Client

McCann New York

Brand

March For Our Lives

Production Company

The Mill

Director

Ben Smith, The Mill

Capabilities

Direction / Live-Action / Visual Effects / Colour

Brief

Create a film in partnership with March for Our Lives and McCann New York that features a metaphorical representation of the aftermath of a mass shooting, expressed through the familiar visual of a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Approach

A team of passionate creatives from The Mill and McCann donated numerous hours of craft to bring this film to life. Shot in a Los Angeles high school, the production team constructed and captured as much of the Rube Goldberg motion as possible in camera, seamlessly connected the dots and tying missing pieces together through fully integrated visual effects.

Impact

The result is a powerful and impactful music video that urges voters to support politicians who back sensible gun legislation. Taking the internet by storm, the film has been written up and featured in Ad Age, Teen Vogue, and the Huffington Post, and played on MTV and across Times Square’s massive video screens. It also won a total of 6 prestigious Clio Awards.

“We felt certain that the project was going to be visually memorable, but to be successful, we really needed to make the viewer feel something. One way to do that is to show people in danger. ”
Ben Smith, ECD from The Mill

*** BREAKING: Three dead, including gunman, in Jacksonville shooting at Madden video game tournament. ***

Bewilderment and shock spread through set as this message flashed across the crew’s devices. It was day two of filming The Most Vicious Cycle; the team was hurriedly finalizing the memorial section honoring the countless victims of gun related violence in America. Mill EP Christina Thompson recalled, “It was pretty sobering to read that news amidst what we were doing that day. A strong reminder of why we were all there in the first place.”

Under the usual pressure of production schedules, the team swiftly added a Jacksonville placard to the scene and continued with the shoot.

Designed to inspire younger generations to vote for representatives who advocate for gun control in the November ’18 midterms, The Most Vicious Cycle is a metaphoric protest film that visualizes, and poignantly repeats, the predictable series of events that follows each mass shooting.

As a creative and production partner, we were asked to help elevate the metaphors and develop the concept of this film into an achievable script, while amplifying the humanity.

With the aim to reach a younger audience, finding the right musical partner for the project was incredibly important. The McCann team had previously collaborated with Kesha, and it quickly became apparent that she and her brother, Sage, had a profound interest in the project; Sage had written “Safe” in the immediate wake of the Parkland shooting, as a message to the establishment on behalf of his generation.

“There was an enormous sense of camaraderie on set, everyone chipped in to help. ”
Gabrielle Levy, producer from McCann.

To create the most visceral and impactful film, the team was determined to capture as much as possible practically. This required serious help from production designer Ron Beach and Full-Scale Effects, who worked tirelessly to bring tricky practical effects –water bucket posters, skateboard bubble machine, and cell phone dominos – to life.

Due to the film’s single camera move concept, the initial editorial task was about finding the best take for each scene. The VFX team then blended scenes together seamlessly, using re-projection techniques to create the endless loop seen in the film.