‘Skate Nation Ghana’, conceived by Droga5 and executed by Love Song for Facebook (META), has reached out to, and resonated with, people all over the world. Beyond its recent Emmy nomination for Outstanding Commercial, its charm is exemplified by its success on the festival circuit; picking up a Silver Lion for Editing at the Cannes Lions. It’s also been awarded a GOLD Clio Award for Film Craft Editing, a BRONZE BRITISH ARROW for Best Editing, a SILVER for Best Editing at the Shots ‘The Americas’ Awards, two Yellow Pencils and three Wooden Pencils at the D&AD Awards, and four Top Honours at this year’s AICP Show, for Production, Licensed Soundtrack, Editorial and Advertising Excellence – permanently placing the film in the archive of the Museum of Modern Art as the Best Advertising Campaign 2022.
The film has captivated audiences, critics and awards judges alike, and having aired almost a year ago in July 2021, it has demonstrated a longevity that looks unlikely to fade any time soon. With three distinctly talented directors with their hands on the tiller (Bafic, Elliott Power, Justyna Obasi), creative heavy-weight Daniel Wolfe in an EP role (and brilliant director in his own right), and a huge emphasis on utilising mixed media - one of the most important things in the edit was to maintain cohesion, or “... a global tone that had many shifts within it”.
Provided with hand-held camerawork, go-pros mounted to speed drones, bullet cam set-ups, mini DV and Alexa footage, Paul Watts, editor at and co-founder of The Quarry, had a whole wealth of material to work with. Having to navigate roughly 70 hours of footage and 10 hours of iPhone footage, Paul’s mission was to seamlessly weave together the directors’ individual voices, the meticulously composed shots and authentic moments of spontaneity, all whilst faithfully depicting the multiple perspectives of authentic Ghanian skateboarders.
Luckily, says Paul, having a clear narrative running throughout - the formation and proliferation of genuine collective Skate Nation Ghana - he was given “... a license to be fast and loose with comprehension”. With a clear story firmly established, Paul and the directors were allowed to take a more free-form approach to the edit without risking the loss of comprehension. This opened the edit to a multitude of possibilities and directions. Thanks to the welcome collaboration of three fantastic directors and the insightful input and co-operation from the rest of the team at Droga5 —- particularly that of Thom Glover (writer and ECD), Nico Baumann (Senior Copywriter) and Inna Kofman (senior art director) - Paul was offered a unique opportunity to fully explore the potential of the film.
Music was another element that proved vital in finding the perfect tone for the film – one of the biggest editorial challenges, says Paul. Helmed by Sunny Kapoor at Curation, securing access to, and choosing from, the best and most genuine Ghanian music was a huge undertaking. After a careful selection process, the goal was to thread together tracks that conveyed the delights of skateboarding as well as the hopes and dreams of the passionate skaters that ended up meaning so much to the community.
Something that distinguishes the spot from the rest was the emphasis on authenticity, and the focus on communicating real stories of real people. Characters such as Mr. Bangers, for instance (real name: Joshua Azumah Nelson), are completely genuine -- and it soon became clear in the edit suite that the best way to let the film play out was to allow these people’s vibrancy and sincerity to shine through and do its thing. With such an abundance of excellent footage, deciding what to keep out of the film was more difficulty than deciding what to put in.
To quote Paul: “This is one of the spots that comes around once in a blue moon.” Watching the spot and witnessing not just the incredible response from audiences it has received but also the impressive and still-flowing stream of awards and accolades, it’s hard to disagree with him.