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Techniques
  • 2D Animation
  • Stop Motion
Case study

Frances - Grow

The Brief

1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, yet it’s a subject that nobody wants to talk about. Frances is one of the country’s most talented young musicians with an ever-growing following of young female fans. Her single “Grow” is a heartbreakingly beautiful ballad about supporting a friend who is experiencing domestic violence, something Refuge does for thousands of women every day. This music video aims to raise awareness of support for victims of domestic violence in a warm, emotive way, using a channel that appeals to young women.

The Solution 

In the film we see a woman slowly becoming more and more invisible to everyone around her. She goes about her life but people at the market, on her commute and at work can’t see her. Each night she goes home to a shadowy house where a menacing male figure waits for her. She gets more and more invisible as time passes until, finally, someone sees her and what she’s going through – a female character representing the Refuge charity. At the climax of the film, she is transformed by this intervention and becomes fully visible to everyone around her. The film ends with her looking in the mirror and we transition to live action to reveal the animated invisible woman is based on a real domestic violence survivor – Melanie.

The Technique

The film utilises a fascinating production technique in both 2D and stop-frame animation, helmed by Creative Director Ralph Karam. The backgrounds and background characters were printed out and tracked past camera in cycles over a 10 day shoot while the main characters of Melanie, Refuge and Frances were animated 2D at both Not To Scale and Le Cube studios. The technique and stillness of background characters epitomises the vicious cycle Melanie feels like she’s in and highlights her increasing level of isolation and invisibility while reliving the same cycle over and over again – like so many other women – everyday. When she encounters the character representing Refuge, the tone changes and immediately Melanie regains her colour and vibrancy as she is given the support to break this cycle and rebuild her life.

Watch the ‘Making Of’ below:

Grow is a beautiful, bittersweet ballad, and the lyrics chime perfectly with the more positive message we want to put out there about life after domestic violence; that there are people who can see what you’re going through, and things can get better.

Being the official music video to such a moving song lets us talk to young women in a powerful and unexpected manner. Using animation felt like a good way to tell what is a heart-breaking story in a sensitive and hopefully heart-warming way, and have fun playing with little details like Frances’ polka dot socks.
George Hackforth-Jones, Creative Director, BBH

The Result

Most domestic violence advertising uses cuts and bruises to shock the audience, but people are so used to this type of messaging they now just switch off. By sensitively visualising both Melanie’s narrative and that of Frances’ track, ‘Grow’ and disguising a positive message in a music video, it meant we could engage an audience of music fans in a charming and positive way to show them there is life after domestic violence. No matter how bad it gets, Refuge can see what you’re going through, there is hope and life can get better.

“It was immediately apparent once we saw the rough script from BBH London, coupled with Frances’ powerful music, that we had found a very special project worthy of Not To Scale’s full backing and devotion. Animation was the perfect medium to tell such a delicate story and Le Cube struck upon an ingenious production technique that, through it’s own cyclical device, struck a symbolic similarity with the cyclical pattern of abuse so many victims of domestic violence suffer. In so doing we have created a film that is impossible to watch through without feeling both sympathy and empathy for our main character. Needless to say, I am incredibly proud of everybody who worked so tirelessly, with limited resources, to deliver such a powerful and thought-provoking film.”

– Dan O’Rourke, Founder & Executive Producer of Not To Scale

Refuge is delighted to partner with the very talented Frances. Her beautiful and poignant song ‘Grow’ is a perfect fit for this incredibly powerful video.

Music is a powerful and effective way to reach people, especially younger people, with important messages. Thanks to Frances’ legions of fans, more young women will be made aware the support Refuge can provide.

Refuge is determined to use whatever creative means possible to reach young women. I am grateful to Frances and BBH for helping Refuge to bring this appalling crime out of the shadows, and I hope the ‘Grow’ video is watched and shared far and wide.
Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge
I feel so honoured to be a part of this campaign for Refuge. I want nothing more than to give something back with my music, and I hope that this incredibly important video which features my song, Grow, will resonate with people all over the world, and especially to women who are experiencing domestic violence and needing help as we speak. Refuge is here for them - we want people to realise they are not alone.
Frances, Musician
I was so pleased to take part in this video. I understand what it’s like to feel as though nobody knows what you are going through. I was living with domestic violence behind closed doors for years – I kept it all to myself and told my family and friends I was fine. My ex-partner had deliberately isolated me; his controlling ways made me isolate myself from people.

When I received support from Refuge, it was like somebody turning on a light. They supported me to me realise I was not alone and that I could have a safe and happy future.
Melanie Clarke, who the character is based on