Your Shot: How W+K London Created Double Trouble on Honda’s Interactive Film
A loving father or a shady getaway driver? Or something… in between? Nothing’s certain in this two-sided interactive film for the Honda Civic R Type from Wieden + Kennedy London, director Daniel Wolfe and Stink Digital. Creative Director Scott Dungate on why the key to this project was all about the craft. Play with the full film here.
LBB>I believe the turnaround was pretty quick on this? How long was it from idea to completion? How did you pull it off?
SD> Honda were keen to do something around the release of the Type R Concept. In May we created a film called ‘ROAR’ that showed the Type R breaking through Civic with the sound waves of the revving engine. For this we used the line ‘THE OTHER SIDE OF HONDA’. For the following project, we struck upon the idea of revealing ‘THE OTHER SIDE OF HONDA’ by simply pressing ‘R’ on your keypad. We liked it as mirrored the effect of pressing the +R button in the Type R, which launches the car into ‘race mode’.
With the R-Button idea we went straight to the creative tech department at W+K. They built a prototype that demonstrated the experience, using suburban and racetrack footage, both of which were hosted on YouTube. This instantly made you ‘feel’ the idea not just understand it from an academic perspective. It was addictive, and Honda saw it’s potential.
In terms of script, we had nothing in terms of story line for that first presentation. Rather, we just presented three broad narratives to show ‘the other side’. The first, a surreal fantastic environment. The second, a racing story that celebrated Honda’s heritage on the track. The third, a more entertainment driven story- like something you’d watch in the cinema. Cops and robbers, car chases, that sort of stuff. We chose the latter.
LBB> Did you ever worry about its feasibility?
SD> We worried about craft but not feasibility. The idea was sold into Honda early with the prototype that our creative tech guys made. That did a lot to get the idea across but also give us the confidence it could be done in a way that would be able to exist in YouTube. We also brought Stinkdigital on board who, from past projects together, gave us complete confidence in developing the experience.
LBB> What were the key insights that drove the double-sided story?
SD> We've done a lot of thinking on Honda over the past year. One strategy was to tackle the misconception that Honda is only safe and reliable head on, and call out the fact Honda has an 'other side', one that is born from a high performance, racing pedigree. All Honda cars have this racing DNA in them, but the Type R is the pure embodiment of it.
LBB> Generally, how did the production go for you? Had you ever worked with almost tandem films like this before?
SD> We've done films that involved perfect match cuts before. We've worked with complex interaction within YouTube before with projects like Nike 'My Time Is Now'. But we've never put these two things together. It was tricky writing a script that was one big interactive moving match-cut, while avoiding mirrored scenarios that felt forced.
Writing a double-sided story as a 'traditional script' was a difficult thing to present - it took ages read and to avoid confusion, we had to tag-team and read one ‘side’ each. To help, we created a 4.5m 'mega-scroll' that detailed mirrored scenes in both worlds. There were four creatives working on it, so we came up with a large number of different scenarios, from kidnappings, to espionage, to elaborate double crosses…the list went on. It was great fun to write! Ultimately though, we realised we needed a relatively simple story on both sides that people could follow whilst toggling.
Once our director, Daniel Wolfe, had storyboarded his vision of the script, we had to keep this match-cutting rigour in the camera too, without letting things become too rigid and clinical. Credit to Daniel for striking that balance, and not killing the 'mix and overlay' monitor guy who definitely had the most stressful job on set.
LBB> Considering the films’ differing moods, how did you ensure they had consistency in their style?
SD> Shooting everything on 35mm film helped give the film a truly cinematic feel for both sides. Music and sound was the other key element in bringing both difference and commonality to our two worlds. We worked with Bobby Krillic (of The Haxan Cloak) to score both sides of the film, while Factory blended it with the note of the car and sound design. While each side is very different in tone, there are elements in the sound bed that are the same. This I believe helped pull the worlds together.
LBB> How closely did you work with the main character? What kind of conversations did you have with him about flicking between the two characters so seamlessly?
SD> Daniel did most of that direction. Our main input was make sure the protagonist was still cool in the Civic world too.
LBB> Why was Daniel Wolfe the right man to shoot the films?
SD> Daniel was great to work with on this project. Collaborative and a great lateral thinker around production challenges. We also wanted the film to feel edgy, a little bit gritty and cool, which is evident in Daniel's music videos. But we also needed flexibility in painting a believable and not too saccharine ‘lighter side’ for Civic too. Having worked with W+K previously, we were confident he could deliver that. Daniel also shoots a hell of a lot! Which we love. He is relentless at getting everything and anything you might possibly need in the edit.
Perhaps most importantly though, when we spoke to Daniel, he understood that this was a new way of telling a story. He didn’t just view it as two separate films, his focus was always on the ‘third space’ that the viewer was going to create by themselves through pressing ‘R’.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
SD> The Type R Concept car is still in production so are we unable to get the working model on set, let alone thrash it under expressways. To get around this we created prosthetics for a standard civic, which has the same wheel base to the Type R Concept. It looked pretty rough close up, we nicknamed it ‘Frankie’ after Mary Shelley’s monster, but in camera and moving at pace it looked passable. More importantly, it created a base and light reference for The Mill, who did a brilliant job creating full car replacements.
LBB> And how about the most memorable moments?
SD> As we shot footage, we had Trim editing video in a van on set. I think the first time we saw fresh footage loaded into the prototype and were able to play with the interaction and see how seamless it was - that was a definite highlight.
Category: Automotive , Cars