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Producing your New Blood Awards entry in isolation

Top production tips from creative experts on getting your entry looking Pencil worthy.

You had a brilliant idea, and had envisaged a full scale execution using all the tools and facilities your institution had to offer, and then — Covid-19 happened. We are living and working through unprecedented times, and are all adjusting to this new working from home and in isolation situation on a global scale. We've asked some creative industry experts who are going through the same thing, how they are producing work and what ideas they have that might help you produce your submission. 

How can you hack it?

First things first...

Laura Northover, Head of Music Videos and content, Blink Productions: The most important thing to remember is you are not alone! This is an industry wide issue, with the majority of live action shoots having been either postponed or cancelled in the last month. This is a time to embrace the restrictions and be flexible. You may not be able to stick to your original idea, but identify what areas of your creative can be reshaped, now is not the time to be rigid in your approach.

Katrina Encanto, Creative Director, MullenLowe: It’s easy to get bogged down by the current situation, but we can dig deep into our reservoirs of optimism and find opportunities at this time. We’ve got a role to play, and that is to come up with ideas that keep people safe, bring joy or help us feel connected.

Embrace the value of being a student at this time. As a student, you hustle, you rely on your own two hands and those you can rally to help you. You find ways, not excuses. And you can change the odds so that ideas don’t rely on money, but on idealism. Never lose that mentality, as that will take you very far in the world of work. Remember that some of the best ideas are born because of limitations. 

We’re all going through the same thing together, and I do feel a sense of community, even if we’re apart. There’s a genuine desire to help and lift each other up. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people and ask for help as we are more likely to make greater things together.

Art Direction from home?

Katrina: Embrace the signs of the times. There is some really lovely work that’s been inspired by lockdowns for instance, such as family portraits shot through the window and creative still life with toilet rolls. Consider how the limitations that we face currently can inspire a unique art style with an added lens of relevance.

How to tackle a voiceover?

Laura: In many ways COVID-19 has been a great leveller, it doesn't matter what budget or scale the project is, anyone who was in production has had to navigate the disruption cause. Luckily most of us already have tech at our disposal. An iphone may not have been your first choice of equipment, but it will definitely do the job. If you need to record a VO, tell the rest of your household to be quiet, shut the door, pull across the curtains and maybe even climb into your wardrobe. Why not?

Katrina: I am not going to pretend I know the most technical answer to this, but I imagine that you’ll need to find the quietest corner of your house. That could be underneath the staircase, or inside a closet (I’ve heard clothes are a good way to soak up sound).

My case study film has to change?

Laura: At the moment everything is on the table. If you can't get hold of your preferred camera it may be a good time to give some old gear an airing. You never know, the crappy family HD camcorder from circa 2005 could be just the ticket. Perhaps even that baby pink camera you got from Argos on your fourteenth birthday. If that's not an option, eBay is a cheap source for cameras and if you have the budget some rental places will still be open to courier over equipment. I'd recommend giving them a call and they'll be happy to advise on whether they can help. 

Katrina: Talk to the jury in a human way. Take us through the idea as you would tell someone at the pub. Embrace a lo-fi approach and make it part of the charm. Draw things up, or get a mate to act out your strategy.

Prototyping an idea

Laura: Animatics are a really effective method of communicating what you intend to do and getting everyone on board with your creative. Animatics take different forms, but are usually a video edit of the storyboards cut to music or VO. You need to sell your idea, so make it engaging by adding a soundtrack and a pacey edit to bring it to life. If you have a lack of images, drawings or test footage to illustrate your point, then feel free to use text as a placeholder. Ultimately the judges will be sympathetic to the circumstances and respect the fact you had to contend with a worldwide pandemic! 

Katrina: I love that scene in One Fine Day when Michelle Pfeiffer takes out her son’s toy cars from her bag to complete her architectural model at a presentation. I think using unexpected things around us to demonstrate the point could be a refreshing way to explain your idea. It’s certainly more entertaining than looking at diagrams.

What about animation?

Josef Byrne, Head of Development, Blinkink Animation studio: Learning simple animation or design could be a good way around that. There are so many tutorials online now. Lots of directors we work with now started out by teaching themselves the basics online. Also, everyone is in the same boat, so doing a weird looking sketch of an idea with the caveat that you gave it a go in isolation is fine.

As a craft everything is far more open with animation. You’re in control of everything you create. You’re not restricted to what location is available, or who’s around to film. So essentially, you can push your idea beyond real life capabilities. If you wanted to suddenly drop your protagonist into a swimming pool which then becomes a toilet, you can do that. 

How can I test my idea?

Katrina: Make a list of people on your contact list who might be able to help and write to them to help get the word out. It doesn’t matter if you’ve met them once after you heard them speak at D&AD. People are so willing to help at the moment that you might just get a response. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

We hope our industry experts have inspired you with new ways to challenge your creative ideas and be flexible with your creative executions. If you have any more questions on your entry please email newblood@dandad.org, and for more creative inspiration, and creative career advice head to our inspiration page for emerging creatives.

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