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Your Shot: How Johnny Fearless Brought WWI to Life for the Imperial War Museum



ECD Paul Domenet on a tearjerker of a campaign, 'Flight of the Stories'

Your Shot: How Johnny Fearless Brought WWI to Life for the Imperial War Museum

The fundamental aim of the new campaign for London’s Imperial War Museum is to promote the museum’s First World War galleries. But, really, there is so much more to it than that. ‘Flight of the Stories’ (which you can see at the bottom of the page) is about remembering those who fought in the Great War, and those who never made it home. LBB’s Addison Capper spoke with Johnny Fearless ECD Paul Domenet to find out more about a project that brings history to life. 

LBB> What was the brief like from IWM and what were your thoughts when you saw it? 

PD> There was always a duality at the heart of the brief from IWM. On the one hand we needed to attract people to the new First World War Galleries, which form part of a massive refurbishment of the entire IWM London building. People knew and loved it well. However it was time to see the IWM London in a different light While pulling in the visitors, the creative also needed to respect those who had fought in the conflict, especially those who had not returned.

LBB> 'Flight of the Stories' depicts stories from the First World War soldiers that sadly didn't make it out of the trenches. Could you tell us a bit more about those stories and how they were sourced and chosen? 

PD> We wanted the voices that we used to reflect what the soldiers were really experiencing and not to be a caricature.  So amongst snatches of dialogue, Ben Leeves at Grand Central would intersperse excerpts from letters. He used the words of Norman Collins and Arthur Dease, two soldiers on the front line, trying to convey to their families what day-to-day life was like. What added to this realism was that the sounds of shells and guns were actually contemporaneous, and the man who warbles “we’re here because we’re here because we’re here” is an original recording of a soldier singing, which was digitally re-mastered.

LBB> How did you go about actually depicting those stores in the film? What kind of conversations did you have that led to the quotation mark idea?

PD> The working process throughout the whole campaign – film, print, digital and radio – was collaborative, both in the sense of observing historical veracity and also ensuring the tone was correct. We worked with both historians and a team of curators at IWM London. 

LBB> What kind of research was involved in the campaign?

PD> We needed a universal symbol that would ‘say’ stories and could underpin the whole campaign. We also wanted to convey the idea that the stories were being told by the soldiers and their possessions themselves rather than being passed on or interpreted by a third party. As soon as we thought of these stories coming back up through the soil of the fields and starting to make their way home we knew we had a powerful metaphor for the way that IWM London gathers its stories.

LBB> The campaign's topic and content are both very moving. How did working on it affect you personally?

PD> Tears were a fairly regular occurrence during the creation of the campaign. You can’t hear the stories without being very moved by them; they connect you much more than any historical narrative can. All were not sad, though. Some were quirky and eccentric, while some made me laugh out loud. Tragedy doesn’t have a complete monopoly on war.

LBB> Do you feel that working on campaigns that deal with this kind of subject matter adds any pressure? 

PD> Undoubtedly there is a tension but it is for people to make their own minds up about conflict and, in particular, the First World War. They can only do this by hearing the whole story, and this is the point the film tries to make. Of course there is also the sense of reverence that we feel towards the memories of the men and women who died. We just hope we struck the right balance.

LBB> Why was it right for the film to be animated? 

PD> The paintings of artists such as Nash and Orpen gave us the perfect inspiration. But like every aspect of the campaign, we didn’t want the work to feel ‘retro’, so by combining it with 3D animation and CGI it could have one foot in the turn of the last century and the other in the production techniques of ‘now’.

LBB> What were trickiest components to the project and how did you overcome them?

PD> The hardest thing to overcome was the justifiably huge sensitivity around the subject. Essentially this was a prompt to make people reappraise IWM London and encourage them to visit the new galleries. It also carries a responsibility to many, many people and their relatives. That was the thought, which always guided the creation of the film.

View the behind the scenes film here.

IWM Remembers Fallen First World War Soldiers with ‘Flight of the Stories’


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Genres: Storytelling, Animation

Categories: Sports and Leisure, Museums and Galleries

LBB Editorial, Wed, 09 Jul 2014 16:27:17 GMT