Producing a video in eight weeks and very little budget is a challenge, but to create one that captures the essence of your organisation’s work with a narrative that’s relevant to potential supporters is no mean feat. Kevin Metchear explains how Chickenshed recently achieved this.
We like to make big statements at Chickenshed: “Chickenshed is a place where everyone is welcome. and where everyone has a voice.” “We make outstanding theatre that inspires social change.” “We are changing the world.- We also often say if only you could see our work for yourself, you would certainly know all of this to be true. So how then can we prove this to people who can’t get to experience a Chickenshed performance?
This was the problem we recently faced — a fundraising event had been organised to introduce Potential supporters to our work. but Chickenshed were unable to perform at this event.
Fortunately, our good friends in the fundraising department had the answer — we needed a film. And they were very clear in their brief: “We need a high-quality. inspirational and engaging video that will make a profound and immediate connection with an audience. exactly as if they had watched a Chickenshed Performance. It needs to be relevant to potential supporters, and to clearly show our impact. And we need it in about eight weeks.”
Here’s where we got lucky — we were already scheduled to meet a local filmmaker, Neil Simpson [Sounds & Pictures], to discuss various potential film projects. We explained our predicament, and Neil immediately understood the challenge. and was able to reflect back to us that the strength of Chickenshed’s message exists precisely at the point where we’re not actually saying anything ourselves. By using an authentic voice. explaining what Chickenshed means to them. we can tell a story that will resonate in an immediate and relevant way with an audience.
So how to decide who to feature. and whose story should be told?
Another headache: we run to an academic timetable, and the term was just about to end. The only opportunity to film Chickenshed in action over the next few weeks was going to be at a hastily convened photoshoot happening in the holidays, to create images to be used for a recently donated billboard poster site. I checked the list of who was taking part, and was delighted to see that Saida Ahmed. one of our BA students. was on the list. I don’t want to spoil the film for you. but suffice to say Saida is an excellent speaker and has a story to tell. I knew she would be ideal — and fortunately she said yes.
We need a high-quality, inspirational and engaging video… It needs to be relevant to potential supporters, and to clearly show our impact.
Neil shared numerous insights as we prepared to film and interview Saida, including that the secret to such a film is that the audio containing the story must be completely clear, and is in many ways more important than the visuals. He therefore helped us develop the interview questions to allow Saida to tell her story, in her way.
Up to this point, the donated billboard was largely being treated as a standalone project. we had got as far as agreeing that the wording would be We Are Chickenshed with various striking photos of our members and students. To Neil it was obvious that the film should be called I Am Saida to link with this campaign. It was at that point that the We Are Chickenshed campaign was truly born — a campaign that would allow us to raise awareness, to appeal to and attract audiences and supporters alike, and it would do this by allowing others to talk about our relevance and impact for them.
The We Are Chickenshed concept immediately resonated throughout the organisation. It was understood as a statement that every individual who has ever been part of Chickenshed has made us what we are today. We are now making four more We Are Chickenshed films and the campaign is due to be officially launched very shortly. We are also inviting people to submit their stories (written, audio and in Photos) and in this way we will build a bank of supporting case studies on our people, our impact and our relevance.
And how much did all this cost? At the end of the first meeting with Neil he announced that he wasn’t going to show us his rate card because we definitely couldn’t afford him —but he really wanted to work with Chickenshed. What’s more, he promised he would make our film on time and within our (tiny) budget.
The film was a huge success at the fundraising event, and in allowing us to develop this campaign, the film has truly changed the way we think about ourselves, and how we can share the power of our ethos in a relevant and immediate way.
Enough of my yakkin’ — here’s the link to I Am Saida
Kevin Metchear Head of Marketing, Communications and Sales Chickenshed
P.S I was so tempted while writing this to keep Neil’s name to ourselves, purely because I don’t want him to become so busy that he can’t fit us in… but his company is called Sounds & Pictures — www.soundsandpictures.tv
JAM 63 — summer 2016