It was a Sunday in June that I got a call from Jez telling me to pack a bag and be ready within 48 hours to board a plane to Brazil. Needless to say it was a shock.
It took a while for me to fully embrace what was happening, in fact, it took the entirety of my journey. Even after walking in to Stansted airport, a 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo, an 8 hour layover in the airport, a 3 hour connecting flight to Teresina and then a cab to the hotel, I was sat in the lobby still a ball of nerves. I had no idea that within minutes I’d be embarking on one of the most incredible journeys I’d ever been a part of.
A Nissan 4×4 screeched up outside the hotel and I was greeted by some familiar faces, Will and Colin from Wing as well as a freelance producer called Roberta who I’d not met before. From this point on, everything was so hurried and fast. A quick hello, a handshake and we were away. I had no time to think about nerves, or how tired I was from the journey. I was ready to go and wouldn’t really stop for 24 days.
After just 5 minutes in the car, I had hopped out with Will and we were sprinting down the road after the convoy in 30 degree heat. The atmosphere was a mixture of tension and excitement. Cyclists and runners ran alongside the convoy and as (most of) the spectators lined up along the road cheering, Will and I burned past the back end of the convoy. Then, just ahead I could see the Olympic flame and got my first look at the place I would call home for most of my time in Brazil: Media 1.
Media 1 was a modified van with an open back, designed to capture the Relay from directly in front of the torch. It was truly the best seat in the house for the spectacle and that seat was mine. Within 15 minutes I had been briefed by Owen at Wing, sat down, and all too quickly taken the reins.
That night would prepare me for what I would encounter in Brazil, headed up by the protesting. As we reached the outskirts of the city and the sun started setting, the spectators began to take a bit of a turn. The boos that had been effectively drowned out earlier were more clear, the shouts of “fora temer” were audible and the police numbers had doubled. It wasn’t long before things had got a bit hairy and action was taken, the wind carried pepper spray and tear gas through the open back of Media 1. Lesson 1: breath through your nose (the first time I learnt that the hard way). The tension was high for the next few hours as we finished off the last remaining torchbearers of the day, and it wasn’t until the shutters on the back of Media 1 had closed that I remember taking my first full breath. Luckily, my nerves had transitioned to adrenaline which I’d need to help me stay awake until 2 am, ready for my 4 am wake-up, the flying leg of the Relay beckoned.
Until this point in the Relay, the convoy had to drive between locations. Each day would go as follows; the team would wake up, drive to the first city, complete filming the necessary torchbearers and then foot on the gas to the next place on the list. I had joined on the last day of the initial driving leg, so everything now would change for 20 days. The team would wake up earlier (usually between 5am and 6am), travel to the airport, fly to a new location where MOST of the convoy vehicles would be waiting ready to go. Media 1 however, would take the form of various different flatbed trucks. We would build a frame onto the flatbed, fix an FS7 on a tripod and a makeshift DIT station to the vehicle using mostly tape, cable ties and bungee cords, power them using a (very loud) petrol generator and pray for no rain. Because as Jez very aptly stated before I left “when it rains in Brazil, it really rains”.
It’s hard to summarise the weeks that followed, Brazil is bigger than I could comprehend. Every city had different people, different weather and different terrain. The one constant was the team I worked with, everyone was tired and as a result everyone had to simultaneously suck it up but everyone did so without ever breaking a smile. There was no time to be tired or sick. It’s amazing looking back at the level of energy the whole convoy brought in to each city. Maybe it was the power of the Relay… maybe it was the amount of Coca-Cola that we went through on any given day but it was nothing short of incredible.
The stories that were told in the daily videos were incredible; from celebrities and marriage proposals to Brazilian aborigines and even a retired clown. The people involved were amazing, and not just the elected torchbearers. A number of people working for Wing and other people involved in the Relay were lucky enough to run, an appropriate reward for the blood, sweat and tears that they put in. Though I wasn’t able to run with the torch, my time in Brazil wasn’t without its highlights. Manning a camera in a canoe in the rivers in Macapa, an impromptu night out in Argentina, conquering Brazilian rain in the not so waterproof Media 1 and watching the friends I’d made running with the torch from the best view in the house to name a few.
Amongst all the excitement and chaos I had blinked and there I was, my last day in Brazil had come. Iguazu through pure chance would be my final location, home of one of the natural wonders of the world, Iguazu falls. I spent the afternoon walking through the national park alone, taking in as much as possible before I had to leave. I’d had the opportunity of a lifetime, to see one of the most amazing countries in a way very few people ever will. I was suddenly very aware of just how lucky I was, I had fallen in love with Brazil the last 24 days and I’d never forget the amazing times I’d had. As I watched the water tumble over the edge of the massive cliffs, the memories of lying in bed at home that Sunday came flooding back. All the nerves, the uncertainty seemed so unnecessary, the Torch Relay would go on for another month after I would leave, and I was truly devastated that I wouldn’t get to be a part of it. That being said, nobody can take that time away from me, it was the best experience I’ve ever had and I’ll never be part of anything quite like it again and only a handful of people ever will. All I can do is hold my breath and hope I’m part of the next Torch Relay, but it may have to settle for silver as Brazil will always take the gold.
Having a list of things to do each day is no different from anyone else in new business: a raft of emails and calls go without saying. But if I had to think about why my day might be different from others working in a similar role across different organisations, then I suppose it would come down to us producing such a range of projects with a huge mix of clients and uncovering so many different opportunities along the way.
Variety is a good thing, and it certainly means that I have a fun job. But it doesn’t always make life that simple when you’re looking for new business. The fundamental question of ‘what is Quite Frankly’ or ‘what does Quite Frankly do’ cannot always be answered that easily… because we do a lot of different things for different people. As a result, new business strategy can take a number of different twists and turns when researching which direction we need to be taking, whom best to target, and where our best chances lie in securing work with leading corporations, agencies and charities.
Reading digital news sites, trade mags, blogs and national press all help determine the best foot forward – as do referrals, introductions along the way, and of course our case studies. But when everything else on the ‘to do’ list is factored into the day, time management can get pretty interesting… and the ‘to do’ list can get pretty long!
Aside from proactively looking for new opportunities, I’m often answering enquiries on potential projects from current clients by working with our production manager and producers on costs and treatments. There are also brainstorming sessions to be run to fulfil briefs, as well as finding ways to explain these ideas through proposals – and then going to meetings in the hope of securing the work.
There is also a constant effort being made in thinking about how we present new case studies, update our credentials, and share our work on a regular basis – not least with our new venture in Bangalore front and foremost in our minds. That subsidiary office opened at Easter this year and I spent a month out there working with our India Director Sitara to help her get things up and running. We now have a number of projects under our belts, so looking at ways to best market and PR what we have achieved out there is certainly a big goal for the next twelve months.
As we step into 2016 it’s looking as if we’ll have a lot of new experiences coming our way. Firstly, it’s an Olympic year which given our past work with sponsors Omega, GE and Coca-Cola certainly bodes well for us spending some time in Rio in the summer. We know we’re in for a busy start to the year with a good amount of work already in the diary: we’re running brainstorming sessions around content for the International Olympic Committee, we’re media training a new large corporate client, and have dates in the diary to meet with fashion and automotive brands who are looking for new video partners. All whilst delivering a range of projects for our trusted clients Diageo, Coca-Cola, and law firm Mishcon de Reya.
We have all just returned from Bangalore where we celebrated Sitara’s wedding in true style – so energy is high and January is off to a flying start. Here’s to a strong 2016 – happy new year, everyone!
Last night saw us donning our 3D glasses for a private viewing of one of our most recent projects: the OMEGA Speed Skater short film.
Originally shot in 2D, our friends at Prime Focus were instrumental in creating a fantastic 3D experience for anyone visiting the OMEGA pavilion in Sochi where our film was showcased throughout the Winter Olympics.
Seeing our work on the big screen last night in all its glory and surrounded by the crew who helped make it happen was a great end to the month.
Click here to view the Behind the Scenes film
The kit has arrived in Sochi with plenty of time to spare and Jez, Jamie and Ben have their bags packed!
Working with OMEGA throughout the upcoming Winter Olympics, the team travel tomorrow and will be filming and editing throughout the Games.
Content will include timekeeping activities in-venue, press junkets in the park and brand ambassador appearances from the Official Timekeeper’s pavilion.
Not only that, but Quite Frankly’s first 3D production will be showcased throughout the Games inside the pavilion. Go, Team Quite Frankly!