Some Things Can't Be Reversed

Agency Network: 
November 2009


The horrifying repercussions of drinking and driving bluntly tumble from the screen in an emotive film for the New Mexico Department of Transportation written and directed by Smoke & Mirrors New York's (SMNY) Sean Broughton.

Broughton designed the spot specifically to deal with New Mexico's plague of drinking and driving with children in the vehicle. The gripping story begins with a man in a prison cell, tottering on a chair, head in hands, clinging to sanity. A ghostly, bludgeoned child appears before him, leans close to his face, and whispers, "Daddy," causing him to tumble backwards, screaming. The narrative then unwinds in reverse, spiraling from the little girl's lifeless body laying among the twisted wreckage of a catastrophic auto accident to the pair first jumping into the truck to the man downing endless cocktails at a party.

Broughton worked closely with NM police and emergency crews to create a realistic and terrifying scene that could be shown during peak U.S. TV viewing hours.

"The challenge was to shock this group of adults into realizing their actions have real-life consequences," says Broughton. "It frightens me that these people are out there thinking it's ok to drink and drive with children in the car and risk killing whole families. The pain of losing a child has such deep-running consequences for so many people; it must stop."

Demien Barba skillfully lit every scene in a hectic one-day shoot.

"Demien was brilliant," noted Broughton. "He's a joy to have on any shoot, but with this tight turnaround, his indispensible genius really came through."

Broughton collaborated closely with the creative team at VWK on all aspects of the spot. "Both Danny Lewin and Lonnie Anderson brought so much support to the project; you really felt beholden to their trust and undying passion," Broughton stated.

The spot began airing in November 2009, with a longer version destined to play on the Internet.

Attribution: Written content created by TRUST:

Film advertisement created by VWK, United States for New Mexico DOT, within the category: Public Interest, NGO.

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Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike
Advertising Agency: VWK, USA
Art Director: Daniel Lewin
Copywriter: Sean Broughton
CD: Lonnie Anderson
Producer: Willie Ford
Agency Principal: Richard Kuhn
AE: Webb Johnson
Prod Company: Smoke & Mirrors NY / Black Sheep Productions
Director: Sean Broughton
DOP: Demien Barba
Editorial: Whitehouse
Editor: Crandall Miller
Producer: Melissa Maxwell
Executive Producer: Corina Dennison
Grading: Smoke & Mirrors NY
Colorist: Ben Eagleton
Post / Effects: Smoke & Mirrors NY
CCO: Sean Broughton
Lead VFX / Flame Artist: Sean Broughton
Designer / Animator: Steve Parish, Mike Donovan, Wei Louie
VFX Producer: Paul O'Beirne
Sound Design: Audio Engine
Sound Designer: David Wolfe
Shoot Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Highest Rated

bubblestheclownfish's picture

Yeah - pacing seemed off. Visual tone was nice though.

Activity Score 606
Creative Director
morse's picture

Shocking. Very good work!

Activity Score 18159
Art Director |

.. / .-.. --- ...- . / .- -.. ...- . .-. - .. ... .. -. --.

bad astronaut's picture


bad astronaut
Activity Score 540
windnclouds's picture


Activity Score 8
Graphic Designer
alexander_bickov's picture

Good work

Activity Score 3281
royschellekens's picture

Love the message! Film could have been better...

Activity Score 390
Art Director at Art Director |

Hate advertising? Make better ads.

bubblestheclownfish's picture

Yeah - pacing seemed off. Visual tone was nice though.

Activity Score 606
Creative Director
Marlus Lau's picture

Very good, I like the film.

Marlus Lau
Activity Score 1808
Art Director at Editora O Estado do Paraná / Pós-graduação na Unicuritiba
manal©'s picture


Activity Score 89

nothing is impossible!

manal©'s picture

Some Things Can't Be Reversed!

Activity Score 89

nothing is impossible!

silvi's picture

Excellent production. Strong message.

Activity Score 4170
J Designer's picture

very very good. This ad really touched me...although I would never ever drink and drive because I too have experience loss (twice) from idiots drinking and driving.

J Designer
Activity Score 2420
Graphic Designer at Click Clack
Meezo's picture


Activity Score 40
Marketing Manager at Domty
lucdesaulniers's picture

Convincing. Very good.

Activity Score 1145
Osocio's picture

Great PSA and a very good way to tell the story.
But the reverse technique is done before many times for road safety campaigns:

Activity Score 2
Graphic Designer
WillyLatasa's picture


Activity Score 614
Art Director at |

"Bright ideas bring better results"

mgriff21's picture

Very good!

Activity Score 592
Art Director at VCU Brandcenter (Richmond, VA) 2011 |

I'm here doing this, but feel I should be there doing that. But to do that, I have to be doing this. Does this make sense or do I have to explain that?

mikepants2005's picture

The backward video idea has been done to death but doing it again for a road safety commercial is seriously lame! Haven't you guys seen this done before?

Activity Score 504
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