Spiderman has been uncovered as a hugger. Andrew Garfield, who is earning critical acclaim for films Hacksaw Ridge and the upcoming Scorsese film Silence, but in the latest public service announcement for Youth Mentoring he shows us a more sensitive side as he hugs someone to show how to increase compassion and empathy.
Hug It Out! is a short film by Pomegranate Films for Youth Mentoring – an organization helping at-risk youth in Los Angeles – that features Garfield and actress Jo Hart learning step-by-step how to give a hug. It’s a retro-’90s spot, accompanied by Mr. Moviefone-esque narration and cheesy elevator music. The PSA describes a hug like a new product from earlier times, showing the positive effects a hug can have.
Garfield and Hart play the awkward learning parts well, outfitted with ill-fitting white turtlenecks as they walk through the steps of a hug – putting one hand on the back, then embracing for a long time as an arrow chart shows how empathy and compassion rise during the duration.
LA-based creative duo Armen Perian and Rosie Geozalian wanted the spot to feel as comforting as a hug, and they used the comforting infomercial style and educational films children of the ’90s grew up with. Their motto while creating the PSA was “worse is good.” The two deliberately chose awkward pacing, repeated actions, cheated angles and continuity errors to give off a distinctly low-production VHS feel.
At the end of their hug, to show that empathy rises with the length of the hug, Garfield tells Hart; “Sorry I thought your idea for a Peruvian-themed alpaca waterpark was stupid,” and he goes on to encourage her to follow her dreams.
Youth Mentoring is featuring the Hug It Out Challenge on ChallengeMaker.com. Through December 31 viewers can submit videos of themselves giving a 20-second hug, or they can donate directly to Youth Mentoring. So hug for a good cause, and see if you can be as awkwardly charming as Garfield.
Writers: Armen Perian & Rosie Geozalian
Director: Armen Perian
Art Director: Rosie Geozalian
Cinematographer: Elias Talbot
Producers: Armen Perian & Andrew McKenzie
Production Designer: Jennie Poundall
Actors: Andrew Garfield & Jo Hart
Production Company: Pomegranate Films
Post House: Work Editorial
Editor: Arielle Zakowski
Motion Graphics: Brandon Carrillo
VFX Artist: Steve Dabal