Why it’s important to share your story. You never know who, or what, it will inspire.
Our First Time Filming President Barack Obama
Once you are intimately involved in a story so compelling, charismatic and inspirational, it is hard to let go. After working with the Obamas we had been able to engage with their stories as directors, cinematographers, interviewers, production managers and editors. But there was one part of filming the 44th President that really stuck with us. It was relatable, admirable, and romantic. It made us smile and gave us warm fuzzies inside. That one part? When President Obama ditched the teleprompter and spoke from the heart: “Hey Honey, listen I know you are with all these important Pennsylvania women and you’re sharing the stage with our buddy Shonda Rhimes, but I had to crash this party, because today, we have been married for 25 years…” In a little over two minutes, he wished Mrs. Obama ‘Happy Anniversary’ and recorded a video message for what would become a viral hit (over 11.7million views!) after its debut at the 2018 Pennsylvania Conference for Women.
A few months later when Mrs. Obama released her biography, Becoming we came across the story of how they met and that pivotal moment when we first met President Barack Obama as he delivered that loving 25th anniversary address was made even more real. After filming several times with President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama for the Obama Foundation, we were chosen as the production partner to shoot all key interviews for the Becoming book tour, including Mrs. Obama’s mother, Mrs. Robinson, and her brother Craig. In September of 2018, we returned to DC for the final two interviews. When we sat down with President Obama, we brought up the story of their first meeting immediately.
“So. We heard on your first day of work…you were late?”
After we completed our final interview with Mrs. Obama, we were invited to see her Becoming book tour at DC’s Capital One Arena. We were excited to be able to share the experience of hearing these amazing stories of courage and perseverance first hand with our team.
The Beginnings of A Love Story
And sometimes, when something sticks with you–there’s a reason. We loved this couple, and that story, and knew we weren’t the only ones who would connect instantly to their ’80s rom-com moment. The projects we have done with the Obamas have permeated our office for some time, but we had a talented team of designers who had yet to be involved.
They don’t always, but the stars aligned for this particular passion project, and with adequate time and resources we set forth to make a colorful, whimsical, :44 second animation (a precise run time in homage of the great #44). Everyone loves a meet-cute, and the story, as told by both Mrs. Obama and President Barack Obama, had to be big. Our colors were bright, and bold representing the era in which they met and as vibrant as the two personalities we had to depict. In the world of animation, we lost the barriers between time and space as we transported the viewer from moment to moment with the warmth of Mrs. Obama’s words. We doused the piece in nostalgia complete with leg warmers, Denise Austin inspired step aerobics, and one of those boxy 80’s Saab convertibles.
Passion projects are important. They help remind and refresh you. They allow you to break free of feedback or content restraints. They serve as opportunities to indulge in personal preferences built by years of experience, and to push boundaries into somewhere new. But above all, in this time in history where things were getting pretty dark, this particular labor of love brought us light. It reminded us that even the greats have had moments of vulnerability (you can be late to work on the first day and still end up President of the United States) and inspiration can come from anywhere. You never know what story of yours will inspire others. Even though this event didn’t happen to us directly, this was our national love story. A couple who had inspired us all for one reason or another. And a moment that we connected with so much we wanted to share it with others.
We know every story can’t unfold like a scripted indie romance. But as Mrs. Obama says so eloquently, “there’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.” So go ahead, “crash the party.”
We couldn’t have said it better.