Last year, we approached STUDIOCANAL with an opportunity for them to better utilise their impressive classic film rights. Browsing through their extensive back-catalogue, we began thinking – how can we help STUDIOCANAL to reenergise some of cinema’s most iconic stories for re-release? How can we excite and engage a new, wider audience in these old, black-and-white movies?

Well, answering questions like these is at the very heart of what we do.

With a series of offerings, our intention was to transform the lifecycle of these films from linear to 360 – keeping the movies alive and enthusing generations far beyond their initial release. And with the coincidence of the 75th anniversary of the Raid and 100 years of the RAF falling in 2018, the 1955 classic The Dam Busters was the perfect case-study to exemplify the potential of STUDIOCANAL’s catalogue whilst at the same time celebrating and raising awareness of these significant anniversaries.

With a 360 approach in mind, our proposal was fivefold:

  • A stunning 4k restoration and rerelease of the film
  • A behind-the-scenes restoration featurette as a DVD/Blu-ray extra
  • An ‘Event’-style Cinema experience, creating a buzz for the rerelease whilst simultaneously developing a presence for STUDIOCANAL in this increasingly popular space
  • A ‘Making-Of’ style mini-documentary as a DVD/Blu-ray accompaniment
  • An immersive online VR experience as a piece of promotional content

With our partners taking care of the restoration and event-style cinema experience, the rest fell into our capable hands.

Whilst a re-release of the restored film was an exciting offering for existing movie fans, military enthusiasts and older generations, widening the scope of the potential audience meant engaging a younger generation. This is where our skills really stepped in.The innovative war strategies the 1955 film depicts were recreated in production in an equally innovative way, laying the groundworks for the future of cinematography and inspiring modern-day giants of Hollywood, including Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson.

We saw this as an important and exciting story to be told, and, after sourcing previously unpublished material from behind-the-scenes, we created ‘The Making Of’ The Dam Busters mini-documentary.

A tight budget and an extremely tight turnaround time didn’t mean a compromise on quality. In a matter of months, we were able to conceptualise, research and develop the original script and narrative with supporting storyboards, source, review and compile extensive imagery and footage, track down and interview surviving crew members, record voiceover, edit and then grade a final product that properly met the brief.

Telling the behind-the-scenes story meant that the audience both old and new were able to observe the film in a different way, finding a mutual appreciation for the innovation of the filmmakers.

But still, we thought bigger.

Our goal was always to push the boundaries of what we were able to do to revitalise and contemporise this 1955 film. So, we decided to take audience experience to the next level.

We combined new technologies to create an immersive VR video that retold key moments from the film in a way that put viewers at the heart of the action in a way that was previously unachievable, all while promoting STUDIOCANAL’s rerelease of the iconic film.

The planning and production of an offering of this kind involved a lot of detailed contributions, including storyboarding, location sourcing, 360 filming and spatial audio, drone filming, 360 editing, grading new footage to match the 1955 film footage, music licensing, social media monitoring and analytics, and, most excitingly, coordinating with the RAF for access to the only operational Lancaster bomber in the UK.

STUDIOCANAL were delighted with the outcomes, all delivered on time, and well-within budget. New, broader audiences were drawn in by our engaging and immersive offerings. The ‘Making-Of’ documentary undoubtedly contributed to the exceeding of STUDIOCANAL’s pre-sale expectations on shipping units of the DVD re-release, and the VR experience, having served and still serving its promotional purposes, has been placed in Museums across the country for educational purposes.

Our unique combination of documentary film-making and immersive 360’ video content provided access to historical archives to a wider audience, increasing awareness of the events themselves, but also of STUDIOCANAL’s extensive film catalogue.