Area 23, Change the Ref and Great Guns use handwriting of Parkland shooting victim to change gun laws

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Area 23, Change the Ref, and Great Guns team up to launch the campaign film for ‘Posts Into Letters’, an initiative that transforms social media posts into handwritten letters to petition members of Congress to introduce stricter gun control laws. The initiative was developed in reaction to the outpouring of social media posts in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

‘Posts Into Letters’ is an online platform that allows anyone to turn their social media posts into handwritten letters to either print out and mail themselves or be done automatically. The font was developed using the handwriting of Joaquin Oliver – one of 15 students killed during February’s mass shooting. His handwriting is donated by his parents, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, who are co-founders of non-profit organisation Change The Ref.

Each mass shooting is followed by a huge spike in Americans voicing their frustrations and calling for change online. However, letters to Congress are still the most effective way to influence politicians, according to 96% of Capitol Hill staff. Using this insight, FCB Health Network’s Area 23 developed the ‘Posts Into Letters’ to harness social media momentum and transform sentiments into action.

Great Guns was responsible for producing the moving online video. Shot by director Chris Neal, the hard-hitting film features Parkland students and family members of the victims, who explain the importance behind the initiative. In a candid interview, Manuel Oliver shares his ambition for ‘Posts Into Letters’ to give voice to Joaquin, and to create a movement that Congress can’t ignore. Fittingly, the film features music written and performed by the Parkland Drama Club in memory of the friends they lost.

Laura Gregory, CEO and Executive Producer of Great Guns:

The Area 23 team approached us with the deck for ‘Posts Into Letters’ and we were on the plane within hours of reading it. We knew that, properly executed, an idea as powerful as this would impact their cause in a way nobody would be able to ignore. Director Chris Neal, his DOP Chris Weatherly, and our EP Thom Fennessey managed to beat the bad weather but the Area 23 agency team drove 21 hours through ice and blizzards when the snow storms hit NY to get to Parkland. They made it with a few hours to spare, exhausted but ready to work. After three days filming, they finished the trip by joining the school for the ‘March for Our Lives’ rally and filming that too. It was a truly humbling experience for all; this movement will make history and remain in our hearts.

Director Chris Neal:

Our responsibility as filmmakers is to capture events and translate them into emotional content. We were so lucky to have so many students and advocates in Parkland come forward and share their stories and determination with us. Seeing tens of thousands pull together and turn their individual shock, frustration and grief into one unified voice for change was incredibly moving and powerful. It was a real labour of love and passion, which I hope will inspire others to stand up against archaic gun laws, write to the political representatives, and advocate for change. It was an honour to be a part of this important venture.

Executive Producer, Thom Fennessey:

As a gun control advocate, I wasn’t quite prepared for my own emotional reaction when I arrived at the school to start filming. It was overwhelming seeing the school surrounded by police cars, flowers, candles, and a mile-long fence of signs professing love and support. Very fortunately, in a short period of time we were able to meet so many ardent and passionate advocates as they prepared for the march, who were willing to share with us their experiences, strength and hope. They were all amazing and inspiring.

‘Post Into Letters’ has already been highlighted by Parkland student and #NeverAgain activist, David Hogg.

Credits

  • Global Creative Partner, FCB Global: Fred Levron
  • Agency: Area 23 – An FCB Health Company
  • Managing Director, ECD: Tim Hawkey
  • Group Creative Director, SVP: Bernardo Romero
  • Creative Director, VP: Andy Gerchak
  • Creative Director, VP: Vinny NG
  • Associate Creative Director: Fabio Ozorio
  • Associate Creative Director: Guillermo Aracena
  • Senior Copywriter: Clay MacGuire
  • Art Director: Natasha Winter-Best
  • Account Executive: Whitney Herman
  • Producer: Elan Schoonmaker
  • Associate Creative Director, VP: Ronnie Caltabiano
  • Director of Technology: Bill Hanff
  •  Production Company: Great Guns
  • Executive Producer: Laura Gregory and Thom Fennessey
  • Director: Chris Neal
  • DOP:  Chris Weatherly