McCann creates hard-hitting film for Refuge starring Maxine Peake

Published on June 3, 2020

McCann Bristol has partnered with domestic abuse charity, Refuge, to create a short film starring award-winning actor Maxine Peake, drawing attention to the shocking rise in violence against women during lockdown.

Peake stars alongside TV, film and stage actor, Lex Shrapnel, in Surfaces, which is available to view here or at at https://www.refuge.org.uk/

The 10-minute story was written by McCann Bristol’s Group Executive Creative Director, Jon Elsom, and directed by Steve Reeves. It features characters Alix and Richard, a married couple whose whirlwind romance quickly descended into physical and mental abuse.

The film details a video call between the two during lockdown. At first, Alix appears cool and heartless, saying she’s simply left him. But all is not as it seems. The conversation gradually reveals the horror of Richard’s controlling coercion and violence throughout their relationship, culminating in a shocking revelation.

Surfaces sends a clear message of hope to survivors. Whether they have already fled their perpetrator, or are still living in constant fear, it tells them that there is a life after abuse, and that support is available – and that they are not alone. The film ends with details of how to get in touch with Refuge.

Since the PM’s request for people to stay at home in March, calls and contacts to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline have rocketed by 66 per cent, with visits to its website rising ten-fold.

The film is a follow-up to the spectacularly successful Turn To Us campaign created by our Bristol team for Refuge in 2019. It featured reversible poems that told two opposing stories depending on which way they were read. Top to bottom, they depicted family bliss. But turned on their head, they reflected the reality of families under siege from abusive men. The campaign collected a Cannes Lion, D&AD Pencil, One Show Pencil and nine Creative Circle awards.