You guys are old hands at this straight8 malarky. Why did you enter again? What was the challenge?
We are long-time supporters of straight 8; we entered the very first Shootout decades ago.
We see straight 8 as an opportunity to take the shackles off so that the creative department can cut loose. Now I say the shackles are off in terms of our normal way of working, where we are solving a client's business problem, but straight 8 brings its own constraints - shooting in sequence, no post, a set length of 2 minutes 30 seconds, no synced audio and an original soundtrack. It's old-school film-making so has a certain honesty to it, which has maybe been lost in our disposable, digital world.
It's old-school film-making so has a certain honesty to it.
The excitement remains of seeing your film for the first time in a packed cinema, on the big screen. That sense of anticipation is addictive and that's what keeps us coming back as we ask the same old questions: Is it exposed? Is it in focus? Has the soundtrack synced with the picture as we intended? How is the audience reacting?
How did you get the concept for the film? We hear you have a system…
We open up the challenge to the whole agency and then we use our version of a Brainstrust (a writers' table of our best narrative storytellers) to review the scripts. In these sessions, we look at the script from multiple POVs and identify weaknesses and suggest builds to the narrative.
It's then down to the writers who brought the script in to take the advice onboard they are the owners of the story so it's down to them to push the work forward. They don't have to take all the builds on but they do have to move the story forward.
We go through four-to-five rounds and then pick the strongest script. We then give ourselves approx four weeks for the actual production.
- Agency Iris London/UK
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See all of the Cannes 2022 Shootout films here.
How was the shoot? How long did it take and were there any unforeseen issues?
It was a one-day shoot and we are fortunate to have a small photography studio in our office so everything was shot in the studio, as well as other rooms in the office. The outside sequences were shot up on our roof.
As with any straight 8 shoot, the one-take nature is always high risk, so you rehearse each scene and then pray, when action is called, that everything lands.
We had one scene where the talent froze for a second but it actually adds extra awkwardness.
The film has a very specific look, which is commendable considering there’s no grade to polish it up later. Why did you choose this and how did you ensure it would work?
That's the great thing with 8mm; if you're under studio conditions you can pump loads of light in and then with the glitter and colourama backgrounds you get a really vibrant result.
The one-take nature is always high risk
Matt Gillan, the DOP, did a great job on the high-key lighting and then the Kodak film emulsion did the rest.
Hector and Is wrote the script and worked with Ads, Billy & Kyle in design to create the lo-fi graphics. Chaz, one of our in-house film directors, shot the piece.
What were your feelings when you saw the film for the first time, in the screening? And winning SIlver?
We have a pretty good track record in the Industry Shootout so the expectations we place on ourselves are high.
We are constantly thinking about how we better what we've done before. We're always delighted when we get in the top three as the judges are your fellow competitors so they all know how tough it is to create a straight 8 film.
Relief is always the first emotion when you see that the film's exposed and sound is synced. You then wait to gauge the audience's reaction.
I love watching the faces of our creators each year as they watch their film on the big screen for the very first time.
Above: Some behind the scenes fun.
What top tips could you give anyone thinking of making a straight8? You seem to have nailed the process.
We try to keep things fresh and challenge ourselves by making the narratives as contextual as possible and innovating on the production front.
It's worth noting that the competing agencies can vary from year to year. The production companies often push the production craft and the creative agencies tend to double down on the narrative, with the craft not always being as perhaps as strong as it could be.
A key question to ask is, why is this a straight 8 film?
We try to balance both aspects.
A key question to ask is, "Why is this a straight 8 film?". straight 8 is a unique film competition so it's not just any short film contest.
You also need a committed team to be resourceful to make it happen in-and-around the chaos of day-to-day agency life.
Are you going to enter again in the future?
We are in for the December shootout which will premiere in London at Focus at the Design Centre.
As I write this, we have two scripts on the table, so the final decision on which one we go with will be made eop!
This is now the fun part where we go and make it.
I get a feeling that our entry this year will chuck a few challenges in the direction of Ollie, our brilliant producer.