Starring four girls from the US, Brazil, Mexico and France, Andrew Lang’s latest work for Dove and Ogilvy UK reveals what’s really going on behind young girls’ typical response of “I’m fine”. We spoke to Andrew about the making of the films and what it was like to work with the girls, all of whom were real, non-actors. Each of them co-wrote and performed their own song, based on their life experiences and personal issues with self-esteem.
Q: The film is a unique mix of real-life content and animation. What did you first think when you read this script?
Andrew Lang: The psychological pressures faced by teenagers in the age of social media is an important topic, which would naturally be the territory of a documentary. When I read the script, I was excited by the chance to come at this from a whole new direction and working alongside an animation company. Animation is a great medium for showing how subjective, creative and even wild our thoughts can be. Through it, we had the opportunity to create an impression of the actual experience of being inside someone’s head. That was really exciting.
Q: How did you research the topic Dove is tackling to get inside the world of young girls?
AL: The most satisfying part of this project was getting to know these five people from five different countries, and hearing about their hopes, dreams, frustrations and doubts. It took me back to my documentary-making days and the experience of sitting down with someone and having a really good chat about their life. I interviewed each of the girls for about an hour, and during that time it was amazing how they opened up. There was a sense that the topic we had hit upon was providing a much-needed chance to discuss things they felt quite deeply about, but perhaps hadn’t talked about before.
Q: How did the process of turning the interviews into songs and animation work?
AL: Once the initial interviews had been done, the team at Ogilvy set to work with the girls and local lyricist, to turn the main points of their lives into a piece of performance poetry. Once the song was recorded, Frankie Swan (Animation Director at Picasso Pictures) conceptualised the animation. He did a great job of dreaming up an animated interpretation of these psychological landscapes! The whole project was a uniquely collaborative process. Usually, I just direct a film, but on this occasion, there was a research process, interviews, a song to write and record, and an animation to be done. There was a lot of back and forth, so thankfully everyone was an absolute pleasure to work with! Props to Lora Brisland, the Agency Producer, for keeping the many different parts of this machine moving in the same direction!
Q: What was the process like of directing children who had no acting experience?
AL: The more I direct children the more I enjoy it. Kids don’t need to have been taught how to act in order to turn in convincing performances. Their emotions tend to be much more available to them than they are to adults. It’s just a case of helping them to key into the right emotion, and then turning over!
This piece was published by LBB on 30 August 2018.