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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jewett

#NoScreensChallenge: two boys, one digital deal

Two 8-year-old boys, one with sunglasses, walking away from a house
Restless and bored: 8-year-old cousins Sacha and Robinson went for a month without using screens

Two French ex-rugby star brothers turned ad-making directors, Michel and Nico, decided to set their 8-year-old sons a #NoScreensChallenge. The deal: no screens for a month – but they could have any adventures they chose, and the whole project would be captured on film. The dads wanted to combat the digital dominance in their boys’ lives: Sacha was addicted to video games (“Nothing was as important as Fortnite: watching a movie with us was less interesting, playing football was less engaging, going outside was less surprising etc. I mean everything was about this fucking game”) while Robinson lost hours online and couldn’t concentrate well (“He can really easily spend time staring at nothing on YouTube or the iPad”).

“Our main ambition was to have [the boys] living as we did when we were young, where everything was easier,” Michel explains. “I remember spending days outside with no phone, so no contact with my parents. I lived real-life adventure with my bro and friends. Today we are afraid of that – we always need visual contact with our kids and so they lose confidence, they lose identity, they lose passion.”

Shooting on GoPros and on their phones for a combination of graininess, atmosphere and speed, Michel and Nico edited the month-long footage down to four high-octane, super-photogenic minutes and set the film to the Meat Loaf song I’d Do Anything For Love for its “90s feeling and craziness… And yes, it’s all about love, so that was obviously the final choice.”

The month turned out to be, for the adults too, a combination of “frustration, acceptance and joy – and the fun would come only after frustration,” says Michel. “What you see in the film mostly takes place in the last 15 days when the addiction is gone and [the boys’] minds were ready to enjoy, ask and create.”

Given that the idea was for all of them to get away from a focus on screens – “Rehab was for everyone” – it’s slightly ironic that Michel admits: “The camera helped the challenge.”

Even if you don’t have access to quad bikes, indoor skydiving or the South of France, you can take this project as a jumping-off point to start a #NoScreensChallenge of your own…

Watch Anything For Love by Michel + Nico – 30 Days With Access to No Screen here

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