This is Ella

An urgent and emotive wake-up call to the world about the deadly cost of air pollution.

Every Breath Matters

Project TypeVideo & animation
A black and white photo of Ella Kissi-Debrah in front of a grey map of South London

This is the story of 9-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, whose death has become a legal and symbolic focus in the fight for clean air.

Every Breath Matters campaigns for a world in which everyone will breathe clean air by 2030. To do so, they asked us to create a powerful, personal social media video for World Environment Day (5 June).

We knew people had to see Ella’s face to feel the pain and outrage her story demands. Her mother kindly gave us permission to use a beautiful, poignant photograph – and it became a powerful emotional anchor for the entire piece.

For the rest of the visuals, we collaged different media – photography, texture, geometric and organic shapes, and data visualization – to build a dynamic, restless visual story.

Ella’s story is also told through the sound design from composer Tim Cowie. The sounds of a child inhaling and exhaling, traffic, a bleeping heart monitor, then silence.

Launched on World Environment Day 2019, the video immediately gained positive engagement on social media. But the biggest compliment came from Ella’s mother Rosamund, who celebrated it as the best telling yet of her daughter’s story.

A still from the This is Ella video. It includes a swarm of black particles and text that reads '464,486 children die from breathing polluted air every year'.'
Whiteboard sketches of visual ideas for the This is Ella video.
A storyboard of several stills planning the flow of visuals for the This is Ella video.
Several graphic and textures planning the visual style of the This is Ella video. It includes shades of grey and red highlight, red bubbles, grungy textures and a gray map of London.
A still from the This is Ella video with text that reads '93% of children in the world are breathing toxic air right now'. The source is the World Health Organization.
A still from the This is Ella video. It includes a graphic of a child on a swing with labels of body parts affected by air pollution including the brain, heart, lungs and bones. There is text that reads: 'When children breathe polluted air it rreversibly damages their...'. Heart is highlighted in red, completing the sentence.
An animated graphic from the This is Ella video. It shows an image of Ella Kissi-Debrah over a map of London. Text animates in that reads 'In just over 2 years, she was taken to hospital 28 times...''. The video then transitions to a black background with the text 'Then she died'.

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