What the hell’s a Leanforward? that’s the question we asked A&E when they asked us to help them unveil their nueroscientific discovery of the “Leanforward” viewer to the marketing world. They told us that Leanforwards were highly evolved viewers who preferred the kind of deeply engaging programming found on A&E. Recent studies had revealed that these “Leanforwards” actually leaned forward and immersed themselves in both the programs and the ads. This made them “humans of interest” to the media buying and planning hominids housed in North America’s innumerable marketing and media buying firms. It also made the “Museum of Leanforwards” the perfect pilgrimage for aficionados of high engagement marketing.
Executive Creative Director: Jeff Long
Executive Producer: Todd Brandes
Creative Director: Anthony Vitagliano
President: Don McNeill
Interactive Creative Director: Erik Reponen
Creative Director: Camm Rowland
Creative Lead / 3d: Chad Ashley
Interactive Developer: Lance Hornback
Interactive Creative Lead: Peter Reid
Senior Producer: Andrea Biderman
Interactive Producer: Jason McClaren, Jessica Baker, Dina Morales
Copywriter: Kevin Walsh
Designer: Jason Esser
Producer: Chris Hill
3d Artists: Todd Kumpf, Wes Burke, Chris Green
Flash Designer: Matt Pennetti
Production Artist: Eric Powell
Flash Designer: Luis Hurtado
Flash Developer: Shant Parseghian
Editor: Dave Tousignant
The goal was deceivingly simple: to create on-line buzz for Warner Brother’s big screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. plays the updated Holmes, in part by playing himself. Jude Law is the oddly decisive and suspiciously attractive Watson. Clearly not your grandfather’s book-bound sleuths. There were early talks about complicated Victorian on-line games, ideas tossed around banking on several Phantom cameras shooting 1000 frames per second. It felt too technical. Not sexy enough. But more importantly, not strategically relevant or native to the film it was designed to promote.
Instead we picked up on one unique aspect of the new Holmes — his uncanny, frantic ability to observe. Like a bird on cocaine. We wanted to give the viewer the ability to experience what Sherlock sees. Make the interactive element and our experience directly related to a promise for the feature film. But never try to recreate the film. Or a foggy London anno 1890. This project begged to be a timeless cinematic era mash-up, a world that would have David Lynch feel at home. And because distribution of the on-line film is world wide, we put ourselves to the test and asked: how do we create a visual mystery — without any dialogue — that still delivers a rich mystery narrative.
With a crew and cast of 100 on set every day, 3 brilliant directors of photography working side by side, 7 cameras, 3 capture formats and a costume lead from “Mad Men” set and lots of coffee, we set the stage. One large, timeless, labyrinth of a location. A private club filled with characters from around the world. A formal event: cigar smoke wafts, elevator doors reveal, mirrors disguise, glances distract and seduce. Everyone’s a suspect. We enter, as first person view camera. We are Holmes. Then — a crime takes place right before our eyes. What really happened? Who did it? Why?
Just like the new Holmes, the interactivity lets viewers dive in to the crime-scene to see what others can’t — to suspend time and space. Pick up the smallest of details. The slightest movement. A glance. A sound. These are “Holmes Moments” — each one offering clues that together unveil a bigger and more sinister narrative. We used plenty from our DK arsenal: multiple camera formats, visceral editing, burst-mode, macro-photography, sound design, slow-motion, compositing and some techniques we will never reveal — the individual Holmes Moments catering to what is revealed in each of the 20 clues.
Warner Brother’s partnership with Microsoft’s branded entertainment division and MSN spread the interactive film to millions of viewers over 4 continents. But there’s nothing really mysterious about what happens then.
Creative Director/Writer: Johan Liedgren
Interactive Creative Director: Erik Reponen
Senior Creative: Ryan Gagnier
Creative: Morgan Henry
Producers: Morgan Henry, Chezik Walker
Designers: Chris Abbas, John Foreman, Jeremy Stuart, Cody Cobb, Eric Bauer, Russell Hirtzel.
Editors: Brian Cole, Shawn Fedorchuk, Slavka Kolbel
Director of Photography: Martin Ahlgren
Line Producer/Assistant Director: Eugene Mazzola
Camera Operators: Rodney Taylor, Morgan Henry
Steadicam Operator: Kenneth Faro
Exec. Producer/Head of Creative: Mark Bashore
Sound Design/Composition: LUCIT