Words: Sarah Stone, Director and Founder of Stone Barrell
Stone Barrell’s first animated video appeal. Sharing the stories of people bravely expressing their freedom of religion in difficult contexts.
We’re pretty proud of I Will Stand. The multifaceted appeal is the result of months of work, hours of conversations, and the most intense Zoom interviews I have ever done. (Interviewing seven people back-to-back on a group call through a translator at 9am on a Thursday morning is not something I’d recommend…) But none of those things are the reason why we’re proud of it.
The reason we love I Will Stand is because we believe it accurately portrays the hearts and stories of three truly courageous people. People who are living in incredibly challenging situations, and whose stories most supporters of BMS World Mission would never have got to hear.
From initial concept to final delivery, Stone Barrell was involved in every aspect of BMS World Mission’s 2021 harvest appeal. The Coronavirus pandemic meant that we needed to pivot from the original appeal idea and come up with a new concept, quickly. We believed that being unable to film in any project locations opened up a unique opportunity for BMS – the opportunity to focus on work they don’t get to talk about much because of security issues. And so I Will Stand was born.
I Will Stand shares the stories of three Christians who are living out their faith in places where it is dangerous to do so. We decided to use animation and voice artists, and not mention any real names or specific locations, so that J, Z and K (who feature in the video) would feel safe sharing their stories. I interviewed them (as well as many other brave people who appear in other parts of the appeal) and scripted the feature video, and then Jacob animated it to bring it to life beautifully, working with BMS’ designer Joshua, who drew all the characters and scenes.
We tried to ensure that all of our artistic decisions accurately presented the stories we were sharing. From using positive language that reflected J, Z and K’s incredibly faithful and courageous characters, to incorporating bright colours and flowers into the animation to portray the ways in which they are flourishing and helping others, we wanted I Will Stand to be an appeal that J, Z and K felt was theirs. We also wanted it to be one that UK Christians wanted to get behind – and one that was easy for them to use.
As well as the feature video, we made the decision to create J, Z and K’s videos as individual, shorter videos, so churches that didn’t have time to share the full video could still share part of the appeal with their congregations, and so that they would be more attractive to watch and share on social media. We also came up with service ideas, developed a Leader’s Guide for church ministers wanting to run an I Will Stand service, wrote two features for BMS’ flagship magazine Engage to promote the appeal, and worked with BMS on a direct mail campaign, too.
With every resource we created, we wanted the message to be clear and empowering – people are courageously expressing their faith in places where it’s culturally or legally difficult to do so, and you can stand with them by praying, giving and sharing their stories.
I Will Stand harvest services are being run and planned as we write, so we’re excited to see how this appeal raises awareness and financial support for BMS. Support that will translate into emotional, spiritual and practical help for people like J, Z and K. But for now, we’ll have to be happy with BMS’ enthusiastic response!
“From coming up with the initial concept, to executing a beautiful final product, Stone Barrell was creative, insightful and brilliant to work with,” says BMS Co-Director for Communications, Ben Drabble. “They crafted our key fundraising appeal for the year, managing to create something truly original out of sensitive and potentially difficult subject matter.
“We would recommend Stone Barrell without hesitation as an agency that is passionate about and highly skilled at the work they do – producing creative fundraising and communications assets for organisations doing good in the world.”