How do you make exceptional creative projects happen? What goes into the process behind the scenes to make it all work?
This is the central line of questioning that runs through our creative event series, Behind the Scenes. We spoke to Senior Designer, James Round, about the enchanting artwork he produced for last year’s BAFTAs. He was only too happy to come and tell us how Human After All approached this project.
How do you get to work on a project like the BAFTAs in the first place?
We’ve actually been working with the British Academy on their awards for the past few years. Human After All has a background in film and television so the link comes through past relationships. The fact that we’ve worked closely together before helps to make each year go even more smoothly than the last as we build a better understanding of their requirements.
What tends to change every year?
We pick a theme that’s carried across all artwork and in 2016 we decided to present the awards through a lens of ‘A Window to Another World.’ We wanted to show how the cinema is a portal to another place and convey the idea of true escapism.
How did you develop the theme?
Once the concept has been approved, the task is to bring it to life across both print and digital. To do this we needed to find an artist who could truly embrace the brief and understand how to bring the screen to life. The BAFTAs committee like to work with new, undiscovered artists but also have strict guidelines and formats to adhere to, so we need to find someone who can work well with our creative steer and direction.
We sourced a shortlist of illustrators to show the client and they chose Levente Szabó, a Hungarian illustrator who creates incredible storytelling work. His concepts were exceptional; he won the work in large part because of his love and appreciation for film. His interpretation of the brief – to transport us to another world – was prodigious. Within a few days he had sent us countless versions of work:
We ultimately decided to go with his final illustration that showed two people outside the BAFTA mask looking in on an ambiguous reflection. This striking image was translated across posters, tickets, digital billboards and 8 sheets.
What part of the project are you most proud of?
The tickets were a particular focus for us, as we wanted them to be as meaningful for Leonardo DiCaprio as they would be for regular guests to the event. We aimed to make them a special keepsake of the awards so went bold with the final execution – thick stock, metallic pantone, a luxurious look and feel.
The idea was that you, as a ticket recipient, are drawn into the awards as you unfold the ticket package. You are stepping into the mask, with the excitement and anticipation of the BAFTAs builds.
What were the most challenging aspects of this campaign?
As you would expect with a project of this size, there are lots of people in the organization who need to sign off on our work, so we work hard to innovate while still being faithful to the BAFTA brand.
Another challenge came with tight deadlines – at certain moments in the run-up to the event timing is crucial. Producing illustrations for the ‘Best Film’ category in a week’s window before the final print deadline is tough. Good planning and project management is vital to the process; putting long hours in is ultimately the only way to get it all done on time.
Levente was given the entire long list of films to watch a few weeks before the final selection and produced a series of roughs as an initial guide for all the films. This is where our previous experience with the BAFTAs pays off, as we can give really clear direction on the creative process. This is also where a load of amazing work gets cut, unfortunately, with few people ever seeing the artwork for the films not making the shortlist. Luckily, Levante absolutely nailed the essence of the final film that won: The Revenant.
What are the key parts to making a project like this a success?
Working with brilliant, creative people is a must, as is forging really strong bonds of trust with the client. With such a large number of stakeholders involved, putting time and effort into client relationships is crucial.
Also, the sheer amount of work that goes into creating initial sketches and designs that never see the light of day can be hard to deal with. Sometimes some of the best work produced can’t be used because the associated film or television production doesn’t make the shortlist.
Ultimately, it’s a huge privilege to work on a project like this, so everyone tends to put the extra hours in to make sure the end result is perfect.
Join us at the next Behind the Scenes event for more glimpses into the making of great creative work.