Tag Archives: creativity

I am the spirit of dark and lonely water 

14 Apr

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a real and quite irrational fear of what I call ‘organised water’. This is basically water which has pooled or been channelled somewhere it shouldn’t be: a quarry, an aqueduct, a construction site, a canal, a reservoir. There’s no reason for it, I’ve never had a bad experience with water or known anyone who has.

ladybower sinkhole sink hole reservoir scarfolk. gemma critchley. blog

This fills me with dread. Image: FlickRiver.com

I suspect most people will have their own irrational fears. You might have stayed up after watching horror films, scared to go to sleep, listening out for noises that aren’t there. Maybe even years after watching, you remember feeling frightened and won’t revisit that particular film.

Turns out it’s not just horror films that do this. I recently discovered the BFI’s public information films collection: a treasure trove of sinister warnings, glittering darkly and crackling with the threat of doom.

One of the best examples of this is Lonely Water, a film that was designed to warn kids away from playing in unsafe water. I wasn’t even born until almost a decade after it was made, but I (think I) remember seeing this, or a variation of it at primary school as a kid.

The film was made in 1973, but it has all the hallmarks of what I’d consider to be an effective video for learning today:

  • The film’s approach is rooted in the Affective Context model. It makes you feel something; the Donald Pleasence voiceover is straight out of a Halloween film and the use of the hooded figure is just disturbing enough to jolt you out of your reality.
  • It has a clear objective: to stop children from drowning by showing the dangers of ‘lonely water’.
  • It understands its audience and appeals to their fears to make the message stick.
  • It’s short – under two minutes long: something many people forget the importance of today.
  • It has a compelling narrative and sub-story, separate to the voiceover: you want to know what happens to the boy who goes swimming.

In a time when filmmaking has never been more accessible, it’s good to take a step back and look at what makes a compelling, effective film, especially when it comes to creating film for learning. It’s refreshing to see that the stuff that was terrifying in 1973 works just as well at scaring the living daylights out of me today; and that somewhere along the line, the message from the film stuck with me. That’s Affective Context in action.

It’s hard to believe it wasn’t made by Scarfolk Council, but was instead produced by the UK government.


scarfolk council BFI public information film lonely water gemma critchley

Image: Scarfolk.blogspot.com


If you want to see more, the whole collection is available on the BFI Player.

Warning: may contain scenes that some viewers may find disturbing…

Life, death & dishes

22 Jul

I haven’t been watching a lot of ‘proper’ telly since the advent of Netflix, but finding myself with a bit of extra time on my hands in the evening of late, and being obsessed with househunting right now, I’ve been watching a lot of Location, Location, Location on All4.

And lo, it came to pass that I was subject to many adverts thanks to this. One of which is the most creative and captivating TV spot I’ve seen in a while: the new Finish Dishwasher tablets ad by those purveyors of creative wonder at Wieden+Kennedy:

There’s a whiff of Guinness and IKEA about the treatment. The voiceover in particular is reminiscent of the ‘tick follows tock’ in the iconic surfer campaign by AMV-BBDO:


It’s not a bad thing, though: it’s pretty hypnotic and the “Dishes” refrain gives the ad a compelling momentum.

I love the creative execution, the fact that you get the dishwasher’s point of view and narration, and that bizarre, Alice In Wonderland-esque, slightly nightmarish vision of the upside-down dishes being paired with milestone moments. It’s almost a reflection on how those occasions that are often the ‘biggest days of our lives’ aren’t even worth differentiating in the eyes of others.

Yes, I’m fully aware that a dishwasher tablet advert with existential aspirations is making me question how important everything in life really is. Sorry, not sorry. That’s what good advertising should have the power to do.

I’ll be interested to see how the concept plays out as a campaign. Potential, but it takes a bold agency and an even bolder client to not dilute the message as it flows through the channels.

All in all: powerful, playful stuff.

Heck, I don’t even have a dishwasher but this ad has made me wish I did so I could buy Finish for it!

The Creative Panic

10 Oct

I’ve shown love for my fellow bloggers before via my one a day blog, and I think it’s time you all witnessed the glory and wonder that is The Creative Panic.

Written (or should I say drawn) by Ben Hood, this is a collection of awesome drawings as part of the same project. He’s one of the most talented illustrators I’ve ever come across and this is my recent favourite:

get your geek the creative panic ben hood one a day project #oneaday gemma critchley illustration geek glasses nerd glasses drawing art

Dude also does commissions and prints if you so wish to adorn the walls of your office/abode.


#oneaday 105: mapping stereotypes

16 Apr

Today I thought I’d share with you to continue on a travelling theme as tonight will be my last night in Palma as you’re reading this, due to the fact that I scheduled this post on Wednesday, get me… Organiso! This is a collection of world maps according to stereotype. Of course, it’s just a bit of fun so don’t rag on me for laughing at it. You laughed too, admit it. Especially at the Switzerland one. Go on, give it a click. There are 12 of these images that make up a calendar of prejudice and you can buy them from Behance.net. The one below is the world according to the United states of America:the world map according to stereotypes behance yanko tsvetkov

Creativity and Hope

11 Jan

Well, it’s been a while. This is a good thing. I’ve taken time out (not just out of blogging, but out of life in general) and I’m back, better, rejuvenated, complete with new job and new feeling of calm for 2010.

So, the new year seems to have inspired people to do something different, to push themselves a bit more and to maybe leave their mark as the first decade of the new millennium ends and the next one begins. Or maybe people just have more time on their hands these days. Either way, I’m not complaining. The dawn of 2010 seems to have inspired creativity (or at least, the desire to create) in seemingly almost everyone I speak to. This is amazing. I love that my twitter feed is alive with the crackle and sparkle of new blog posts. I love that people are putting (figurative) pen to paper with new vigour. I don’t care if it’s tripe or if it’s about something I don’t give a hoot about. It’s happening, and that’s a Good Thing. I’ve linked to some of my friend’s new blogs in my blogroll, have a look and let them know if you like what they’re doing.

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