We upped our game a bit for this year’s Halloween Trick-or-Treaters. We put a canopy over the whole front garden which allowed us to create a spookier atmosphere with some new lighting and projection effects, added a load of new props and Dad parked the car on a Zombie.
People seemed to be really getting into it this year with packs of kids roaming the streets all in great costumes and lots of other houses in the neighbourhood putting on little haunts and effects. It actually felt like that scene from E.T. that I always wanted Halloween to feel like.
By counting the sweets mum gave out, we must have seen 340 kids, and at least 3 of them left in tears… our work here is done.
It’s 2 years later and we’ve done it – www.theHillValleyProject.com.
We registered 50 separate twitter accounts for all the characters (and some of the objects) in the film, and starting on October 25th at 7.45am (the exact time and date the film starts), they all started telling the story of the film in real time. It takes 6 days for the whole story to play out.
Here’s a few choice tweets:
— Marty McFly (@_M4rtyMcFly) October 25, 2013
— Emmett 'Doc' Brown (@_EmmettBrown) October 26, 2013
— The DeLorean DMC-12 (@_TheDeLorean) October 26, 2013
RT: @_EmmettBrown My God, they found me. I don't know how but they found me. Run for it, Marty!
— JVC GR-C1 (@_JVC_GRC1) October 28, 2013
?Go go Go Johnny go, Go Go Johnny go, Go Go Johnny go, Go Go Johnny go, Go Johnny B. Goode?
— Marty McFly (@_M4rtyMcFly) October 29, 2013
We took it all a bit further with things like setting up foursquare locations and having characters check in…
*dancing at The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance* http://t.co/NPdShNRg8R
— George McFly (@_GeorgeMcFly) October 29, 2013
…and giving Lorraine an obsession with instagram selfies and hashtags:
We even gave Biff a match.com account:
— Biff Tannen (@_BiffTannen) October 27, 2013
One of the many reason we did this (most of them were around the theme of Back to the Future being awesome) was to raise awareness and encourage donations to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. They’re trying to speed up the time it takes to get newly developed drugs to market by concentrating on one specific part of the process and helping to provide support and access to research when and where it’s needed.
So, how did we do it? Well, Tom had already done a very similar project a few years back running Home Alone on twitter over Christmas, so we had a rough idea, but working out the times all for the tweets was a massive task. There’s lots of times in the story you just have to hit, like the time the car first time travels, or the lighting strike on the clock tower, so we had those as starting points. The rest we worked out by events like the school day starting, or looking at the position of the sun and working that out for California at that time of year.
We then had to re-write the entire film in tweets, adding in any screen shots that looked like they could be Twitpics, links to YouTube videos for the soundtrack and just making the tweets sound like tweets with the odd #LOL, ;-), and the occasional #FML. We ended up with 1211 tweets, all hand written and all cross references each other with @replies.
We gave each account it’s own biography, background image, profile image and cover image.
We then entered the whole lot into a social media management system that was logged in to all the accounts and set each tweet to send at the desired time.
The system only went wrong once when I noticed we’d entered in all the dates a day out of sync when Marty wakes up on the first day before he goes to meet doc in the car park in 1985. I fixed this by using a technique of utter blind panic, and switching to manually tweeting all accounts for a couple of hours in the early hours of Saturday morning – I managed to get far enough ahead in the end to re-arrange and re-import the rest of the tweets. I felt a bit like this moment:
— Emmett 'Doc' Brown (@_EmmettBrown) October 29, 2013
It all went down very well with Gizmodo calling us Brilliant Wackos.
Questlove Jenkins become a bit of a super fan tweeting about the project and then re-tweeting some of the characters:
— Questlove Jenkins (@questlove) October 28, 2013
OK Go liked it as well, which was nice:
— OK Go (@okgo) October 28, 2013
And I was interviewed on *THE* Back to the Future Pod-cast, the Flux Capaci-Cast.
Even though it’s all played out now, you can still witness it in all it’s glory here: www.theHillValleyProject.com
We made a video with a proper film star and a bloke off the telly! This project was for a partnership with EE and Google. EE wanted to promote watching video on 4G while Google wanted to promote watching longer videos on YouTube – so we decided to make a genuine piece of YouTube video content that illustrates this rather than your usual advert.
(See it here if you’re outside the UK)
I wrote and Creative-Directed it, with some writing help from Mark Bushnell who came up with the “no this is a bacon sandwich” line, much loved by the YouTube comments. We worked closely with Jamie’s team to design the 2 sandwiches, and make sure the content we were creating felt like a genuine Jamie Oliver Food Tube episode – the video only exists on Jamie’s channel after all, not EE’s.
It was a pretty hectic half day shoot, but Kevin is of course an absolute pro, and Jamie did a great job getting Kevin and crew excited. It’s hard to believe but the chainsaw was actually Jamie’s idea, not mine.
For the close-ups, we worked with a great chef who’s hands and arms (after some shaving and hair dying) matched Kevin’s perfectly, we even got a double for Kevin’s wedding ring for him. My proudest moment was stepping in as the stunt man (or the only person stupid enough) to hold the loaf while it was being chainsawed in half.
The video reached 2.5 million views within 2 weeks, and is Jamie’s most watched YouTube video by quite a margin. I know we’re not supposed to read the YouTube comments but it’s great to see so many like “First ad on YouTube I haven’t actually skipped”.
For Future Cinema’s production of Saturday Night Fever, we created the website for the 2001 Odyssey club, the hippest disco joint in town. Working with Stephen Emslie and James Tiplady (a really jolly good new member of the team), we designed a system that allowed people to book their entrance time to the venue, as well as set them up with a character to play as for the night.
Each character was a member of one of 5 New York gangs from the ’70s, and they were given a briefing on how to behave for their gang as well as how to dress. They were also given a unique New York ID card to print out and bring with them which got them into the club and helped them meet up with fellow gang members.
We got a Pizza oven! …and this time-lapse film of us building the stand for it is made using a little dolly unit I built for our GoPro. We’ve always wanted to have a simple small unit to plonk on a table during breakfast and slowly trundle forward, but such a device simple doesn’t seem to exist. So making one seems to be the only option.
Here’s a few prototypes:
First I tried building a little winch with a super geared down motor, and a trolley for the GoPro made of Lego. It worked, but it was cumbersome, and tricky to set-up.
Then I put the winch on the trolley and used it to power the wheels. Much better, but it was too fast and a bit noisy.
For the final design (although I’m sure I’ll tweak it again), I rebuilt the motor and gears using an old Lego motor and all the cogs I could find in our Lego box that’s sat in the cupboard since we were kids. Now it’s super slow, and the Lego motor runs almost silent. Oh Lego, is there nothing you can’t do?
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “But what does it look like if you strap an infrared filter to the GoPro and set it off on it’s jolly way down the garden path?”. Well it looks a bit like this:
Here’s the brave little soldier in action:
Since before we started working with Secret Cinema, we’d always come out of one of their shows after a great night and say “when are they going to man up and do Brazil?”. They manned up.
We were involved very early on this one (as usual collaborating with mega developer Stephen Emslie), we helped concept and create the pre-narative experience audience members take part in during the month leading up to the show. How they interacted with the system directly influenced their final show experience.
The moment any audience member bought a ticket, they became employees of G.O.O.D., a fictional company that mimics the bureaucratic and brutal themes of the film (remember we can’t blow the cover of what the film actually is yet). Employees are given access to the company intranet after filling a deliberately lengthy appraisal form. Here they can keep abreast of all company developments, as well as access a G.O.O.D. subsidiary division called D.R.E.A.M.S, a research company that all employees have to record their dreams with.
Employees are also tasked to form connections with their colleagues by collecting Social Identification Numbers from each other using the commenting system to increase their rank in the company.
A few days before the show, each employee is informed they have been transferred to a new department and given instructions of the proper dress code required for their new role.
On the night of the show, employees are instructed to report to G.O.O.D. HQ, a 13 story office block in Croydon (where some of Brazil was shot), and G.O.O.D. is revealed as the Government Office Of Data, a play on the Ministry of Information from the film. Depending on your transfer, there were 27 possible starting points to your journey through the show, each with a different story and experience.
We created 60 consoles for the Department of Records, which all employees logged into using their password gained from the intranet. They can then browse all manner of files, videos and games. Each rank of employee is given a different mission to carry out within the 13 story building.
The system referenced the shared office spaces in the film by splitting the screen in two. Pairs of employees shared each console, waiting for their side of the screen to burst back into life.
Of course, just as in the film, you can hack the system to watch a selection of classic films or TV shows, as well as access high level integration reports (as long as Mr. Kurtzman doesn’t catch you).
Hidden away on the top floor was a secret console where employees could ‘delete’ themselves, freeing them from the system. If they tried to log into the intranet after the show they would just see a rolling video of clouds… there was also a secret method to ‘undelete’ yourself, as you can never truly escape the clutches of G.O.O.D.
All of this was just part of an amazing show from Secret Cinema that spanned the entire 13 floors and basement, with countless adventures to be sought out or stumbled upon throughout the night, culminating in a stunning theatrical finale in the central core of the building.
More photos over on our Flickr here.
For Future Cinema’s beautiful production of Casablanca we created the ‘French Protectorate of Morocco’ – as usual, the heroic Stephen Emslie was on development duties.
The site allowed people who had bought tickets for the show to book their table at Rick’s Americain, the best Bar in Casablanca.
Once they’ve booked their table, we generated a new European identity for them. They were assigned one of 6 nationalities, along with a new name from that country. This is all on a ID card they printed out, attach a photo, and brought it along to the show.
Future Cinema events are normally slightly more casual than Secret Cinema (although put together by the same people), so we deliberately made this a very simple system compared to the more richer online experiences we do for Secret Cinema. This seemed to really pay off, everybody went to town with their IDs.
We Won! Gav won the concept competition with some very tasty/tasteful ‘chocolate crucifixion nails’ out of dark chocolate dipped pretzel sticks, a chocolate button and silver spray. I tried to make ‘hot cross bums’. They didn’t look quite as bum like as I’d hoped but they won the taste competition. My personal favourite entry though was the NSFW ‘The Holy Reserection’ by Wooders.
While we were in San Diego recently, we visited our pal Nat’s mum for a BBQ. Nat’s mum has an awesome view of San Diego Airport’s runway from her balcony, so we strapped a few cameras up there and proceeded to enjoy the most intimidating pieces of meat we’ve ever had plonked down in front of us. A good time was had by all, even the jets.
Our pal Dom is an excellent cook and generally a passionate foodie. Also, a top bloke. So when he asked us to help him brand his new restaurant we were delighted to lend a hand. We came up with the name ‘Knife & Pork’ – witty and meaty. The ever talented Cookie came up with the amazing logo and we built a little shadow puppet show to sit in the restaurant to entertain the diners. Cookie illustrated the pigs, Dom got them laser cut for us whilst we built the turntable and shadow box. We turned up for the opening night, set the pigs dancing and sat down for a smashing evening of posh food and great company. Go book a table!