*Trigger warning: violence, sexual assault, suicide, self harm.*
London is seen as a city where anything is possible and people can thrive. The reality is that life there can be incredibly difficult. Every day, young Londoners are marginalised and criminalised by a system that should instead be supporting them. The situations these young people find themselves in can be difficult, dangerous and traumatic and without the right support they could find themselves in an even worse position.
Safer London is a charity that works to make sure this cycle is addressed. They work with young Londoners to make sure that they can live lives safe from exploitation, violence and criminality. And not as a short term fix, but a sustainable approach to the welfare of these people.
As you can probably imagine, the charity has countless stories of the young people they’ve supported and the traumatic circumstances that have seen them referred to Safer London. Sharing these stories is important. It shows the wide reaching nature of some of the challenges young Londoners face, but also the necessity of Safer London’s work. The difficulty is, how can these stories be safely shared?
Safer London tasked us with creating case study animations that did just that.
First and foremost, we needed to understand the stories that we would be sharing as part of the animations. Frankly, the stories were deeply upsetting, but it became immediately clear why these stories needed to be shared and the need for anonymity. These stories are undoubtedly moving, but the priority for everyone involved was making sure that the real young Londoner’s whose experiences we were sharing were safe.
The next challenge was how we visualised the stories that we were sharing. The subject matter for each film involved suicide, domestic violence, self-harm and sexual assault. We had to make sure that we visualised this in a sensitive way, choosing to be interpretive rather than direct. Through initial stylesheets and eventually storyboards (using full digital assets) we were able to make sure that this was the case. They also helped guide the story so that the experiences we were sharing didn’t become too overwhelming for the audience. After all, we still needed the audience to be in a place to take action and support the charity.
The storyboards were quickly signed off and we were able to get into the animation phase. We always wanted these animations to feel filmic. It’s the vision that we had shared with Safer London and we were really passionate about making it a reality. The emphasis in the animation stage was on subtle movement, human expressions and filmic lighting and shadow. We wanted the film to have a distinctive style not only in its illustrations but also the way the film came together through animation. It took a lot of work, but we feel like we were able to really bring the stories to life and to create animations that felt filmic and created an emotional response in the audience.
Schedules and timelines
Sharing lived experience is so important. It’s how we learn, it can be what drives us to enact change and this is what these animations will help to do. They become part of voicing the challenges that young Londoners face and evidence that change is possible. We love these films because of what they will help Safer London to do and we’re so grateful for being trusted with this opportunity.