School of Performance and Cultural Industries

Case study video

Client: University of Leeds
Project: School of Performance and Cultural Industries

The School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds wanted a suite of videos for their 2021/22 student recruitment campaign that captured the true ethos of the Faculty and its BA and MA courses. They’d seen many examples of ‘traditional’ talking head videos but were looking for something a little different… something that captured the unique personalities and characters of its staff and student body. They wanted a video that was snappy, had plenty of energy, and would create curiosity and excitement, but also, very importantly, communicate the intersection of both Performance and the Cultural Industries.

For a project like this, it’s imperative to capture the project’s key messaging and objectives, but you also have to find a way to communicate the personality of the faculty. What is it that makes the School of Performance and Cultural Industries so different and unique?

Why would a student want to study there rather than somewhere else?

It became fairly obvious through conversations with the faculty that plenty of innovation and collaboration was already happening in teaching and research at the school, but what really stood out was the positive impact the department was having on the wider world, and on the individuals both studying and teaching at the school. This, we felt, was an essential through-line to draw out the film’s narrative.

We wanted the films to feel authentic, sincere and direct, but to avoid feeling too contrived or, excuse the pun, rehearsed. We decided very early on to approach the interviews in a much more conversational manner. We’d have an idea of where we wanted the conversations to go, but we wouldn’t force anything, or get our contributors to ‘build the question into the answer’, meaning their responses were more fluid, reactive and heartfelt, leading more to a sense of our contributor’s personalities.

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This approach meant we had two additional considerations… we would have to be extremely structured in our approach to editing, (as we would be filming a lot more interview content than we would do normally), and we would have to be extremely confident in our ability to find the appropriate soundbites that would suit the narrative. This meant a little more preparation in terms of back and forth conversations with our client on the appropriate and right types of questions for the interviews, but it was certainly time well spent.

Filming took place on location over two days at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries on the University of Leeds campus. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, capturing student performances were limited to a very short filming window on the afternoon of day two. It was therefore essential that the interview shots held up to scrutiny, and with that in mind, we engaged our commercial Director of Photography to accompany us on the shoot; lighting and framing each interview with a keen eye for aesthetics. For each twenty-minute interview, there was around an hour set-up time for lighting and framing, but we think the results speak for themselves.

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Due to the nature of the filming days, we came away with a significant amount of usable interview content for each contributor, meaning that the editing process went through various rounds of feedback cycles before we even began structuring the narrative. Alongside the main film, we were able to create many themed narratives, including individual contributor edits and even an outtakes film!

We really enjoyed working on this project; it was a fast turnaround, a fun shoot, and with clients who were adaptable and responsive. Their willingness to be open to something new enabled us to assemble a suite of films that we believe truly capture the personality and quirks of its contributors and evoke a sense of what their institute is about – capturing that real feeling of authenticity we were after. The contributors answer the important questions, but it’s all done with a sense of humour, with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek, and with a sense of pride in what the contributors are doing, but also where they are doing it.