Gritty New Ads for Montana Meth Project Show Effect on Family and Friends
Known for its gritty and hard-hitting portrayal of meth use, the latest ads for the Montana Meth Project don't disappoint. Created by Venables Bell & Partners, the PSAs were directed Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream") and shot by DP Harris Savides ("Zodiac"). Final Cut Editor JD Smyth also lent his talent to the campaign.
While the first TV effort focused on the effects of meth on the individual user, the new spots, "Boyfriend," "Friends", "Mother," and "Parents," show the devastating impact the drug can have on the user's family and friends. The ads, featuring a dark ironic tone, were shot in a single continuous take. In "Boyfriend," a girl's voiceover tells how much her boyfriend loves and protects her while the visuals reveal he is selling her for sex in exchange for meth. Another spot, "Mother," shows a teen boy stealing from and hitting his mom even as his voiceover describes their close relationship.
"These spots were a little different in that everything happened in one shot," says Chip Waters, Copywriter. "It was great having JD on set, offering his editorial perspective. He definitely put our nerves at ease."
Forgoing the traditional spot format, Aronofsky and the agency decided on the single take approach to maintain an unflinching realism and directness to the campaign. This proved to be an interesting role for Final Cut Editor JD Smyth who was asked to provide on-set consultation and sound design.
"My role was to make sure each of the favorite takes would work in terms of pacing and within the time allowed," explains Smyth. "This was a fascinating process because there were between 30 - 40 takes done during the day. It was great to see the fruition of the continuous rehearsal, and how Darren [Aronofsky] and Harris [Savides] developed and balanced the scenes. The last few takes were wonderful and riveting with the scenes having their own rhythmic beats."
Smyth then worked on the sound, which conveyed and accentuated the reality of the situations. The spots were shot with a non-sync camera meaning Smyth and sound designer Brian Emerich had their work cut out for them.
"We captured wild sounds on-set," adds Smyth, "but keeping in mind the audience's perspective of the spot. [Art Director] Ray Andrade was conscientious that we only use sounds that were applicable to the environment. We integrated the sounds in a way that amplified the anxiety and unease in each spot, as well as distressing factors such as the crinkling plastic of the meth bag in 'Boyfriend.'"
Smyth also credits Art Director Ellen Springer and Copywriter Chip Waters for keeping the voiceovers casual and conversational, which made the visuals even more jarring. As with previous efforts, the campaign aims to maintain a realistic dialogue about meth use - to speak truthfully without being patronizing to teens.
"For me, this project was everything that editing involves without actually putting two shots together," concludes Smyth. "This was all about timing, context and combining the voiceover with sound. Darren did an amazing job. Doing the spots in one take is testimony to the Venables Bell team and Montana Meth Project Founder Tom Siebel's uncompromising commitment to fighting teen meth use."
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