Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and RPA Debut Series of 20 Short Films to Help Make Cancer Care Less Scary for Kids

September 25, 2017


Santa Monica, CA, Sept. 25, 2017 — A cancer diagnosis is scary for anyone, but for a child it can be even scarier and more confusing. The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to families facing a child's brain tumor diagnosis, and leading independent ad agency RPA created a fictional group of characters called the Imaginary Friend Society to help teach kids about cancer treatment in a way that's easy to understand.

The imaginary friends appear in a series of 20 animated films that feature various experiences children confront after a cancer diagnosis, such as "What is an MRI?", "Feeling Sad," "Finding Out You Have Cancer," "Blood Transfusions" and "Returning to School," as well as an interactive-style video of "Help for Brothers and Sisters" that helps siblings talk about their feelings.

The films will launch on Sept. 24 at a special screening event during the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's Starry Night 5K at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. All films can be seen at and will be shared across the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's digital channels.

Immediately following the launch of the 20 films, the Imaginary Friend Society invites everyone to submit a drawing of their own imaginary friend at or within social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using #ImaginaryFriendSociety.

Submitted drawings will be used to create dolls for those newly diagnosed, as well as coloring books, journals and motivational posters that will be available early next year as part of phase two. Additionally, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is developing motion-capture medical-assistance technology using select imaginary friends, as well as hospital-based AR experiences designed to lessen the fear of impending procedures, with release plans for early 2018.

The idea for the film series stems from noticing a lack of material that speaks to all of the medical and emotional aspects of cancer in a way that's both relatable and engaging to kids. Kids with cancer are bombarded with an array of invasive procedures that are equal parts unfair and unfamiliar. These concepts are not only intimidating, but completely foreign to them. The idea for the Imaginary Friend Society was born from cancer survivors who used imaginary friends as a coping mechanism during treatment.

"It's our goal to help the more than 4,600 children diagnosed with a primary brain or central nervous system tumor each year. That's 13 new cases per day," said Robin Boettcher, President and CEO of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. "These films help us equip, educate and empower families throughout their journey by explaining difficult aspects of cancer care and giving children confidence and courage."

In addition, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is teaming with child life specialists, social workers and medical staff at hospitals across the United States, as well as other childhood cancer nonprofits, to bring this film series to families in the midst of treatment.

"It takes teamwork to fight this devastating disease, and many of our nonprofit distribution partners were inspired by children like those who will benefit from this film series," added Boettcher.

Like Keris Bembry who was diagnosed at age 4 with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain tumor. Before she passed away, Keris and her family founded Keris Kares to give back and share with others the hope, love and support they had received. "Keris Kares is passionate about our family outreach, and Keris would be proud of the work that we are doing on her behalf. We value our partnership with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and together we will make a bigger difference for the families and children we support," said Deidre K. Bembry, Keris's mother and chair of Keris Kares.

"I'm so thrilled we could get so many real friends together to bring the Imaginary Friend Society to life. This colossal project was an absolute labor of love, worth the enormous effort it took to make it happen. To make these terrifying experiences a little easier for kids dealing with cancer, and to bring smiles to their faces during a truly difficult time, makes it all worth it," said Jason Sperling, SVP/Chief, Creative Development at RPA.

This pro-bono, global film project came to life thanks to many talented animation, music and sound-design partners from around the world. Each partner took on a different cancer-related topic with a script written by RPA and advised by the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and produced their own unique imaginary friends to bring the topic magically to life, resulting in this inspired collection:

"Welcome to the I.F.S." Animation: Gentleman Scholar Music: Jeremy Turner Sound Design: Jeremy Turner

"What is an MRI?" Animation: Roof Studio Music: Butter Sound Design: Butter

"Feeling Sad" Animation: Hornet Music: Ambrose Yu Sound Design: Ambrose Yu

"Returning to School" Animation: Strange Beast Music: Handymartian Sound Design: Handymartian

"Blood Transfusions" Animation: Lobo Music: Anvil FX Music & Sound Design Sound Design: Anvil FX Music & Sound Design

"Finding Out You Have Cancer" Animation: Giant Ant Music: Antfood Sound Design: Antfood

"Losing Your Hair" Animation: The Mill Music: Fidget NYC Sound Design: Fidget NYC

"Why Am I Tired All the Time?" Animation: Airplan Music: Squeak E Clean Sound Design: Squeak E Clean

"Feeling Angry" Animation: Not to Scale Sound Design: Lime Studios

"Radiation" Animation: Trunk Music: Daniel Pemberton Sound Design: Fonic

"Who Will Be Taking Care of Me?" Animation: Flux Animation Music & Sound Design: Digicake

"Shots" Animation: MPC Music: Storefront Sound Design: Storefront

"Surgery" Animation: MPC Music: Mophonics Sound Design: Lime Studios

"Chemotherapy" Animation: Starbeast Music: Mike Newport Sound Design: Radiate Sound

"Help for Brothers and Sisters" Animation: Psyop Music: Teenage Diplomat Sound Design: Lime Studios

"What Is Cancer?" Animation: Studio Pigeon Music: Black Iris Sound Design: Lime Studios

"Long Hospital Stay" Animation: Titmouse Music: Travis + Maude Sound Design: Lime Studios

"Being By Yourself" Animation: Renegade Animations Music: We Are Walker Sound Design: Lime Studios

"Being Scared" Animation: Laundry Music: Butter Sound Design: Lime Studios

"Staying Friends with Your Friends" Animation: Wolf & Crow Expected Music & Sound Design: Shindig

Title Sequence (for all films): Elastic Title Sequence Music (for all films): Jeremy Turner

About the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is the world's largest nonprofit solely dedicated to fighting the deadliest childhood cancer. Since 1991, the PBTF has funded more than $29 million in research to improve quality of life, increase survivorship and cure pediatric brain tumors. The nonprofit also offers a variety of family support programs and resources to equip, educate and empower families as they face the challenges that come with a pediatric brain tumor diagnosis. The PBTF's national events include Ride for Kids motorcycle charity rides, Starry Night 5Ks and Vs. Cancer fundraisers. Join the PBTF in its mission to Care. Cure. Thrive. at

About RPA RPA, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., is a leading independent full-service advertising agency whose mission is to create ideas and experiences that put "People First" within a culture that empowers individuals and teams. RPA has a proven track record of building brands while building businesses into positions of category leadership, and has been rewarded with many long-term client relationships because of it. RPA's client list includes American Honda, ampm,, ARCO, CoStar Group, Farmers Insurance Group, La-Z-Boy and Southwest Airlines. For more information, visit