Official music video by Julia Michaels performing “If You Need Me” inspired by the “Sorry For Your Loss” community on Facebook.
Sorry For Your Loss is a half-hour drama on Facebook Watch that stars Elizabeth Olsen as Leigh Shaw, a young widow struggling to put her life back together in the wake of her husband’s unexpected death. The show is simultaneously devastating and uplifting, with grounded, flawed characters desperate to find humor anywhere they can. The series dives into grief as an unavoidable, universal, transformative part of life. Leigh’s journey will teach us that grief is not something merely to endure, medicate away or “muscle through,” but an essential part of the human experience. Watch Season 1 of Sorry For Your Loss on Facebook Watch Now. All-new episodes Tuesdays, beginning October 1.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP
Creative Director, Global Brand Partnerships: David Tomlinson Global Director Brand Partnerships: Zac Froud Brand Partnerships Manager, Global: Laura Brennan Director, Brand Partnerships, Republic Records: Gina Abatangelo
The Facebook Watch original series, “Sorry For Your Loss”, focuses on a woman navigating the grieving process after losing a spouse. Because of the unique nature of the series that lives on a social media platform, the support group that has banded together over Facebook in the wake of the show has been a first of its kind.
On the heels of the massive success of the show’s first season, Facebook Watch and Universal Music Group joined forces with musician Julia Michaels to create an original song for the series that focused on processing the complicated emotions that come from losing a loved one and finding community in unexpected places.
Julia wanted to honor the women featured in the show as well as the ones who found solace in both the series and Facebook group. She did that brilliantly with the song, “If You Need Me”, written specifically for the show; but not until she met with the women from the series, heard their stories and pulled inspiration from their strength and experiences.
Her lyric, “I’ll be by your side, even if I’m not next to you“, wove a perfect storyline of how the series and Facebook support groups are helping anyone suffering from the loss of a loved one find comfort in complete strangers.
“When I read all the comments in ‘Sorry For Your Loss‘ about everybody sort of being there for each other, I wanted to write the song from that angle,” Julia says in the behind-the-scenes video. “I think that’s one of the best parts about my job, even though it can be pretty overwhelming, is if I can channel someone’s feelings and put them into a song. Even when somebody is not with you, you can still feel them with you. My biggest takeaway is for people to feel that they are not alone.”
CAPTURING THE MAGIC
Facebook Watch and Universal Music Group wanted to ensure whoever they worked with to bring this project to life knew how to effectively capture authenticity and raw emotion on film. We have been trusted by multiple clients to handle delicate stories and deliver powerful messages, and we were honored to have been selected to bring this integrated campaign to life.
Evolve Studios’ director Blaine Hogan said the magic of the end result was symbolic of how the entire production came together. Because Julia was there when these women were being interviewed, she was literally responding to what these women were saying, while simultaneously helping to create the behind-the-scenes footage in real time.
“WHILE WE WERE PIECING TOGETHER THE SET, JULIA AND HER TEAM ARE LAYING DOWN DRUM tracks in the middle of the night. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE AMAZING PROJECTS WHERE YOU LOOK AT IT, AND YOU WONDER, ‘HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN?'”
Julia beautifully and thoughtfully transformed the heart-wrenching emotion from the stories of these women into a song that conveyed a message of hope. Our task was to bring that same emotion to life with a transformative performance video and an accompanying behind-the-scenes piece that conveyed Julia’s inspiration, her writing process and a look into the production as well as unveiling the heart that everyone poured into this project.
We didn’t do it alone
Visualizing the journey from hopelessness and isolation to finding that feeling of support, encouragement, and even hope was the challenge issued to us by Facebook Watch and Universal Music Group. We needed a way to illustrate and capture the intangible parts of heartache on film.
In order to do that effectively, we worked together with Facebook Watch and Universal Music Group to incorporate some of the women from the show’s community. Five women were selected by the Facebook Watch team to meet with Julia, interview with our creative team, and share their stories. Their interviews on set were incredibly powerful and transcended anything we might have predicted. In fact, their raw emotion and transparency transformed the tone of the set on the day of filming.
Blaine said his approach to interviewing these women came from a place of wanting to honor their story, not just approaching it as another commercial job.
“These women shouldn’t feel like we’re trying to get something from them, or that they need to craft their answers to fit what they think someone else wants to hear – we wanted to give them safety, and a platform to be honest with whatever they were willing to share.”
He added that whether you’re a crew member or talent or a subject, the feeling of walking onto set to share your story can be incredibly overwhelming.
“It’s our job to make them feel safe,” he said. “You have to consider that I’m a stranger they’ve never met before, and I’m about to ask them what it’s like to lose their husband.”
The strength of these women was so evident in their interviews, it became apparent that we needed to open the performance piece with some of their stories, which ranged from very personal, specific and poignant to simple and heartbreaking with sentiments like:
“i just miss us.”
Hogan’s personal relationship with loss created a natural opening to establish a sense of trust and commonality amongst the set. “I started by looking for areas in my life that overlap with theirs. For me, I have experienced a lot of loss in my life, particularly my father three years ago. So when I introduced myself to the women, it was best to start right off the bat with total honesty: ‘I don’t know what it’s like to lose a spouse, but I do know what it’s like to lose my dad’, — and told the story of my dad’s passing. I wanted them to know that grief came in stages, and that wherever they were in their process, that was okay and what we wanted to explore.”
The end result was a perfect blend of integrated content bringing the powerful, real story of the Facebook community group to light through this new content with Julia and Universal Music Group.
But just as Julia wanted her song to uplift these women, it was our goal for the video to embrace not only the melancholy emotion, but also the hope that can grow out of grief — without trivializing what they’ve been through.
To do that, we tied together the women’s stories with Julia walking onto set after talking with them. From there, she joins her guitarist and begins to sing.
To represent that loss, our production team utilized empty picture frames hung on flats throughout the room. “We came to the idea of just the simple empty frame,” Hogan said. “When you think of losing someone, you think about the memories you have of them, and the photos you have and the frames from now on that will not include this person. That then became the metaphor that drove the design. It’s clear enough, but it’s abstract and flexible enough to blend with both the stories of these women and then also create a set that would be converted into a performance video.”
We incorporated the use of light — and the absence of light — to convey the transformation of emotion as the song progresses. Set in front of white panels containing empty picture frames that symbolized lost loved ones, the dimly lit, moody scene begins to change as Julia sings. Light begins to emerge through the darkness and fill the windows and the set with a literal symbol of hope.
We then cut back to the same women from the opening scenes of the video, but this time they are not alone. They are chatting with Julia, embracing her and even smiling.
Millions of views and growing
The impact this song and video has had on a hurting community of people who have lost loved ones is evident. To date, the music video has been viewed nearly two million times. The viewership of the video helps bring awareness to the Facebook Watch series, which is about to launch into its second season and will continue to feed this growing community of people seeking — and finding — support and encouragement.
We were honored to be able to help bring a group suffering from the same hurt together into one beautiful, strong community of survivors.