From cub to lion - how we brought the spirit of DMU to life for the big screen

A strong creative idea - that's what makes a good TV advert, according to the director of De Montfort University Leicester's (DMU's) new campaign.

The theme of DMU's new TV advert is 'Proud to be More', with scenes filmed on campus, in Leicester and overseas to showcase the different aspects of the student experience.

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The scenes are woven together with computer-generated (CG) strands, representing students, which gradually build DMU's iconic logo to form a big reveal of the lion in the final shot.

Director Alex Haines, from film production company Fat Lemon, said: "You need a strong idea at the core.

"It's about being uncomplicated, especially as you only have 30 or 60 seconds to tell the story.

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"The good thing about this advert is although there are a lot of elements to the narrative, it's the individual experiences of DMU students that come together to form the heart of the university.

"I wanted to create a really fluid motion through the whole thing, which has meant we had to do a lot of preparation and iPhone animatics and map out everything, to make shoot days as simple as possible."

The campaign was co-created by ad agency Cubo, visual effects studio Nineteentwenty and DMU's Marketing and Communications team.

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Students' pride at being the new faces of DMU

Alex said: "It's very much of a collaboration between everyone and this whole thing has been a bit of an evolution. In that sense it's not the usual scenario where everything is storyboarded to the maximum."

More than 50 students feature in prominent and supporting roles and Alex was full of praise for the performers.

"The students have been great," he said. "To get as many extras as we have willing to come and watch us do 30 takes and the individuals we've been working with have been super-open. You're getting them to change minute details, but everyone has been completely understanding."

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The process involved three days of filming in Leicester along with a shoot in New York, as part of a #DMUglobal experience, and footage from a volunteer trip with DMU Square Mile India.

It also proved a learning curve for Alex.

"It's my first three-day shoot and it has been very technical," he said: "My favourite scene was dropping a 10-metre piece of fabric from the top of the Vijay Patel Building stairs. Our runners tested this first on an iPhone and got it in about 12 takes."

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Jonathan Sant, creative director at Cubo, spent a lot of time speaking to students before the team settled on the 'Proud to be More' concept.

He said: "Really, you need an hour to tell the whole DMU story but the question was how we communicate pride, strength and the nurturing side to DMU in one symbol and the answer was staring us in the face - the DMU lion.

"The great thing is we have access to a lot of great students, who have all had amazing experiences that have changed them as people, and the tricky thing is trying to tell the story in as authentic way as possible.

"Another tricky thing is we are only doing one small part of it, the live action. The magic really happens when it gets into the CG world and we can knit all these pieces together to form the lion.

"We have a specially commissioned track that goes with it, a track that slowly builds and builds with the lion and an emotive voiceover which comes through. So when you get all these bits together, the live action, the CG, the music and the voiceover, the idea is it comes to a crescendo with the powerful lion that's so symbolic to everything we want to say."

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Seeing what goes into filming a TV campaign has also helped the student performers.

Summer 2018 Drama graduate Calum Harris filmed his scene at Leicester's Curve, where he has previously performed as part of DMU's partnership with the theatre.

He added: "It was an excellent opportunity, as I got to see how a professional advertising company works, which will itself benefit me hugely in the future as I want to be an actor and I'll be hoping to go into projects like advertising in my career."

Posted on Friday 12th October 2018

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