Nightmarish PSAs Depict Horrors of Human Trafficking

By Erik Oster 

A group of New York ad professionals and filmmakers–minus the aid of any agency–including Point Blank Productions director Kim Dempster collaborated on “#StopTheNightmare,” a series of PSAs for Freedom For All, a non-profit created by former Ford Models CEO Katie Ford to end slavery.

“#StopTheNightmare” includes three, 30-second PSAs dealing with the horrors of human trafficking and sex slavery, each ending with the number for a hotline viewers can call to report or get confidential help. The spots highlight the surreal, nightmarish aspects of human trafficking, leaving viewers with the impression of the horrors faced by victims of human trafficking. “Indebted” is probably the most effective of these, showing a man who trades his passport for a card that says “labor.”


Through the nightmarish scenario that follows we learn that he faces this fate for the rest of his life. “Sex Slavery” uses similarly nightmarish imagery to implicate the horrors of a life in the sex trade. “Hidden in Plain Sight,” while not as emotionally affecting, delivers the important message (especially for those who fail to realize the scope of this global problem) that there are over 27 million people being trafficked around the world today. Taken as a whole, “#StopTheNightmare” is an effective, well-conceived statement, and a distinct departure from PSAs utilizing voiceover to educate viewers, opting instead to deliver a visual message about the nightmarish nature of the problem.

“The more I learned about modern-day slavery, all I could say was, ‘this is a nightmare,’ and that was the basis of our visual narrative — the nightmare of what people dream the first night they realize they have been forced into bondage,” explains Dempster.

Dempster enlisted the help of colleagues Lisa Kwon (Kwoni Productions) and Hooligan senior editor Peter Mostertto produce the PSAs, which included a four-month post-production process that included ” photo-real CG environments created by VFX companies Republic and Piranha.” Stick around for credits and the “Sex Slavery” PSA after the jump.

Client: FREEDOM FOR ALL/Katie Ford
Director: Kim Dempster | Point Blank Productions
Producer: Alysse Besahler
Producer: Jonna Mattingly
DP: Trish Govoni |
Art Director: Mario Fuentes
Wardrobe: Irene Bilo
Makeup: Tracy Crystal
Hair: Richard Keo
Graphics/Post Producer: Lisa Kwon
Editor: Peter Mostert | Hooligan
Flame: Carmen Maxky |Goodpenny (“Indebted”)
Flame: Alex Catchpoole | TANQ (“Hidden In Plain Sight”)
Smoke: The Colony (“Drowning”)
Visual Effects: Republic (“Drowning”)
Visual Effects: Piranha (“Indebted”)
Colorist: Gene Curley | Nice Shoes
Sound Design/Mix: Weston Fonger | Yessian (“Indebted”)
Music/Final Mix: Casey Chester |Audible Playground (“Hidden In Plain Sight” & “Drowning”)