The Net Zero Documentary we made for MSCI was a project unlike anything we had tackled before. Not only was it a much longer film than we were used to creating, but it had to incorporate a huge number of contributors, all of whom would have to be filmed remotely. It was a behemoth undertaking – a moving beast that became a force of its own as the project evolved, morphing from a small-scale conference thought piece into a feature-length documentary that demanded its very own website to exist within.
The brief itself was complex from the very beginning. We were asked to create a piece of content that would educate viewers on Net Zero and showcase the tools MSCI can provide to help their clients reach their Net Zero goals. But don’t be deceived by its simplicity. This film would have to straddle genres: it had to inform and educate its viewers; inspire them to take action; amaze and impress by showcasing MSCI’s tools; all the while performing as a sales pitch without eclipsing its intellectual value. What appears to be a straightforward brief becomes a delicate and complex task when read in between the lines.
On top of this, MSCI already had a high number of contributors they wanted to include in their piece – all of whom were scattered across the globe in the middle of a pandemic. Filming their footage was a task in and of itself; not only were we forced to work through Zoom, but time differences demanded our team work through the night on multiple occasions to capture the footage we needed.
One of the ways the team prepared for such an undertaking was to create a director’s video, as well as an animatic, to show our vision. We also conducted in-depth pre-screening calls with every one of our interviewees to get to know the way they work and the research they would be discussing, working for hours on end to refine and condense a structure of conversation that would form the backbone of the piece. After all, each one of the people involved would be able to talk about their area of expertise for an hour or more alone – and yet our team faced the daunting challenge of condensing their discussion into one hour between them all.
Working with close to 25 hours of recorded Zoom footage, the dedicated team of editors set about segmenting the beast of a project into chapters, so different editors could work on them concurrently. It was during this process that the real excitement began. As we sent various edits off for review, word travelled through MSCI, and excitement began to ripple through the company. More and more people wanted to be involved, asking about this legendary documentary rumoured to be in the works. We were asked to make teaser trailers, not just for the main website, but to be dispersed throughout different channels of communication. Word was travelling fast, and excitement grew to such a pitch that the CEO himself wanted to know more about what we were working on – and was so impressed, he simply had to be in it.
We were finding ourselves in the unusual position of truly out-doing ourselves – the better the work we did, the more people wanted to be involved, and more the beast grew. People who were originally scheduled to be recorded for this small-scale thought piece were being replaced by bigger names. We were asked to create yet another edit to be showcased at COP26. And as anticipation grew, the higher-ups at MSCI decided that such a piece of work couldn’t be hosted on some corner of the existing website; instead, it demanded its very own hosting website. And so, the MSCI Net Zero Hub was born – a website we built from scratch.
The Net Zero Documentary is a perfect example of great work creating great work. It truly was a moving beast, a project that changed and grew right through to its delivery, purely by virtue of the standard of excellence we set for ourselves.