A campaign film for cinema release to support Autism Together

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Autism Together reached out to Contra in 2018 with a campaign idea that aimed to revolutionise the level of care people with autism receive. The idea focused on a true story around the harrowing effects autism has had on a young man, Austin and his mother Louise. The purpose of the film is to raise funds for the Future 50 appeal, a movement which looks to build a state of the art centre that specialises in providing vital in-patient care for adults with autism.

We met with Louise to hear her story in person. Calm and composed, she revealed the extent of the damage autism has had on family life as well as highlighting the devastating faults in Austin’s previous care. Louise explained the deterioration in Austin’s condition which developed into violent incidents, extensive self harm, aggression and running away from facilities due to fear and confusion.

In awe of Louise’s strength and after hearing her full story and how Autism Together have supported her family, we couldn’t wait to get behind the campaign.

So, how do we make a real impact whilst being sensitive to this true story? We worked tirelessly developing the creative and found the best approach would be to subtly portray the events in a more observational manner, such as peeking through doors that had been left ajar, allowing the audience to simply observe the shocking moments in Austin’s life. We achieved this by using as much natural light as possible whilst filling each scene with a light haze to give texture to the image. We wanted to use isolation as a main theme throughout the film, so we shot on vintage anamorphic lenses to give us a much wider frame which allowed us to position our actor in various places whilst also capturing the empty space around him.

Louise travelled to London to record a piece to camera in our studio which we planned to use to guide the narrative. Authenticity is key in storytelling, so we asked Louise various leading questions but allowed her to take control and tell her story in her own words, resulting in an emotionally charged interview.

Contra reached out to multiple organisations to help with the project and we were blown away with the amount of support we received. We want to say a huge thank you to Arri for lending the vintage anamorphic lenses, VMI for donating their Litepanel and Wave Studios who carried out the incredible sound design and Dolby sound mix for cinema. Not to mention our wonderful actors who gave up their time to make our idea a reality and Kirsty from Stagecoach for helping source our talent.

The film is powerful, hard hitting and even more eye opening than we could have hoped for. Despite Louise and Austin’s story being a personal journey, it’s not an isolated case and this film has really exposed that their experience is a drop in the ocean so the work Autism Together are doing is crucial for the future of those with autism.

You can donate £5 to the Future 50 appeal by texting AUTISM to 70456 and you can find out more about the project here.


By Emma Little, Junior Producer Contra Film.

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