at the Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift.
Beyond these more traditional markers of success, we also saw an incredible audience response to The Bridge, with individuals commenting and sharing their own stories of loneliness and animal companionship alongside the video. It truly resonated with our audience and we also count that as a triumph!