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Lifting the Big Red Curtain

“Get up-close and personal – and introduce the people behind the scenes at Big Red Oak!” That’s the challenge that Alistair Simpson accepted, and he is thrilled with the assignment. A young filmmaker in his own right, Alistair recently began an internship with Big Red Oak; and he’s using his skills to make a series of videos that reveal the techniques and characters of the company’s creative team.

Big Red Oak gave him the green light to conceptualize, shoot, edit, and develop the content, allowing Alistair to expand his artistic instincts and gain confidence within a supportive setting. “I just finished film school,” he said, “so the chance to meet all of these professionals and learn from them is a dream come true.”

Undoubtedly, it deepens our appreciation when we see the expertise behind any venture: through a TV interview with an athlete, a backstage theatre tour, or the bonus features on a DVD; and Alistair wants his videos to illuminate the people behind ‘the big red curtain.’ “Everyone here has a totally different background and skill set,” he explained, “but they are all passionate about their roles – and they’ve produced the work to prove it.”

Spotlight on graphic design

The first project trained the lens on the portfolio of graphic artist Brad Sherri. “I thought it was essential to bring Brad’s designs to life by animating them and enhancing certain shapes in an interesting way,” said Alistair, “and I also needed to personalize his story.” They soon became very comfortable with each other, sharing ideas by phone, over lunch, and at the office.

After drawing up a list of key points, Alistair recorded an interview with Brad in the Big Red Oak studio booth, then fine-tuned the themes before shooting B-roll and coordinating the visual elements. “I didn’t have a lot of experience with motion graphics yet,” Alistair admitted, “but Bob Holt, the in-house expert, gave me great tips on how to use this tool.”

And coming soon …

Currently in the works is a video profiling the talents of brand designer Lana McInnis. “We’ve had several in-depth conversations,” Alistair said, “and it’s been interesting getting her vision and perspective.” He understands that the craft of Design and Branding is challenging and complex, but he plans to inject a light-hearted and fun vibe into the production, echoing Lana’s own personality. “We’ve enjoyed a good collaboration,” Alistair noted. “She even brought her own storyboards and visual ideas to the table.” With new b-roll and motion graphics, the video will soon be ready to launch. “I’m quite excited about this episode,” Alistair said, “because I can also show the viewers the genesis and significance of Big Red Oak’s own brand.”

Next up will be a focus on photography and then creative writing, the spine of storytelling. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know these people better,” said Alistair. “Their bodies of work are all top-notch and presenting who they are and what they do in a cinematic style is very rewarding.” Alistair believes that the series’ consistency will lie in the insights each video offers into the world of these specialists, but he won’t let them fall into a template. “They all deserve their own unique approach,” he noted, “and I’m hoping to do them justice by innovating cool and original concepts.”

A special opportunity

At the end of the day, this is all about storytelling from a variety of perspectives, Alistair concludes, and he values the mentorship he receives at Big Red Oak. “My understanding of the project evolved as I delved deeper into it,” he explained. “I realized that the videos are more visceral than I at first intended, which is good.”

Alistair recognizes that this is a fantastic way to acquire more knowledge about all the aspects of filmmaking. “It’s a safe environment where I can learn, experiment, fail, and then do it all over again,” he said. “It’s a rare opportunity at my age and experience level.”

Click below for a look at Alistair’s first video in the series:

A Videographic Portrait – Graphic Designer