Aardman Animations, the creators of Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit, have created a new character to fight the most common cause of blindness.
Mac stars in a short film for the Macular Society, a national charity that supports people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the most common cause of sight loss in developed countries, affecting 600,000 in Britain. The charity is one of only a handful of organisations that fund research into AMD. Mac has been designed to appeal to all ages and creates an emotional link to people unaware of the devastating impact of macular degeneration.
A recent survey conducted by the Society shows that one in six people knows someone with AMD. However many people have never heard of it.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “AMD is becoming more common because it’s largely associated with ageing. It has a devastating effect on people’s lives and their ability to do simple everyday tasks. In the later stages of the disease people cannot read, drive or recognise faces. It can lead to loss of independence, depression and even suicidal thoughts. We hope Mac will help us increase people’s understanding of this distressing condition and the impact it can have.”
Heather Wright, executive producer and head of partner content, at Aardman, said: “We love making films for charities like this one for the Macular Society, because it gives us the opportunity to use our creativity in a meaningful way beyond simply entertaining. Animated characters can be a powerful tool in helping people to understand a complex or difficult subject such as macular degeneration. Mac is an endearing character to look at and we use a lightness of touch in his performance that isn’t frightening but clearly explains the issues. He seems benign and happy to start with, but then as the condition worsens we understand the symptoms that sufferers will recognise and other people can empathise with.”
The concept for Mac grew from a creative company called Caroline. One of their staff had a family member affected by AMD. Mike Waudby, creative director of Caroline, said: “It is such a harrowing condition that we knew we had to do something. We had to make the macula famous by literally bringing it to life and creating Mac.”