LBB delve into the making of a monumental campaign from World Woman Foundation as we join some of the incredible talent behind the work
To celebrate International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th 2020, the World Woman Foundation launched World Woman Hour: a global digital event featuring 60 inspiring stories from 60 women, told in 60 minutes. The socially powered movement aims to empower girls around the world to find heroes that inspire them and brings together stories from women who have fought against stereotypes, powered through personal challenges and been able to achieve ideas that are changing the world.
With inspiring women such as Camila Coelho, Jameela Jamil, Angelica Hale, Raja Kumari, MC Soffia and many more involved, the event reached more than two million digital footprints in the first 48 hours following its global premiere.
To find out how this incredible campaign was brought to life, LBB’s Sunna Coleman interviews Gramercy Park Studios NYC director Victoria Batista, lead editor Vee Pinot and MD Lauren Kulchinsky, along with Hogarth producer/director Laura Goehrke.
LBB > What was the initial brief from the client and your thoughts on how to tackle the project?
Lauren Kulchinsky, MD, GPS > To be honest, my initial reaction was I have no idea how we are going to make this happen. But in the spirit of production we will figure it out! The initial brief came about 2 months prior to the actual kickoff of the project – at this time we really had no idea what to expect - just that our partners at Geometry were looking for some production support.
At the end of that call I knew that this project was going to be something special and I wanted to be a part of it. You could feel the energy and the power of the message in the Zoom room. When it came time to start building a production team to help bring this idea to life we really wanted to embrace the female voice and ultimately the team was about 95% female, which is something we are really proud about.
Laura Goehrke, Producer/Director, Hogarth > I was immediately invested from the beginning based on the initial brief and team that I had met. From the get go, we knew the brief boiled down to 60 women : 60 stories : 60 minutes. It was crucial to establish early on what that really looked like from a creative and production lens. My initial thoughts were that we had to assemble an internal core team at Hogarth from the start who knew every nook and cranny of the campaign, and then bring in more people to support as the work and schedule unfolded.
Victoria Batista, Director, GPS > There were talks of a possible graphics treatment, and maybe utilisation of stock or B-roll. We were in strict quarantine at the time, but once we realised that we had access to anyone anywhere as long as they had internet access and a smartphone, what seemed like a big problem turned into a really cool creative solution. I remember being really excited to approach this in a new and creative way.
Vee Pinot, Editor, GPS > The campaign that CEO of World Woman Foundation Rupa Dash, and creative director Elspeth Lynn had in mind spoke to me straight from the start: empowering young girls and women around the world to do anything they want to do, and to believe in themselves. The idea that those films could help someone somewhere believe in their dream and ability was an opportunity that I could not refuse.
Elspeth, my unsung hero, interviewed all women prior to our shoot and was sending us new scripts weekly that would become the base narrative for each film. We had 60 women to film remotely from every time zone, while thinking how each film could be creatively unique and authentic. We knew we would also need archive footage, personal photographs and additional resources to edit, colour, mix and deliver all 60 + films in less than three months.
LBB > What message do the films aim to deliver? Did the pertinent subject matter influence your own thinking in any way?
Laura > Whether you watch just one story or all 60 together, you’ll still walk away feeling a sense of empowerment, awe, and hope. The message that came across for me is that women are unstoppable, and no matter what is thrown at them, they learn to persevere and accomplish great things.
Victoria > I left with my mind opened and empowered after hearing these women’s stories and the adversity they faced. I’ll never question my ability to accomplish something ever again.
Laura > It’s an emotional experience - these films take the viewer on a journey through moments of darkness and moments of light. I feel like this campaign delivers a message that life is unpredictable but there is always a way through even the hardest of challenges.
Vee > The message “you only need one hero to inspire you” and “if she can do it, surely so can I” is powerful and inspiring. I was so fortunate and forever grateful to have spent the few hours of filming with all 60 women because each taught me something new about life, about myself, about resilience and courage. It’s undeniable that this job has changed me as a person.
LBB > Vee, as the lead editor, what was your vision for the films?
Vee > From the start I wanted the films to be cohesive in the messaging while staying authentic to each individual story. Some were uplifting, others more emotional and required a more subtle approach. But all shared the same sentiment: through it all, I came out stronger and here I am. So, overall, the pace had to be energetic and empowering.
LBB > There’s a lot of creative editing in the video. Can you tell us about the creative process and how the edits help tell the story?
Vee > We decided to use the minute timestamp to take the viewer through the journey of our 60 heroes. I created a master project and edited the first 15 stories to set the tone before delegating others to my team. I also set a template intro and outro to be used on all films, using key GFX and SFX and briefed each editor on the overall style. I reviewed all edits and ensured that the stories were told with authenticity and drive.
Being available remotely on set helped me get close to each woman and stay true to their story. We partnered with Fulton Street Music Group to create a series of music tracks that would keep the hour cohesive while offering the right tone for each story.
LBB > Victoria, with so many stories to tell, how did you make each one stand out in its own right?
Victoria > It’s definitely an overwhelming task, knowing that we have to do each woman’s story justice with only a minute of film, but that’s why we came into every interview very prepared. After researching each woman, we had their scripts written and individual shot-lists prepared for each shoot. Though we had certain shots we knew that we wanted to get, we always left time to ask each woman how we could capture them in their element and really illustrate who they are visually. We wanted each hero to feel that they were also a participant in telling their own story.
A big part of making each video stand out on its own was the B-Roll. We asked each woman if they were comfortable providing us with some personal photos or videos to help illustrate their stories. We provided them with a wishlist based on parts of their scripts and nearly every woman we spoke with sent us something. They ended up being some of the more powerful and memorable visuals we were able to include.
And lastly, I think the music really helped elevate each individual piece. I worked closely with Fulton Street Music Group to create the original tracks you hear throughout the film. We were able to curate tracks that fit all different kinds of stories, so the variety of music used in the edits really helped bring character and movement to each of the stories.
LBB > What was it like working with so many different characters? Do you have any tips on how to bring out people’s confidence on set?
Victoria > It was an ever-evolving experience working with so many different women, and I loved it. It was important to be respectful and empathetic as some stories dealt with some really difficult subject matter, but with every shoot we had, I came away with a new perspective, gratitude and pride in being a woman. We also had an all female core team, which is something I’ve never experienced before. It was a wonderful time.
Shooting remote means you’re quite literally being invited into the homes of your talent, which is a privilege we never lost sight of. Nobody likes to be on camera, and with that vulnerability, it’s natural to see some apprehension and nervous energy. Over the course of over 50 remote shoots, we became pros at this:
- Keep the number of people ‘on set’, whether it be remote or in person, to a minimum. It’s much easier to trust and connect with a team of three than it is with a full audience.
- Always schedule for more time than you need. The beginning of any shoot is like a warm up, it’s spent getting comfortable and gaining trust which is something you can’t rush.
- In certain circumstances, a pre-production call is a great way to diffuse nerves. Laura, Vee and I did a few of these. They were fabulous, we got all the nerves out of the way and came to shoot day as trusted friends rather than strangers.
LBB > How did you organise and film so much content? Was there a tight turnaround time for this?
Laura > The turnaround time was very tight indeed! I think I have amnesia about that part when I look back because it was such a monster of a campaign to put together from scratch - all remotely too. We organised close to 60 ‘at-home Zoom shoots’ between the end of July and early October, basically having just over two months to complete it all. Our last shoot was the Monday of delivery week.
On some days we had up to three remote shoots, in three different continents and time zones. On the post end, we had a massive tracker for all 60 videos, where our lead Post-Producer Jennefer Frangella and Head Editor Vee Pinot oversaw up to ten editors at once.
Vee > We had an incredible team to help. Our head of edit assist Andrea Podaski was paramount to the success of this job and delivering all assets in the extremely tight deadline we had. She put in place a wonderful workflow to help us focus on the creative. We were filming three to eight women a week, so the pace was relentless. After each shoot, Andrea was receiving and transcoding the footage daily and sending all assets and project templates to the assigned editor.
LBB > This was an epic multinational effort, both creatively and with the production. What were some of the other big challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Laura > We knew music would play a key part in bringing this campaign to life and saw it as a big question mark on how we could best approach it. Luckily, early on, we connected to Fulton Street Music Group, and worked with Alex Fulton’s network of producers and composers to create five original tracks to use throughout the 60 videos. Each track conveyed a different emotion and feeling, which worked great throughout the different stories that were told.
There were a lot of late nights, but it was totally worth every minute because without them it would have a totally different feel.
Victoria > Laura ended up directing about a quarter of the shoots so I could shift focus to editing, and while Vee edited she attended shoots to be an extra set of eyes for us. We were all constantly multitasking and looking out for one another to keep things as efficient as possible.
Vee > Filming during lockdown also meant that we had no crew on set! Some shoots were trickier than others. A lot of women were alone without a friend or family member to act as a camera operator. Our directors Victoria Batista and Laura Goerkhe were amazing at finding creative ways to film and making women feel relaxed and "technically” confident.
Editorially, the biggest challenge for me was interviewing women speaking in their native language. Ruth Sekeita is a good example, one of the eight women in Team Lioness, an all-female community ranger unit in Kenya. Ruth speaks Swahili so we needed a translator on set to help me understand how she felt. It was paramount to me to tell her story in the most authentic way. We sent the edit to her and her team to make sure that was the case.
Lauren > This was a massive undertaking as we were still very much in lockdown mode and needed to figure out a way to direct, shoot and edit all of this amazing content giving each piece the attention it deserved. This team needed to be creative, agile, proactive and really good at solving problems.
We have a massive global network and this allowed us the scale in order to create 60 original pieces of content. This was a journey I will never forget and I am so grateful that I got to be a part of it.
LBB > What were some of your most memorable moments from this campaign?
Victoria > Directing a shoot with Cynthia Erivo was a pinch me moment, as she’s one of my personal heroes. Our time with Ruth Sekeita was surreal, she was shooting in the middle of the African plains at the time, and I remember all of us in our separate apartments around Brooklyn just in awe at what we were seeing.
Lastly our shoot with Jamee McAdoo, which also happened to be our last official shoot of the campaign. Listening to her recite such a powerful poem in such a powerful location, we were all tearing up. The moment was full of emotion and gratitude, I’ll never forget it.
Vee > Where do I start! Everything, every moment, every conversation, each woman, each story, every late night, every moment of panic, each virtual hug with my team, each edit coming to life... Every time we felt we ran out of time and exhaustion was getting the best of us, another incredible story was there to remind us of a bigger purpose and that yes, we could!
Laura > Definitely the day-to-day energy and collaboration among our internal team at Hogarth, and with our creative partners at Geometry. Our team was mostly comprised of women, and to be working together on such a massive campaign with such an important message was a transformative experience for me.
Beyond that, each and every shoot was a memory I’ll take with me. We met women from all backgrounds - astronaut Jessica Meir, singer Raja Kumari, activist and writer Marley Dias to name a few. We even met their families and spouses who helped by filming them on iPhones as we directed through Zoom. It was a communal effort and the people we met along the way are unforgettable.
LBB > Lastly, which stories resonated with you on a personal level the most?
Vee > All women inspired me for different reasons. They show what resilience, determination, kindness and humility can help you achieve. But I have to say I was really impressed by Marley Dias. What an inspiration for the future generation.
Victoria > I related most with Oge Egbuonu and Cynthia Erivo. They’re both artists and storytellers who have intertwined their identities into their art as well as pursuing multiple passions. A message I really connect with.
Laura > It’s really hard to pick specific stories because they all are meaningful to me – but one quote that has stuck with me was from Dr. Kathrin Jansen: “If I’m your hero, it is because you believe that those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
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