The Partnership at Drugfree.org has launched a :30 PSA nationwide via DDB New York and The Colony. Directed by The Colony’s David Gaddie, the spot features a teenager whose age increases and whose health deteriorates visibly during an unbroken monologue to camera. The effect was achieved through a combination of clever shoot techniques and subtle postproduction that surprises audiences.
The DDB brief called for viewers to arrive at the end of the spot, to find themselves looking at an unexpectedly older, drug-damaged teen, without noticing the changes as they happened.
Gaddie said the concept provided an interesting challenge on a technical level, requiring him to deliver substantial aging and changes in appearance without using any obvious tricks. He came up with the idea of prerecording and locking the audio first so the actor could perfectly learn his lip sync. The team could then shoot many different matched passes to this audio, while the actor’s hair and makeup were altered between shots. The spot was shot in three main plates, from older to younger, and the actor’s hair was shortened between each plate, giving him a younger look. The footage was then reassembled in reverse order and seamlessly merged at The Colony’s design, animation and VFX studio, Afterparty, to deliver a progression from younger to older and the illusion of aging before the audience’s eyes.
The commercial was shot by New York DOP William Rexer. Digital effects were created by The Colony’s design, animation and VFX studio, Afterparty. Sound design was contributed by Nylon Studios.