The Long Hollow team wasn’t necessarily inspired by a specific visual theme. They were, however, huge fans of shows like LOST. They were fans of mystery. So they knew they wanted that to be a dominant theme in their visuals.
They settled on an image of a silhouette. They wanted this Phillip Randoll character to be an everyman. They wanted people to be able to put their friends, family, or themselves in that silhouette’s position. The audience could be the hero of the story.
They also wanted numbers in the forefront. They wanted a countdown. That provided both a sense of urgency and mystery. “What happens when the clock reaches zero? What’s the clock counting down to?” Since they didn’t release the idea that Phillip Randoll would be dying until one week before the production, the countdown provided a strong element of mystery to the piece.
Eric Murrell also wanted to incorporate an alternate reality feel to it. Eric, a self-proclaimed nerd, had participated in several viral marketing and alternate reality games throughout the years. He wanted to see if they could incorporate that sort of thing into this campaign.
Those three aspects were the main criteria and driving factors for all the visual elements of “The Fortunate Death of Phillip Randoll”.
In the planning stages, their creative director, Jason Dyba, envisioned a combination of acting and a video wall to narrate the story. Jason knew their actors weren’t strong enough to carry the lines perfectly and in time with the music. He also didn’t want to build a ridiculously complex set. So the video wall seemed like a perfect solution.
Unfortunately, Jason had never seen anything like that – until one of their video guys, Brian Zimmerman, showed him a video from Blaine Hogan at Willow Creek.
It looked like Blaine beat them to it. But that helped them really see how it could work for the live story.
The use of the video wall provided a backdrop for the bits of silent acting on the stage, and it helped move the story forward through narrative. The video told the story and the actors followed along – contributing their bit to the saga. It also provided a few lyrics for a few key moments of worship in the middle of the production. The video figuratively and fortunately killed two birds with one stone.
And to finish out the story in that service, they added one last bit of visual intrigue. After another moment of worship, as the service was ending, Phillip re-emerged and walked out through zero. The lights went out and the screen read, “This is not the end. This is only the beginning.” They used that to hint at heaven – and to tease the congregation to come back for the sequel.