An hugely ambitious series of films around which beauty influencers are able to build their own content, allowing SKII – the brand – to build a platform and harness a massive following, in the process becoming synonymous with the best beauty influencers in the region and beyond.
The Beauty Bound project really is a one-off for ambition AND approach, with layers of influencer content woven around 8 separate series of 6 short episodes, each series shot in a different Asian country: Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong & Thailand.
SK-II’s hash tag #changedestiny is about empowerment and being a force for change throughout the world and the Beauty Bound programme is exactly that.
Beauty Bound – a two day event for Beauty influencers – was launched in 2016 and brought together beauty creators throughout the region. The eventual winner – crowned Beauty Bound Champion – wins an all expenses paid trip to New York to meet SKII ambassador Cate Blanchett. In 2017 SKII – with the help of their influencer agency Brave Bison – decided to turn the individual events into one cohesive online television series, that was in line with #changedestiny and the ambitions of the brand.
64 broadcast ready films to be shot around the region is a sizable undertaking and we jumped at the chance.
With an abundance of examples already online and on TV a reality game-show mechanism was at the forefront of Brave Bison’s thinking. Being fans of this genre we had lots of ideas around the initial approach and how best to execute the large body of work. We started in earnest by refining the episodes that would tease from one film into the next, giving viewers a journey throughout the series.
With all the influencer content to be generated around the local series we felt that the series we were making had to feel aspirational with solid production values, immediately recognizable from all the other pieces of content being made for the platform by the dozens of influencers.
Each series of six episodes had to be locally relevant to viewers, with the local winner heading to Okinawa, Japan for the grand finale in #facethewild challenge, winner taking all bragging rights as Champion of Beauty Bound Asia, and heaps of super cool prizes – not to mention a platform to become an influencer of real note.
We felt it important to take the time needed to refine not only the idea, but explore aspects that would make the series even more interesting to viewers and so we became students of the reality game-show genre exploring why people enjoyed watching them, whilst delving into the world of beauty creators, familiarizing ourselves with the who’s who of headline beauty creators. Thankfully Brave Bison and SKII came to us way in advance of delivery so we had a comfortable pre-production phase that allowed us to get all our ducks in a line – we took full advantage of the run in which paid huge dividends down stream on the production.
As you would with a regular TV reality game-show series we started to build a production bible about the different episodes, where jeopardy would play a part and where we wanted to focus the series’ narratives, supplemented by a solid justification of our approach. Working shoulder to shoulder with Brave Bison we helped present the approach and the bible to the SKII.
7 countries in six months had a real appeal to the team and we relished the chance to build the films with local nuances and localize each of the country’s series; to start with that meant filming each film in the national language – so across the 7 series we filmed we had to capture films in Thai, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, English, and Bahasa Indonesia. Sending our core team from Singapore to each of the destinations we made sure we had the right local support; so we could bring continuity and quality across all the series but not at the expense of the localization – which was core to the initial brief.
Directing in languages other than English is something we’re well used to – with over half our films delivered in languages other than English. Likewise filming abroad is second nature to us, with a well warn network of local fixers that support our core team from HQ. Currently 70% of our films are shot abroad. Local fixers do on-the-ground translation between director and protagonists and local crews. Once we have the film in the can we work with translators back at HQ that transcribe all the rushes, subtitling them from the outset, so where ever the rushes go they have clear English translations.
Of course in the middle of all the production was a genuine competition, everyone involved wanted the best representative possible to go onto the finals in Okinawa. So behind the scenes we had to continually check in with the judges (influencers themselves) and of course for the narrative to conclude one outright winner. Brave Bison built the digital assets, and wrangled all the contestants and judges leaving us to produce the series, and establish a narrative – no small task, 8 months to produce 64 films; ready, steady, GO!
The finale – shot in Okinawa – had an extra element of complication, in that the film had to be delivered the following day so it could ride the publicity wave generated by the immediate nature of the influencers as they blogged, vlogged, twitted and instagrammed there and then. Still, Okinawa isn’t a place of hardship to do an edit in double quick time.
When you shoot observational films like this you find yourself with a mass of rushes (if you consider for every set up you have at least two cameras), by the time you arrive in edit you have to wade through a lot of rushes to get what you want. Conforming (piecing together the rushes) is a time consuming task but well worth the effort especially down-line when we went through amendments with Brave Bison and SKII. Knowing that the series would have many invested partners we aspired to get as close to what we had promised from the outset with the production bible. To wrangle the feedback from multiple layers at the agency (Brave Bison) and SKII we worked with a great piece of software that collated all the feedback in a manageable and easy way – Wipster
Because this type of game-show is so well established – popular culture knows the ins and outs of the mechanisms driving the narratives – we were able to abbreviate some aspects; concentrating on the narratives around the jeopardy of the competition, which led to a higher tempo.
To be able to hit our mark on so many films in such a congested time is proof of our approach, unique team ethos and a boundless can-do attitude. Keeping the quality production values and consistency throughout every film is testament to our eye for detail and process driven approach to breaking down a project and tackling individual aspects, that when you put it all back together again makes cohesive, quality films that everyone can be proud of.