I received a brief from Facebook Creative Labs to shoot the most boring films ever made. The concept was to create content so boring that it would put the viewer to sleep. On top of the snore-factor, they wanted to livestream it in the middle of the night to target the sleepless. As unconventional as it was, it was clear it was an innovative way to advertise mattresses.
I jumped on the opportunity to work with the Facebook team and devise a way to shoot these films that was so tedious, it would captivate our restless viewers. Taking cues from the immensely popular Norwegian ‘Slow TV’ and the recent trend of ASMR videos, we sought to create content that had a soothing and meditative quality to it. We believed this would encourage viewers to watch each video at length.
Broadcasting the videos on Facebook live allowed us to iterate in real time and respond to what we were learning about our insomniac audience.
Case study video: Facebook Creative Labs Director, Director of Photography & Production Designer: Ahad Mahmood
I designed the sets to have a boring but gentle look to them. I created and sourced props to produce a completely monochromatic color palate and to introduce opportunities for audience interaction.
Lighting was imperative to giving each set a soft look; I used a large 12’x12’ source to wash light over the set. I knew this would create contrast and shape without feeling aggressive or drawing attention to the lighting.
When possible, I introduced subtle audio cues to the broadcast to further lull the audience into a sense of stasis. Creating content for mobile delivery dictates that it should function without sound, but a tranquil soundscape would enhance the experience should the viewer choose to engage with it.
We wanted to create a suite of content that we could publish to direct viewers to the livestreams in as many ways as possible. Right before broadcasting, I shot each set to generate these assets. This also allowed us to extend the life of the campaign beyond the initial broadcast.
Our first livestream heavily informed our process. At the time, Facebook Live was brand new technology and we didn’t know how audiences would react or engage with the videos.
I worked with our audio engineer to stash microphones next to our actress’ hair to replicate the soothing sounds of ASMR videos. While this worked well to create a meditative effect, we realized that viewers got frustrated with the lack of interactivity of the livestream.
We saw that there was significant debate over whether the actress’ hair was real. In the last moments of the broadcast, I instructed the actress to remove her wig before walking off set. This was immediately met with a positive response, so we knew we would have to create more opportunities to engage the audience in the subsequent streams.
Upon regrouping, we decided that our painter should leave a corner of the canvas unpainted. We hoped this would antagonize our audience and provide opportunities for us to respond to live direction and debate. This payed off, affording us the opportunity to have the actor sporadically stand up to paint more of the canvas when the viewership started to decline. When an audience member mentioned one of Purple’s other products, I had our actor walk off set to retrieve it and incorporate it into the set. It was quickly evident that we needed to leverage our ability to respond to audience requests in real time.
For our third broadcast, The Bird Almanac, we incorporated a symbol of the brand; an egg. This non-sequitur provoked the audience and encouraged them to ask him address to the egg, a request we fulfilled when we felt it was appropriate. I made sure to make sure not to indulge the audience too much; engagement spiked when viewers weren’t sure of the outcome.
A case study on The Most Boring Films Ever Made.
Case study by: Addie Marino @ Facebook Creative Lab Client: Purple Agency: Facebook Creative Lab Production: Ideaparc Director/DP: Ahad Mahmood