The client is a training company that uses video on the web to teach business techniques to its subscription audience of SMEs. We had already made two series for them, one on sales processes and one on HR – recruiting, motivating and retaining staff. The client then approached us to make a four part series on budgeting. While HR and Sales processes can be immediately visual, budgeting is a difficult topic to both illustrate and keep the audience engaged. The brief also wanted the series to be prescriptive and literally to ‘spoon feed’ the audience on how to create budgets that would help their businesses grow.
The idea came from the fact the client wanted to use a business coach as the presenter. When we looked him up on LinkedIn, we found out he was American. That, coupled with a brief conversation with him, led us to think about approaching the topic with him as a detective with a puzzle to solve. We developed the idea and decided to shoot it in ‘film noir’ style to create drama and mystery.
As the series was to be prescriptive, the idea evolved into creating a beginning and ending for each episode in film noir style. We would keep the detective references in the main content, which would be shot ‘in conversation’ using a company that does already use this budgeting process.
As the business coach was flying in from America and also charged a daily rate, we took the decision to shoot the film noir sequences with a stand-in and just record a voice over with the coach. We used amateur actors to create the scenes and filmed late on Sunday night in an alleyway in West London.
Each scene, both in the film noir sequences and the main content, were storyboarded beforehand.
The main content was shot in a business in Portsmouth. The episodes had to be planned meticulously beforehand as time constraints meant we had to film out of sequence. The participants were not used to appearing on video, so there was a certain amount of agility required as they ad-libbed and wanted to add in further content. We used conversations with lots of different members of the company in order to keep the momentum up.
One of the more difficult challenges was ensuring we recorded every single permutation of voice-overs with our business coach before he flew back to the US after the two days of filming.
In order to complete the look, we built graphics that reflected the film noir style and used throughout. We added in music. Spreadsheets have never been so interesting!