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You can’t fake purpose

The coronavirus has forced everyone to assess what is important to them, and one important word keeps coming up. Not pivot, distancing or remote.


Consumers are demanding purpose. We are no longer happy with businesses that are just out to make a profit. We want to know what their greater purpose is. And so businesses are having to take a hard look at themselves to actually work out, if not for profit alone, what is their purpose. And is it a purpose the greater world is happy to get behind? As a film production company that has deliberately worked with purpose-led brands for 10 years, and helps these organisations to communicate their purpose, I thought now might be a nice moment to share where my own purpose came from.

I actually have a group of bullies in my first year of high school to thank for my career in purpose-led storytelling. Back at 13 years old, I was grappling with the impact of being bullied for not being the sportiest kid. As a big Wallace and Gromit fan, I thought it would be interesting to try and tell my little story through stopmotion.

Little did I know that stopmotion is not the quickest process — on average they film 2–3 seconds of film each day on Wallace and Gromit.

I was extremely fortunate to have a media teacher at my new high school (after moving schools having being so severely bullied) that loved my enthusiasm and so gave me full access to the resources of the media centre to help see my dream come to life.

I set myself up in a corner of one of the rooms and animated my first short film called ‘Larry’. Based on my own experiences of being bullied, I painstakingly created my film, taking photo by photo, moving my plasticine characters minuscule amounts at a time.

I raided my Mum’s art supplies (lucky she was an art teacher!) to make all of the miniature film sets and recruited all of my friends and teachers to act out the voices of the film.

A little longer than expected, 9 months later I had created my first film. A 9 minute stopmotion film called ‘Larry’. By no means a masterpiece, but it was too late… I had caught the filmmaking bug!

To my great surprise and delight, the film went on to win first place at awards all around the world. It wasn’t the quality of the filmmaking that people connected with, but the story. People related to the purpose of the film.

I even went on to make a sequel to the film, ‘Barry’ to show the story from the perspective of the bully that you can check out too.

Fast forward almost two decades and I am still just as passionate about creating purpose-led stories as I was as a 13 year old.

Audiences connect with purpose.

As a side note — the film is a great resource if you are supporting any children struggling with bullying at school.

Henry Smith

Henry is one of those rare creative types who can switch from creativity and ideation to logistics and screen business with the elegance of those fancy quick costume change acts. He is also the co-founder of Taste Creative.

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