From the start we could tell that the film “Hope”, from Spanish production company Blur, was not just any spot. When the Epica Awards jurors saw it on the screen, it was so shocking and heart-breaking that we felt a responsibility to reward it for its story, its execution and, above all, its message.
The film shows a father driving his wounded daughter to hospital in a war-torn country. When they finally arrive at the hospital, it no longer exists. It has been destroyed by a bomb.
The work was so disturbing that I hardly wanted to accept that things like this could happen, and were still happening to families suffering the consequences of war. It was unimaginable!
The fact the Red Cross is forced to make a film reiterating that “even wars have rules” is painful and regrettable. However, our faith in humanity is restored by the existence of professionals such as Pablo and his colleagues (director James Rouse, Michelle Rockwell, Irene Raciti, Pablo Herráiz and Alexander Melman, to name a few) who are aware that they can use their talents to contribute to society.
Although the commitment and conviction of the entire production team is visible in the spot, I was able to verify this when I visited its producer, Pablo Garcia Acón, at his office in Madrid. He was clearly emotional when he recounted a process that drew on the passion and altruism of the team to communicate a message that would leave a mark.
Describe the experience of making the film.
It was the perfect mix, firstly because of the message, which everyone should know yet most people do not. Basically our job is to sell things, and we are happy doing that. But when you are selling or communicating such a powerful message, everything is easier. I was very clear that this could not feel like a “spot”, but something real. I didn’t want to detect any advertising; it should be almost like a clip from a documentary. The budget did not give us much to work with, but the idea deserved it, so we went ahead enthusiastically.
What was it like to work with the director?
For me, James Rouse is one of the five best directors in the world and working with him was a privilege. The best thing was that when we told him the story, he loved it.
The Red Cross had warned us that the setting and details of the spot could not evoke a specific location, because as this happens in so many places, it should look as neutral as possible. We worked a lot with the client on the generic details: the costumes, the location and the props, among others. We had to delete and edit details that were not neutral.
The most beautiful part of something like this is working so closely with the client, in this case the Red Cross, in an altruistic way, and at the service of such an idea. The whole team put everything else on hold to make this film. Even in the middle of Christmas, nobody said no. James had many important projects to work on but decided to set aside everything to tell this story.
At one point we called a production house to ask them to help with editing some sections, free of charge because the budget was so low, and they agreed because they felt that it was incredibly important to get this message across.
How long did the whole process take?
Two and a half months in pre- and post-production. Filming was three days: one day of filming the scenes inside the car, and then two more days of shooting exteriors and the moving vehicle.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the production?
The most vital thing was that we needed to create reality – that this should not look like an advertisement. What we are showing is real. So the actors, the images and the story should capture that truth. In advertising we look for perfection; here we needed realism.
If you look at the video, there is no message that invites you to join or donate to the Red Cross. The goal was to raise awareness. Think about the sentence at the end: “Even wars have rules.” In the middle of the biggest tragedy in the world, there are things that are simply not done. I think we got that message across by showing it as realistically as possible.
What was the secret of this production?
Having had the good fortune to work with so many people with the talent to create something raw, strong and real.
Ana López is a journalist and communications specialist.
She represented Spain’s Marketing Directo on the Epica Awards jury.
This article appears in Epica Book 32, published in September 2019, featuring all the winners and selected high-scoring entries from the previous year's awards.