The extensive and far-reaching network of LinkedIn members is a rich source for storytellers like director Jake Kovnat at Cap Gun. Since its inception in 2002, LinkedIn has grown into a community where more than 645 million professionals and upwards of 30 million organisations around the globe connect to navigate their professional lives and grow their careers and businesses. LinkedIn wanted to share its company ethos with its members and connect all professionals and organisations to create economic opportunity while fostering a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community of individuals, each with unique motivations and definitions of success.
To help tackle this challenge, LinkedIn’s creative team partnered with Jake Kovnat and Cap Gun to tap into the inspiring stories of its community. Jake reached out to LinkedIn members to learn more about their journeys and how the LinkedIn platform helped to improve their careers and ultimately transform their lives.
The latest film from this team follows LinkedIn member Diamond, a single mother and student currently living in the shelter system in Queens, NY. She is working to find a job in the tech industry, striving to provide a better life for her daughter. Diamond is enrolled in a program at NPower, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping underserved adults find jobs in a technology field.
NPower, the LinkedIn creative team, and the Cap Gun production team all helped Diamond to find and connect with a mentor already in her network. The film follows Diamond as she meets Yahaira, another young LinkedIn member with a similar background who is already on the path to professional success. Yahaira introduces Diamond to people in her own LinkedIn network, gives Diamond guidance, and helps pave a way for Diamond to find a way up and out of her current situation. It is an inspiring story for all of us about paying forward the gifts and the counsel we have received along the way. Jake and the creative team have shown not just how LinkedIn is used as a tool to gain, but how it can be used to give.
Recognising that they were telling a sensitive true story about vulnerable people, Cap Gun handled the casting process internally. “The biggest thing when working on documentary projects like this is how we find people with engaging, emotional stories that jump out and need to be told. Then the challenge is to work with those people to take the time to really get to know them and make them feel comfortable letting us into their lives,” says Jake. “It can be a nervous process for people to put themselves out there, so I want them to feel like we really dug in together and took the time to tell their stories in the most authentic way possible.”
Staying true to Diamond and her story was of utmost importance to the team, and director Jake met and talked with Diamond several times before the shoot day to make her comfortable with the process. “I first met Diamond at the homeless shelter where she was living, and initially she was quite shy about the whole process and the story we were developing,” says Jake. “But as time passed and we continued to meet and talk, she really began to gain trust in us.”
Shot on location over two days in NYC, Jake and director of photography Billy Peña used an Arri Alexa with a set of vintage Canon K35 prime lenses. They shot mostly handheld to keep the camera package small and intimate along with some stabilised moving shots on the DJI Ronin. “The best part of working with Diamond was watching her transformation in the midst of our interview on the shoot day,” says Jake. “About halfway through something clicked. We started talking about her daughter and suddenly the answers just started flowing. She was telling us all about her upbringing and her dreams and ambitions and how she’s ready to go big and not let anything hold her back. It was quite an amazing and emotional experience, and I can easily say it was the best interview I have ever done, hands down.”