Silvana Lima’s story of recognition versus sporting ability was the first in a six-part online series looking at how six sportswomen came to excel at their sport – the obstacles, challenges, failures and triumphs along the way. Silvana’s film was the first to be published. With nearly 4.8 million page views, this short film is the most viewed video story on the BBC News website in 2016 to date.
The success of this film was due to a classic combination of a compelling story, an emotive subject matter, an engaging character and cutting-edge filming techniques. And all produced on a shoestring budget of just a few thousand pounds.
The film received 500,000 referrals from social media. We planned our social media campaign well in advance of filming and went on to produce bespoke videos for all the BBC social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Vine. This meant lengthy discussions with BBC social media teams in the pre-production stages; extensive planning and detailed shot-lists on location and flexible working in post-production. We had to adapt the duration, font size and music making sure we complied with requirements for each social networking website whilst maintaining the highest visual and editorial standards. For this story, we purposefully designed and shot an extra, short, promotional film, making the most of unused drone footage. We asked Silvana to explain what goes through her mind when she tries to mount a wave. This acted as a standalone piece but also helped drive traffic to the full version.
Silvana’s story prompted significant discussion on the issue of looks and sponsorship in sport for women across a wide-range of websites. International media outlets including Fox News, Le Figaro, Brasil Post and La Gazzetta covered the story, embedding our video.
Silvana’s strength and determination were at the heart of this story and it was key that the quality of the shots equaled the power of her delivery in our interview. The combination of drone footage and underwater slow motion camera footage meant we could illustrate Silvana’s surfing technique in numerous ways, using them to match the narrative – close ups, abstract shots for more intimate, reflective moments, wide shots to show her speed and agility. This shoot was the first time we used our DJI Inspire drone and fs700 camera underwater. We wanted her voiceover to have impact so we made a sound booth in her house and recorded her interview with a large diaphragm condenser microphone.
The stylized look of the final film also helped to make an impact. We used a shutter speed of 100/s which immediately made it stand out from other features on the BBC News website. We also designed the grade specifically for the series, combining different looks and LUTs to give it an edgy look. We used these filming techniques in contrasting locations – the gritty, urban landscape against the idyllic beach.