Everyone is telling stories these days right? A bank customer reunited with their lost scarf. Teenagers saving turtles with a jukebox. I wore sunglasses, whilst repairing a hangover...with a milkshake.
It’s an internet fact that people have always told stories. But now they’re telling you that they’re telling stories (hi, thanks for reading). Because we live in a world that’s become filled with noise and people, and strangers, and adverts by strange noisy people. Influencers, marketing, third-party e-mails. Too forced. Too corporate. Tailored by an algorithm. That’s where the story element comes in; it’s personable, relatable - like one-to-one (hundred) human contact. Who would opt-out of that?
Digital: at Brand Calibre we speak to people in a digital world. Message alerts, app updates, new matches, binge-watching. We know what all of these terms mean. The digital landscape is harvested by people who recognise the bullshit and are drawn to lush, rewarding pastures. The landscape itself is forever in flux. In one metaphor it may be physical landscape, terra firma. In the next it might be a set of decks. We’re always ready to adapt, matching our beat to the project’s.
Storytelling; stories come to life through characters, people. People to believe in. To trust. To root for. People you want to be, and people you want to be with. We spend a lot of time helping people to realise how their perspective frames a story. Meeting people and threading that needle, for us, that’s when everything falls into harmony and we can weave that narrative.
So who do you want to tell your story?
BRAND CALIBRE, B.C.
INT. DAY: BRAND CALIBRE OFFICE (AUTUMN 2017)
The office hums along to The Cinematic Orchestra, the music punctuated by keyboard taps and mouse-clicks. Two coffee machines sit prominent, the laminate flooring between them and the breakfast bar is worn. DARREN sits between a PC and a Mac, his hands typing on three keyboards simultaneously. He drinks coffee and has headphones on. STEVEN scrolls on his phone, his other hand jumping between trackpad and keyboard.
We see three juggling balls followed by LUKE rising into frame. He controls their flight path with consummate ease. He sips coffee in between catching and throwing. He’s on the phone.
(hanging up the phone)
I want the world to know why we do what we do.
(looking up from his Mac)
Hm, like we can produce featurettes on our projects, pulling back the curtain?
Exactamundo – we have to show our chuffing passion and dedication.
(jolted, spins round in his chair)
I love the sound of my own voice and I love telling stories. This idea is…
(finishing Steven’s sentence)
…telling stories about stories. In your own bloody voice.
CUT TO:INT. NIGHT: BRAND CALIBRE OFFICE
The office is still. The only sound is the buzzing of the cold drinks cabinet and the whirrr-click of a record which has ended but spins forevermore, waiting on someone turning it over and replacing the needle. A shaft of moonlight pierces the window, coming to rest on a journal on the coffee table. It glows in the moon’s light and we can clearly see the words written in it, in erratic notes, switching from shorthand to ALL CAPS to joined up tailing off towards to the bottom corner:
…so to sum up: these are definitely my favourite trainers. They’re comfortable – that goes without saying – the colourway encapsulates my personality, the violet hints at the depth within. And the air bubble raises my height to a lofty 5’9”. No doubt wearing them was my silent inspiration when I told Luke we needed a name that would roll off the tongue and captured the very essence of our candour and passion for telling stories. Naturally, Darren agreed from inside his noise-cancelling headphones.
Coffee was flowing, suggestions thrown and we were down to our last pain au chocolat. I could swear Luke’s hair had doubled in length since we started. I pondered whether I should tell him. Was I bold enough to tell him straight? To cut through all the pretence and say ‘look mate, you need a shave/haircut’. And then I plucked it.
I said it out loud. We all sat back. Darren even took off the headphones.
Luke was the first of us to move. He cut himself a slice of Christmas cake, walked to the whiteboard and started writing in green (then red, the green pen was low on ink) dry marker: B-E-I-N-G C-A-N-D-I-D. I never asked why he hyphenated it, I assumed it was meant to resemble a narrative thread, tying everything together. It all reminded me of the time I won that badminton tournament, or the time I was granted the Court Medal at Uni, or when Christina Reilly wrote “Christina R 4 Steven B” on the roundabout, or that time I was Pupil of the Month in P5, or…
The BC way
We are who we are, which is to say, we have strong opinions on the smallest matters (double-shot espresso - two-cup button, or one-cup button…twice?). We have loud voices, we listen to Russian rave, we laugh heartily at our own jokes, and quote Alan Partridge way too often. We are over-reliant on lists as a literary device. Our writing is both staccato and rambling. These traits are true and not true of everyone at Brand Calibre. And then it’s the other way around the next day. We’re just people. We ab-so-lutley do not rehearse our hand…gestures, or intonate in an artificial display of human recognition.
Being candid allowed us to liberate Brand Calibre’s id. We re-designed our web-site to fit the company's personality. There’s no point trying to make a square peg look like a golf ball so we decided to go completely balls out the bath and build a web-site that really said: We’re Brand Calibre, if you don’t vibe with us…gateway405.
[if you are down with our vibe we’re at Suite 4.05…]
Daniel beavered away photoshopping our egos to unimaginable sizes - we didn’t want gifs and memes we wanted Leonardo and Michelangelo - but the website needed some copy. So Luke and I put our heads together and tried to cobble together some prose with no cons. We limited the puns, except where crucial. We wrote and re-wrote, turned the words on their sides, read them backwards, read them through the bottom of a glass, read them aloud, read them on a mobile hanging upside down in a fish tank on a bus in Peru. Then we really wrote them, but...
It became clear we needed a few simple words to sum up Brand Calibre. Two or three words that would define who we are by zoning in on exactly what we do.
We shoot. We're editors. We understand narrative. We know how to use a null. We use the power of negative space. We can rig a light, wind a spool and plug an XLR. We can recite Pedro Almodóvar plots by heart. ISO sweet spots and kelvin temperatures; yup.
We value conversations over interviews.
Listening over hearing.
We have a knack for selecting the right royalty-free track (this one may be exaggerated slightly). We have two Adobe suite log-ins, copy our projects onto SSDs and paid for FCPX.
And we pull all that expertise together to enthral an audience.
Luke and I went home and after three sleepless nights (he had a baby, I had Frasier) we came back and stood, two men at the whiteboard...
Stories by Digital
Telling Digital Stories
Digital Story Tellers
And there it is; greeting web-site visitors. It is us and we are it.
Brand Calibre AD
A few months down the line, I wrote a gushing award entry for Luke (read it here). Shortly after he came to me and said that a few people have asked what we mean by Digital Storytelling, and that I should write something in a similar vein to the award entry.
But, frankly, I think it speaks for itself.
Which is why I told Luke; there’s no bloody point writing some analogous excerpt to explain what we mean by Digital Storytelling.