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Nexus Studios and Neeraja Raj Create ‘The Girl Who Built A Rocket’

In looking to the heavens to engage the public in a conversation about the global water crisis, the thought-provoking 2D spot kicks off WaterAid’s new campaign.

WaterAid is part of a multinational effort to transform lives by improving access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation in the world's poorest communities. With the release of the 2D animated film The Girl Who Built A Rocket, the organization has brought a new angle to the conversation and exploration of engaging the public in the global water crisis. The thought-provoking advert coincides with three Mars missions going into orbit, and is the launch film for an ongoing campaign, by creative agency Don’t Panic.

The animated short film was produced by Nexus Studios and directed by Neeraja Raj (Meow or Never), with sound design by String and Tins, and distributed by WaterAid’s media agency The Kite Factory. The film features a specially composed soundtrack of David Bowie’s iconic “Life on Mars”- which is 50 years old this year – and includes a voiceover by award-winning journalist and newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald.

The touching film tells the story of Fara, a little girl from Madagascar, who dreams of being an astronaut. After hearing a news report that water has been detected on Mars, she attempts to fly in a homemade rocket from her home on the “Great Red Island” to the “Red Planet” where she hopes to collect water for her family.

“I have reported on some extraordinary feats of human endeavor over my long career as a journalist and newsreader; and yet something as apparently simple as ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water, still evades us,” shared McDonald. “I was astounded when I learned that a staggering 785 million people worldwide do not have clean water close to home. It’s something we all take for granted in this country – and is even more important in the middle of a pandemic. So, I am honored to add my voice to this charming animation and support WaterAid in its mission to make clean water, sanitation, and good hygiene a part of normal life, wherever you are.” 

“This is a heartfelt tale based on real-life humans and their very real struggles,” added Raj. “We approached it with honesty and humility and chose to tell it through the visual language of traditional 2D animation to achieve an emotional vibrancy that is unique to the medium”.

To ensure the authenticity in the portrayal of Madagascar, WaterAid worked closely with one of its field communications specialists, Ernest Randriarimalala. As an integral member of the ad development team, he advised on all aspects of the film, from Madagascar’s landscape to details of the characters’ appearances. The animation also provided the opportunity to create innovative storytelling at a time when travel has been restricted due to the pandemic.

“It was amazing to work on this new WaterAid film concept,” remarked Randriarimalala. “The characters in the animation are inspired by people I’ve met through my work and I advised on the uniqueness of Madagascar’s landscape and homes. We hope the storytelling captures the imagination of the public.”

One in ten people globally have no clean water close to home; in Madagascar, almost half the population lacks access. Having clean water close to home can help reduce the spread of disease and enable people to go to school or earn a living. It also helps communities better endure natural disasters.

“Fara has big dreams for her future, just like children the world over; yet for some, those ambitions may never be achieved because of the lack of basic necessities like clean water,” explained WaterAid mass engagement director Johnty Gray. “Unusually there will be no financial ask at all as we want to encourage as many people as possible to visit our website to get the full picture of what we do and why – something we can’t do in a 90 second ad. We believe this will increase consideration for our work, leading to more sustained support.”

The film will be aired on TV through an exclusive partnership with Channel 4 with peak spots in It’s a Sin, The Great, Secret Safari, The Great Pottery Throwdown and First Dates as well as delivery across all C4 owned, C4 Partners and All4. The campaign is also supported by social media, YouTube and Teads. The Girl Who Built A Rocket is the first time the international charity has used animation for TV.

Source: Nexus Studios