A large amount of the video productions we work on at Urbane Media are related to the energy sector, so it seemed like the most fitting subject for this article. Members of the team have been making videos for the energy sector for over 10 years now and by far the longest standing professional relationship has been with Stena Drilling. In fact, our Creative Director's first ever trip offshore was to the Stena Carron in 2012 when it was positioned west of Shetland. Since then he has travelled to Norway, Ghana and even Peru with Stena Drilling and filmed onboard every asset in their current fleet. Looking back on the work we have been involved in with the company has made us think about all the attributes that have made our collaborations a success and in this piece we are going to focus on just that: the collaboration between the production company and the client.
If you were to ask us what the two most important things are to a video production, we would say it is the story/message of the video and successful teamwork to be able to pull everything together. This is the reason we think the Stena Drilling projects come out so well. We are completely integrated into the Stena Drilling team and never feel like we are coming from a contracted company to simply deliver a project for them. We can interact with everyone and explore all the ideas that come to mind and this is an important aspect. Being able to have a completely open dialogue with your client where you can honestly discuss ideas, receive all the information you need and take and give feedback really helps to get everyone to understand the vision for the video so the message is conveyed in a creative and interesting way.
The nature of working offshore means that you have to adapt to the procedures and ways of working set by your client. There is an element of collaboration here that goes beyond working together to create the end video and this can be said of any discipline offshore. Being there you are expected to work safely, following the procedures and standards that they set, but you also have to be collaborative. If you think there’s something that can be improved on or something that has been overlooked then they want to hear about it and work with you to make things safer and/or more efficient. You are as accountable as anyone else onboard and it is another example of how we feel very integrated into the team with Stena Drilling. Some of their assets have impressive safety records. We were recently onboard the Stena Spey where they had just achieved 8 years without any lost time incidents and that really makes you think about how you are going to carry out your tasks when onboard. If we were to act unsafely and an incident were to happen then we would have ruined that achievement for them. Creating these videos for them involves flying drones close to the asset and entering several different work areas with a camera, some of which have the potential to be hazardous, so there is a real element of trust given to us that we are competent enough to do the work safely. We want to capture the best footage that we can, but we don’t want to leave with anyone thinking that doing so was risky or threatened the safety and performance of the rig.
Pushing the Boat Out
To get to some of the locations where the rigs are located can sometimes feel like a whole job in itself. When we travelled to Peru to join the Stena Forth we had to first fly to London to head into the city and collect visas for working in the country, before flying to Madrid, sleeping on the plane overnight to Lima and then Talara for a night stop, before getting a helicopter out to the Forth. By the time we got onboard the drillship it had been around 52 hours since we had first boarded the flight leaving Aberdeen. After so much travelling you will obviously feel a bit tired, but you have to be able to get focused on the production quickly as any trip offshore will mean you are working to a very specific time schedule and it’s often fairly tight. These are the circumstances where you have to go the extra mile for your client as the tight time schedule is often down to how much bed space they have onboard and you may only have so many days to capture what you need before a critical phase of the work scope begins and someone integral to that work needs to be onboard instead of you. And with the very nature of how you get offshore, there won’t be any option to reshoot or capture any pick-ups after you’ve left.
Becoming Part of the Crew
Having filmed onboard many different rigs, ships and jack-ups we’ve found that it’s really important to be able to mix well with the crew. If you integrate with them then it is so much easier to find out what is going on and if it’s something you should be covering for the story of the video. When we first arrive onboard we often find that the crew can be a bit reserved because they are being cautious in case the footage is being collected for a health and safety audit or something similar. This is another reason to integrate with them, because as soon as they understand why we're there and how they’ll be involved, they are much more accepting of us being onboard and often become very forthcoming with information and ideas. When in Peru with Jacqui from Stena Drilling, who manages their creative content, we were able to mix well with the crew. It did help of course that she had been onboard the rig several times and already knew a good amount of the crew. In doing this we were able to uncover a whole different angle to the story that we were there to tell. Originally, we were focusing on just the area of Peru, challenges and milestones that were achieved. Whilst speaking to a few of the crew members, however, we discovered the interesting aspects of their journey to get to Peru. It was the first time a Stena Drilling ship had rounded Cape Horn and entered the Pacific Ocean. The crew made the journey over Christmas and New Year and encountered some challenging weather to get there. This really opened up the story for us and gave us something that felt much more complete and more personal.
The Perfect Blend
Being able to collaborate fully with your client will allow you to develop ideas, unearth new possibilities and be on the same page so that the end video is delivering exactly what your client needs it to. We always look at the client and the production crew as being part of the same team. We all need to work together well to produce the best result possible. We have been involved with productions where the client has given us a brief and then just left us to get on with things and we’ve also been part of productions where the client has been very engaged throughout the process, letting us do the creative part, but giving us everything we need to understand the purpose of the video. By far the later has always led to a clearer end goal, less reworking in the edit process and better final results.