Saturday, October 02, 2010

they are serious, this is disgusting, and I don't mean the blood and guts

Mad Men

Environmental PSAs have certainly evolved since the day of Woodsy Owl and Iron Eyes Cody, if this educational film from the UK is any indication (h/t Tim Blair).

An impressive piece of work to be sure, especially when you consider the amount of effort that went into its making. It might even make a boffo Harvard Business School case study.

London, sometime earlier this year: The 10:10 Project, a nonprofit NGO focused on reducing carbon, convenes a high level meeting in their posh modern conference room. After reviewing PowerPoint on the results of their latest government grant proposals and white-liberal-guilt fund raising campaigns, the 10:10 marketing team reports that previous communication efforts have not been proceeding as expected.

"Perhaps what we need is a fresh new campaign," offers one of the conferees. "Something different, provocative... something edgy. Something that will really get our message across." This is greeted with great excitement. The finance director pours through spreadsheets and identifies a budget source. An executive screening committee is appointed who develop timelines and begin scheduling meetings with London's top agencies and independent film production firms.

Several weeks later, after sitting through a half dozen agency presentations that have yet to meet their standards, 10:10's highly paid executive brain trust arrives at a meeting at the sleek offices of  London's hottest agency Splodey, Youngblood, Gutz & Bones. After introductions, small talk, and pastries, SYG&B's creative director - winner of 5 British Clio awards - strolls confidently to the television monitor at the front of the room and walks the 10:10 clients through a scene-by-scene video storyboard pitching a new promotional mini-movie that will solve their communication dilemma. The smoothness of the presentation masks the hundreds of late night man-hours and debating the SYG&B creative department spent in crafting it - but it was worth it.

"Brilliant!" exclaims the 10:10 executive committee chair, to the enthusiastic nods of his colleagues. "Add one more exploding child, and I think we have a winner."

Small changes are made to bring the production budget under $400,000, and the agency brings in a high profile horror director to put it on film. Ads are taken in the trades to announce casting calls. After reading through the script the Tottenham Hotspur football club agrees to allow its players to appear in the project. Fees are discussed through the players' agents.

For nearly an entire week, the director and his two assistant directors peer intently at each auditioning actor as they pantomime reactions to imagined exploding bodies next to them. Do they give a convincing portrayal of traumatic shock? Will they read through the line again? It takes at least three auditions per role to finally cast the film, but this is what it takes to create art.

Finally, with five separate locations scouted and scheduled, a unionized crew hired, and with craft services contracted, filming begins in late August. Excited members of the 10:10 team are on hand to witness the magic of movie making. Assistants with light meters take careful measurements of each shot and run the actors through their blocks. Hair and makeup and blood bucket workers stand at the ready. The shooting goes smoothly, requiring only five or six takes per scene. 

A week later, the raw footage goes to post production where the award winning editor begins paring it down to its final length. Special effects are subcontracted to London's top CGI and sound designers, to give the flying blood and bone fragments the you-are-there realism that will enhance the film's carbon-awareness-raising impact.

After some last minute tweaks the director delivers the final cut to SYG&B in late September. A gala weekend premier screening is arranged at the 10:10 office, with key 10:10 donors, board members, staff and spouses on hand. As the film ends, party-goers erupt into enthusiastic applause. The director steps forward to accept toasts and accolades, and take a polite bow.

And somehow, throughout this entire process, not one of the hundreds of people involved seemed to have questioned the wisdom of an advertising message advocating the violent, sudden death of people who disagree with it.

Don Draper, call your office.


Post a Comment

<< Home