Imaginary Forces’ main titles for Netflix’s documentary series, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, leaves the grisly storytelling to Director Brian Knappenberger and instead takes a symbolic approach.
The sequence captures light and shadows falling over key features of the Los Angeles justice system that so profoundly failed Fernandez, a young boy whose parents tortured and killed him even while case workers were supposed to be on the watch.
“Los Angeles is a key character in the documentary. So the piece is centered around the radius of downtown LA. There, within blocks of each other are the courthouse, city hall, police station, child services,” said Imaginary Forces Creative Director Karin Fong in a statement. “[T]he light represents the act of illuminating the truth and the shadows of all the failings within the system. The series has a film noir aspect—at the heart of this is a mystery, with layers of secrets revealing themselves.”
The main titles finally land on one of the most chilling aspects of the case: the small wooden cabinet into which the boy was locked each night to sleep.
“Once we saw that piece of evidence, we knew that it would be the haunting resolve to the main title,” Fong said. “It’s such a horrible contrast to the imposing, soaring architecture that dominates the piece. We worked with the filmmakers’ reenactment unit, to shoot a replica of the cabinet and Gabriel’s point of view from the darkness within.”
Agency: Imaginary Forces
Creative Director: Karin Fong
Animator/Designers: Brandon Savoy, Kiyoon Nam, Merrill Hall
Editor: Lexi Gunvaldson
Color: Lin Wilde
Photographer: Isabel Hacker
Executive Producer: Jon Hassell
Head of Production: Franceska Bucci
Senior Producer: Lauren Hanson
Coordinator: Alex DeSanto