Luc Edwards, Executive Producer at TVC, has been working in the TV and content industry for more than 15 years and has shot countless behind-the-scenes films, on movie sets, for commercials and music videos, as well as the making of albums, art works, haute couture and hotels.
He believes that calling these films ‘behind the scenes’ does them a disservice – if they are they are worthwhile then they should stand up as documentaries or mini docs in their own right. Here he explains why the quality of story is key, care and attention is crucial and how to know the right time to ask for access and when to hold back.
Behind-the-scenes videos have become an important storytelling platform in their own right – Why are people so fascinated by getting a ‘peek behind the curtains’?
Behind-the-scenes filming has been with us for a long time. I love music documentaries; the footage of Dylan captured by D A Pennebaker for Don’t Look Back was captured while he toured in 1965 and 1967 and is still just as fascinating today. We all want to understand how the world around us works and most of us are interested in learning and discovering new things. Getting an insight into the mind of a creative like Dylan is special. Documentary filming is ultimately a format that reveals truth.
Are BTS films more suited to certain sectors?
No, like all communication it comes down to the quality of the story. If the thing you are doing is interesting enough to your audience then a behind-the-scenes film is worthwhile.
What are the advantages of creating a BTS film and what are some of the pitfalls?
The main advantage of doing a behind-the-scenes film is that the client is already doing an activity so production won’t need to source new talent, locations, wardrobe and props. The fact that a documentary crew is covering something that is already happening should cut down considerably on pre-production time and will reduce production costs.
The main mistake that is made is thinking that just because behind the scenes requires a relatively small crew it can be done quickly and easily. Just like any other piece of content it will still need care and attention to make something that is worthwhile. Crucially it needs to be approached as an asset in its own right, not just an easy addition to a campaign. Like any other piece of strategy or content, behind the scenes requires an insight to make sure that it will find an audience and be relevant.
When making a BTS film, how do you balance brand requirements with making something that people will actually want to watch?
By definition documentary filming means that you are capturing what really happened and often the most compelling moments come when things are going wrong for the project. The film crew should be allowed to film everything and then decisions on what works for the client and the film can be made in the edit. It’s really important to keep an open dialogue with clients to make sure they are aware of what is being filmed and how it will benefit the story. Ultimately, they will be approving the final cut and will be able to see these moments of jeopardy in context.
With no lines, no script and no narrative, how do you know when you’ve got the right/enough footage for a compelling BTS film?
We always have a treatment with an outline of the story. Everyone is aware that the story will develop and could be very different from the original treatment but it is really important that production, account management and the client are in agreement about the intended scope of the finished film. Knowing when you have enough of the right footage is much more difficult but as a starting point the normal shooting ratios apply.
The Jaguar E-PACE BTS film was a key part of the overall launch strategy, with an editorial spike off the back of it – why did it work so well as part of the plan?
In the case of the Jaguar E-PACE behind the scenes film we had two big factors in our favour, the first was that the team were trying to do something really special that was full of genuine jeopardy. We all knew that it would create some spectacular sequences. The second was that the clients were really supportive of the idea and allowed us full access to the process. There is understandably a lot of scepticism from the general public about whether these kinds of huge stunts are faked so documenting the process and showing that it was totally real became an important part of the strategy.
What were the key challenges you came up against?
As always the big challenge when working on someone else’s location or set is getting good footage while keeping out of the way so that they can do what they need to do. The testing process for the E-PACE stunt was long and complicated and the challenge for us was to know when to take an opportunity or ask for access and when to hold back.
And finally, if a brand is considering a BTS film, what are the three questions they should ask before getting started?
What is the story we are telling?
Why will this story resonate with our audience?
How does the behind the scenes story enhance the wider story that we are telling with our hero content?