When Em Cooper first heard about the outdoor wears brand Berghaus’ latest campaign she was taken immediately. A campaign developed with an oil-paint medium — a practice which the director and filmmaker applies to her live-action animation — it captured her. “The 20 second ad, takes us on a journey from the hectic buzz of the city into the quiet stillness of whispering leaves and grasses,” she tells It’s Nice That.
“I was actually on a walk in Cornwall when the detail of how I would make it came into my mind. I wanted every transformation to feel natural and effortless — the transitions working like silent slippages of paint with the brushstrokes loosening just a touch and then reforming quietly into the next moment. It is painstaking and labour-intensive work: I hand paint every single frame individually, but the results are magical, and I think viewers can sense the time and effort that has gone into it.”
Connecting with the idea of escaping the often suffocating concerns of the city, Em decided to share through her live-action animation the bigger picture that an outdoor perspective gives you. “I wanted to do my best to give the viewer that experience — I imagined a tangible breath to be taken at the moment of escaping the urban metropolis, and a sense of calm in the expanse that follows,” she explains. “I also enjoyed revelling in the medium of paint by morphing in a few unexpected details such as the zip becoming a hedgerow etc, to give the viewer a few twists on the journey.”
Always interested in communicating subjective experiences in her films, this advert, in thought different to much of her documentary or fiction film portfolio, retains a few of her hallmark traits with its sense of continuous movement and the evocative nature of a character’s experience without seeing much of the character themselves from the outside. “It is rooted in the point-of-view perspective which characterises my work, and gives a sense of the fleetingness of inner experience, weaving the real and the imaginary together into an impression of a subjective whole.”