I'm sure we're all familiar with those "one second a day" photos and videos, yeah? The time-lapsed pieces of a child growing up, a man getting older, or even the videos you make with 1 Second Everyday (if you don't have that app, get that app). Recognizing the unique storytelling potential of this concept is pretty easy, but its potential was realized in incredible fashion in this shocking ad for the charity organization Save the Children. In the video, a year in the life of a young girl is documented in one-second shots, and the transition from her happy suburban life in the UK to -- well -- you'll just have to see for yourself, but it's pretty astounding.
It's amazing how much information our brains can process in a single second, and as it turns out, a second is all this video needs per shot to tell this story. This filmic concept has been used many, many times, like in the examples I gave above, but rarely will you come across a full narrative -- one that tells more of a story than a human being aging or growing a beard.
As you'll see in the video soon enough, it documents a year in the life of a little girl living happily with her family in the UK. Eventually, things start to go very wrong -- and it's painful, and yes, pretty shocking. I thought about this for quite some time after my 10th or 11th viewing of the ad, about why it touched me, and what I realized was that there are several things at work here.
But first, take a look at the video:
First of all, the video is only a minute and a half long, which gives you no time to ease into the emotional responses to what you're viewing. That first image of a super cute kid blowing out her birthday candles with an adoring family behind her -- precious! Fast forward a minute or so and you see that haunting image of her -- the tear-soaked thousand-yard star of a kid that looks so much older than she did a year ago, no family other than her mother offering her a nondescript dessert in a metal pan with a single candle. The juxtaposition is powerful especially because the transition from the picturesque image to the dreary one happens so quickly.
The other thing that came to mind as to why this video was so powerful was that we're given such minimal information -- and yet so much. Let me explain. We don't know what's happening on a political, societal, or national level -- why people are evacuating, why the military is involved, what that explosion was, or why the girl and her mother are wearing hospital gowns at the end. All we know is that this girl's life changes dramatically. However, we know so much about this girl. We know she's loved, she likes sweets, she's musical, she likes sports, she's smart, she got kissed by a boy. We know she has that childlike innocence when she cozies up to her teddy bear at night. We know she's happy -- until all of a sudden she's not.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on the concept of making a film with second-long shots? Let us know in the comments below. (I know that this ad is politically charged, but let's keep the discussion focused on filmmaking.)
[via Save the Children]