When Mishaps Lead to Magnificence

You ever have one of those days where you need everything to go just right, and instead something goes wrong. Allow me to tell you a tale…

We’ve had the honor to produce four of the past six Creative Mornings presentations for the Atlanta chapter. Creative Mornings was started by designer and uber-blogger Tina Roth-Eisenberg (aka @swissmiss). They are inspirational and educational networking events where professional creatives come to mingle, connect, and learn. A top creative professional in the area gives a 20-30 minute mini-lecture on some key topic. What’s even better is that they are totally FREE.

The Atlanta chapter is organized by my good friends over at Matchstic (a brand design firm) and sponsored by Mailchimp. Last month’s presentation was given by Dwain Cox, Director of Innovation for Chick-fil-A. This was perhaps one of the most important presentations for Matchstic because Dwain is a client of theirs.

Well, wouldn’t you know that on this, of all days, the audio had issues. (For the record, we were not running audio that day. Just sayin’). The line Dwain’s mic was on chose not to work for some reason God only knows. The audio guy had to change out Dwain’s mic. Unfortunately, he changed it to a mic that my Zoom H4N digital audio recorder was not plugged into. It was also a hand-held mic tethered by a cord, limiting the physicality Dwain had put into the preso.

The presentation was already held up because of the first audio issue. The last thing I wanted to do in front of a packed house of anxious creatives was hold it up even more by re-connecting my recorder to the new mic, testing it, etc. (You know if I had, they’d all be thinking, “These #$%& video guys, always holding up the show.”) So, I made a judgment call.

Rather than disrupt the presentation any further, I chose to disconnect the Zoom from the mixer and just sit it under the main speaker and record ambient audio. The result is audible. Workable. Even bearable. But far from the level of quality I require. I’ve prided myself on getting really clean audio from the four presentations we’ve done (Doug Grimmett of Primal Screen, Matt Rollins of Iconologic, Ben Chestnut of Mailchimp and Rick Anwyl of Son and Sons). I was really bummed that this happened on the day we get an exec from Chick-fil-A.

Dwain is relegated to a hand-held mic.

Be Bold. Be Different.

Dwain was extremely gracious about the mishap. But you could tell there was some disappointment. Especially since his presentation was so incredibly inspiring. I decided then and there  that come hell or high water, I was going to re-record part of Dwain’s presentation, at least the most inspiring parts. As luck would have it, Dwain was equally committed to getting it right. He made it a point to make himself at our disposal to get the audio we needed.

Now, there are very few times when you get an opportunity like this. I thought: sure, we could re-record part of his audio and mix it with the crappy audio from the presentation. Or, I could be bold and ask Dwain if he’d be open to re-recording his entire presentation. He agreed.

Then I thought. “I could just edit his re-recorded presentation like any old lecture series. Or, I could take a chance and do something…different.” 😉 As I often do, I dared to dream big. It just so happens that the content of Dwain’s presentation generated this incredible imagery. So I thought to myself, “What if instead of editing this like a regular old lecture, we make it a documentary short film?” It’s never been done before and I wanted to be the first to do it.

Matchstic loved the idea. Dwain said, “I’ve learned a long time ago to trust the creatives.” So, that’s what we did. (Or rather, what we’re doing).

We are now in production of a short film documentary based on Dwain’s inspiring presentation. It will be the first ever Creative Mornings documentary film. We have a few more pick-up shots to finish it, but we have enough footage to give you a little teaser. (See below).

If the World Throws You Lemons…

You all know that saying, “When the world throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, I’m changing it. When the world throws you lemons, make “sweet tea.” (You probably have to be a frequent patron of Chick-fil-A, or a southerner, to truly appreciate that joke. 🙂  I’d love for you to share in the comments, stories you have of how you turned a mishap into something magnificent.

In the meantime, I don’t want to be the video guy holding up the show. So enjoy the teaser.

Click here to see the final film and a recap about the making of it.

19 thoughts on “When Mishaps Lead to Magnificence

  1. Dwain is one of those guys you can’t get enough of. I would love a miniature Dwain Cox in my satchel where I can open it up any time of the day and hear, “You’re doing great guy. Keep going.” Instant encouragement. 🙂

    It was such an blessed opportunity to meet him and be on this project. Well written post my friend.

  2. You continue to inspire my brother. Thanks again. I am looking forward to this documentary, don’t keep me waiting too long.

    1. Thanks for those kind words Andrew. You’re consistent encouragement is a blessing to me. We’re working hard to get it out. FWIW, the visual feel and style will is influenced by the incredible work of Flannel.org (e.g. “The Ed’s Story” and “Nooma” series).

  3. Cannot wait to see the entire thing…that was enough to jumpstart my day. I have a feeling the rest will jumpstart the next year. Awesome. And way to go!! Yes yes yes- turn those lemons into sweet tea and make the rest of the world crave more of it!

  4. Now this is inspiring! Not focusing on the negative and looking at the positive and how you can challenge yourself to be better. This makes the creative process so exciting.

    Definitely looking forward to the final piece.

  5. Back in the days of film, someone packed a camera bag for me and sent me out to shoot a speaker at a dedication ceremony. After 40 or so exposures it dawned on me that I hadn’t hit the end of the roll yet. (something the young kids won’t be able to relate to). I opened up the back of the camera only to see that the leader had not caught on the takeup spool. Consequently I hadn’t taken a single frame. I fixed the leader and closed the back, just in time to hear the speaker say, “Thank you very much…”

    Thinking quick I went up to him and said, “You know, I was taking pictures of you speech, but I got a lot of blinks and shots of you looking at your notes. Would you mind just posing for a few shots? He did. He even looked left and then right as if the crowd were still there. No one ever knew, and the pictures were great. And I learned a new skill for shooting speakers that habitually look at their notes. Not quite Sweet Tea, but definitely sweet…

    Ya gotta think quick…

    1. Man. I can’t imagine the feeling you had and saw the film had not advanced. Way to think on your feet. I’m sure you’re not the first to have had a client “re-do” something in order to get a shot. 🙂 Thanks for sharing that story Alan.

Comments are closed.