See Upwork's Sweeping, Cinematic Take on the New Way of Working

Alto and Mark Molloy offer global solutions

Upwork weaves four tales of personal and professional change into a sweeping three-minute narrative that vividly captures the brave new world of business flexibility.

Advised that her company prefers to handle complex projects in-house, young CEO Gina bristles, putting her faith in a small team of far-flung freelancers instead. Pale hues and quick cuts establish a vibe of moody upheaval, with each character springing to life as their backstories and current circumstances unfold.

We meet a coder in Hong Kong, a U.K. designer trekking off to join his girlfriend in Italy, and a Silicon Valley engineer who recently moved to the seaside.

These three players, along with Gina, are especially well-drawn by creative agency Alto and Smuggler director Mark Molloy amid images of movement and perpetual change.

Up We Go Film I Upwork

Indeed, our subjects are always in motion. They ride in cars, take trains and climb stairs, constantly pushing forward and striving for more. The designer treks through a bustling rail station, struggling against the onrushing crowd. The engineer dives from rough rocks into crashing waves, a vivd evocation of rebirth.

This may sound like an unsubtle approach, but Molloy's expert framing and elegant sense of pace establish an impressive flow, allowing the symbolism to work on an almost subliminal level.

Ultimately, of course, it all turns out OK. The final destination—a place of success with job well done—is never in question. Still, for 180 seconds, viewers share an exhilarating quest, and perhaps imagine themselves breaking out of their own comfort zones to explore new horizons.

"We didn't want to make this about the pandemic, because ultimately the future we foretell was coming with or without it," Alto managing partner Ed Rogers tells Muse. "If anything, we were inspired by the shared sense of what's emerged as some of the pandemic fog has cleared. Family matters. Pursuing what we really want matters. This is all part of what Upwork has made possible for 20 years, but it took the world until now to really feel it."

That's a timely mission, as the gig economy expands and notions of work evolve almost daily. To meet demand and better compete against LinkedIn and Fiverr, Upwork—which posts 8,000 jobs a day, serving 5 million employers and 18 million freelancers—just launched a "Work Marketplace," an initiative designed to facilitate long-term relationships between independent workers and companies.

"The takeaway for talent is that the opportunity to do impactful work is not limited to in-house roles," says Rogers. "We can all work with capable teams on meaty projects, short and long term, without being bound by geography. We can shape our careers on our own terms, without being bound to one opportunity."

Alto drew on anecdotes from Upwork customers during script development, targeting both sides of the employment equation.

"For businesses, we wanted to acknowledge that while this is new and may cause some discomfort initially, when you bring the right people together, the results can be the same if not better than within a traditional structure," Rogers says.

While filming, locations around Sydney, Australia, stood in for New York, Hong Kong, Tuscany, Oregon and Manchester, U.K., with extensive drone footage "giving it scale, a sense of reality and a global feel," he says.

Shorter spots, edited from "Up We Go," effectively condense the film's themes and sharpen each individual character study. Other campaign elements, spotlighted in the two-minute clip below, include a design refresh and out-of-home placements.

Brand ID: Up We Go | Upwork

Upwork: "Up We Go" Credits

SVP, Marketing: Lars Asbjornsen
VP, Integrated Marketing: Amanda Leach-Rouvi
Director, Brand: Lisa Edwards
Associate Creative Director: Nick Scarlet
Associate Creative Director: Patrick Holly
Executive Producer: Bernadette Spear

CCO/Founder: Hannes Ciatti
Head of Strategy/ Partner: Tara Fray    
Managing Director/ Partner: Ed Rogers
Head of Entertainment & Production/ Partner: Matt Bonin        
CDs: Dan Kroeger, Pierre Janneau Houllier
Copywriter: Jenny Bahn
Project Manager: Taylor Holland 
Art & Production Director: Julia Menassa Panev
Executive Producers: Ben Berkon, Josh Litwhiler
Head of Digital: Amber Wimmer
Digital Strategy Director: Paul Aaron        

Porto Rocha (Design Partner)
Creative Direction — Felipe Rocha, Leo Porto
Design — Joseph Lebus, Natalia Oledzka
Motion Design — Fionn Breen, Habin Koh
Animation — Giordano Caldas, Rafael Morinaga
Project Management — Nicholas Schröder, Luciana Thiesen

Film– Smuggler                             
Director: Mark Molloy
Director of Photography: Sam Chiplin
Line Producer: Alice Grant 
Executive Producer: Sue Yeon Ahn

Editorial & Finishing: Work Editorial     
Editor: Neil Smith, Anne Perri                
Assistant Editor: Fatos Marishta    

Color: Company3
Artist: Tom Poole

Music & Audio: 
Barking Owl-
Composer: Dustin O'Halloran 
Engineer: Dan Flosdorf

Martin Nicolausson
Roberts Rurans
Tania Yakunova

Photographer: Geordie Wood      
Photo Producer: Olivia Gouveia (Webber Represents)     

Retouching: Hempstead May

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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