What could you achieve with the brightest, most valuable technology and media minds in one room? Nick Darken
, executive creative director at Albion London
takes us behind the scenes of 'The Interview
We set out to create a piece of content written, filmed and edited in one day at Founders Forum
benefiting a relevant and worthy cause. Code Club
teaches primary school children a new language: code. Co-founded by Albion's senior user experience designer, Clare Sutcliffe
, it's a nationwide network of volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 10-11.
Their aim is to have a Code Club in a quarter of primary schools by 2014. So we came up with a plan. We would brief all the Founders to come up with an idea for a film that we would then shoot the best idea and present the finished product at the dinner in the evening. Here's how the day panned out:9am:
We arrive on site at the Founders Forum with six kids from Lauriston School in Hackney and 2 Albion offspring.9.30am:
We discuss some ideas some back up ideas with Theo Delany
the director from Hotspur & Argyle
and Sarah Wood
from Unruly Media
, that we can shoot in case the Founders don't come up with anything. We agree the one we'd most like to shoot is Founders going back to school. We've brought along some school ties and caps as useful props.10am:
The kids begin a Code Club session in the hotel conference room.11.30am:
Our briefing to the Founders is pushed back which means we have even less time to get a film made.12.45pm:
Briefing the Founders who are sat in groups of 8 across huge conference rooms. We simplify the brief
to this: 'Create an idea for a 60 second film that will make Code Club famous.' There are a few questions then the groups immediately put their heads down.1.45pm:
We return and ask tables to pitch an idea - most keen gets the airtime. There are people literally standing on tables to make their pitch. The first idea is from a well known face. 'We want to make a film about a chap who uses his penis as stylus.' The room erupts. 'OK that's not the real idea.' About 15 tables pitch an idea. The quality is very good.
We have a small stack of ideas on sheets of paper. One idea is called 'Crack the Code' which is relatively unscripted but is based around the idea of writing a piece of code across one of the Founder's butts which people then have to 'crack' in order to decipher the idea. We like this but it needs a lot of work to try and make it a piece of content worth watching. Clare from Code Club is also rightly concerned that naked butts and kid's education doesn't seems like a great mix. So we land on this script
(see sketch above) from a table led by Fred Destin
. We like the idea of famous faces talking bout when they learned to code but it's still quite inward looking. We decided instead to get the kids interviewing the founders. In a job interview. We are rolling!
Four of the Albion creative team get together to write a working script as names are picked out as a wish list. We tell three of the kids they are going to be leading a panel to interview people on film. We want them to be rude. Are they in? Hell yeah!4pm:
We begin shooting. First through the door is Joanna Shields
(VP and Managing Director of Facebook EMEA). She is great and the panel of first-time actors do their worst. The names roll on from there until we get our man, Sir Tim Berners-Lee
(Director/Professor at WC3/MIT and inventor of the www). Feeling confident we now go for royalty: HRH the Duke of York
. He's in.5.30pm:
We still don't really have an ending for the film. The plan is to 'see in the edit'. Then a bombshell. HRH The Duke of York's advisors come back to us. Although HRH is happy to be in the film, he wants to make it clear that he is endorsing the idea and is not just another candidate in the line up. We bash around a few ideas including having him come back in at the end of the film to make a more sober pitch. Would this kill the viral appeal? Sarah from Unruly casts judgment 'Stone dead' she says. In the first shoot HRH gifts us a line about knowing influential people 'like my mum'. We decide the only way of saving his appearance in the film without killing the piece is to have the kids hire him, but only on the basis of whom he knows.6pm:
HRH returns and we go again. It's in the can.6.30pm:
Normally you'd need a couple of days to edit this amount of footage. We have 3.5 hours. The edit begins in the same room we've shot in. 8.30pm:
Our buoyant mood is broken by Theo the director. He tells us to shut up before announcing 'The film is currently 4 ½ minutes'. We need to lose some stuff. We go through the names making some hard calls.9.50pm:
The edit is good but it needs finessing. We have a team of mums at Unruly HQ waiting to see the film go live and we have a few hundred of the world's most influential minds in a ballroom down the corridor waiting to see genius.10.15pm:
Time is up. The crowd is restless. We are not completely happy. We make the call to show the film as is but not post it live until the morning. The event organiser beams 'We're entrepreneurs, we get iteration.' It's little comfort.
The film goes up on the big screens. We feel naked. The crowd erupts. It's a nice moment. Overnight we get some feedback from the Unruly test audience that informs the tweaks we'll do overnight.10.30am:
Having spent the morning getting the edit really tight, we put it live. Amazingly no one in the film has seen the edit - it's done on trust and a standard model release form. We're tired, exhausted, but most of all relieved we pulled it off. The video is released the same day the government's plans for educational reform leaked, which was serendipitous since Code Club is all about teaching primary school children a new language: code.