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This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an annual observance dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. To mark the initiative, Boston-based HATCH The Agency partnered with Station Film and award-winning director Brendan Gibbons to create “It’s Always There,” a powerful anti-child abuse PSA for the Know+Tell initiative of the Granite State Children’s Alliance. The PSA is a quiet and profound reflection on the impact sexual, physical or mental child abuse can have on a person for their entire life, and a reminder intervention is the first step for getting a young life back on track.
“The intention behind ‘It’s Always There’ was always to communicate a truth about abuse,” said Rick McHugh, Executive Creative Officer of HATCH The Agency. “And it’s a truth that other spots addressing the issue don’t always examine - that the pain of abuse, the effects of abuse, stay with the person long into adulthood. Those effects can be profound. But with intervention, support and counseling, kids can learn to deal with what’s happened to them and go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.”
The PSA portrays a quiet walk through a house empty of people as a child’s voice narrates his first instance of abuse at a party in the bathroom. The walk ends in a sitting room, where we find an old man sitting in his chair by the window, he speaks and finishes the story. It was his story all along.
Knowandtell.org was born from Granite State Children’s Alliance as a division set up to educate, inform and protect. Since 2018, the program has been there to advocate for children and their loved ones confronting child abuse.
“The script Rick wrote was powerfully simple,” said director Brendon Gibbons. “Everything always starts and ends with the writing. It made me think about child abuse in a way I never had before.”
Gibbons was confident about finding an older actor who could bring a sense of long-simmering vulnerability, but casting the child was less certain. “It’s such a heavy subject and the words are so delicate,” Gibbons explained. “But my longtime casting partner, Shane Liem, was able to find some subtle young actors. And, like with our man, the boy we chose rose instantly to the top. You can hear his innocence being tested in his delivery.”
Know + Tell’s “It’s Always There” is part of HATCH The Agency’s ongoing work for good initiatives. Hatch partnered with Granite Children’s Alliance after a friend of McHugh’s who has worked with the organization for years made the introduction.
“Knowing how important the cause is, we jumped at the chance to help,” McHugh said. “While Brendan is probably best known as one of the industry’s top comedy directors, he is just really great at telling a story, whatever that story is. He knows how to pull on the emotional levers to make people feel and that’s what ‘It’s Always There’ was all about.”
Agency: HATCH The Agency
Executive Creative Director/Copywriter: Rick McHugh
Production company: Station Film
Director: Brendan Gibbons
Founding Partner: Caroline Gibney
Founding Partner: Stephen Orent
Producer: Elizabeth Reichert
DOP: Doug Chamberlain
Editorial Co.: Peel & Eat
Editor: Robert Lucente
Colorist: Flip Kotsishevkiy
Post Executive Producer: Joel Walter
Sound: Soundtrack Boston
Engineer: Mike Secher