We spoke to Catherine Allen, Executive Producer at Lyristic, about the project.
Can you sum up the pilot for us?
No Small Talk is a VR talkshow that lets you sit in on conversation and coffee between two super inspiring women - TV presenter & journalist, Cherry Healey and social media sensation, Emma Gannon. Join them over coffee to hear the pair discussing big ideas that underpin both our daily life and the world around us.
What are you trying to learn from it being on Taster?
We set out to test the concept that natural conversation is one of the best ways to convey and develop ideas. We're keen to find out if VR can convey the magic of conversation.
How was it made?
No Small Talk is a co-production from Lyristic and VR City. Our team began the process by working out what makes a great conversation. We had lots of fun having our own test conversations and listening to others have conversations, but we also found it really useful looking into academic research on the subject. Our findings were at the heart of everything else we did from that moment onwards.
Our intended audience are young women, so we picked a few broad zeitgeist subjects that are particularly relevant to this group. This was certainly an interesting process - both me and the show's producer, Dorothea Gibbs are 'millenial woman' ourselves, so it was fascinating to look at our demographic from a distance. I became uncannily aware of the conversations I was having with my friends!
A few weeks before filming, we invited Cherry and Emma to brainstorm around these chosen subjects. The goal of the brainstorming was to stimulate background thinking so the pair could be ready to chat spontaneously, but also feel prepared. The shoot itself took place across a day. We took over a coffee shop and took the best bits of a conversation that actually lasted several hours long. One challenge with 360 video that comes up a lot is where to hide the crew. Dorothea and director Darren Emmerson had this great idea that the crew should be extras; fellow coffee shop customers. We got through a lot of coffee that day!
What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
Our main challenges lay in trying to make the most of the authentic, rawness of the 360° video medium. Luckily, producer Dorothea and the VR City team have lots of experience in addressing this challenge. Our director, Darren Emmerson did an amazing job here at capturing the spontaneous, fluid nature of conversation, in a way that felt akin to being there. However, the experience could only be ten minutes long; a length much shorter than most deep, exploratory discussions. We solved this through a simple, chaptered editing style. This made it obvious to the audience, that we had chosen a select few exciting chunks, of something that took much longer in real life.