‘I have the perfect project for you’…

That’s how I was introduced to the concept of the BIMA D Day a few weeks ago, from my esteemed colleague Lyle, Head of Operations here at Leighton, with a wide smile.

Was my reply.

‘nothing to worry about’ he said ‘just need you to go to a school for a day and talk to some students about working in the digital industry…’

Images of me being eaten alive by a swarming shoal of hungry piranhas suddenly pop into my head. I have presented to some scary clients in my time, but a room full of students…now that’s a tough audience!
However, nothing could have been further from the truth. It was in fact, a day full of inspiration, creativity and feeling very humbled by the talent of the future generation of digital experts that will be coming through the industry in the not-too-distant future.

The idea of the BIMA D Day was to inspire and tutor the students (in my case, a group of nineteen 14 year olds at The Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street) about the amazing possibilities for them in the digital industry, which is growing year-on-year. To guide them on the day there were some digital challenges to undertake. My group had chosen the ‘Multimedia Challenge’ where they had to pick a subject and create a viral video about it. Split into 3 groups, they decided that parodies of ‘Gangnam Style’, ‘James Bond’ and ‘Paranormal Destination’ would yield the best results and set about brainstorming their ideas.

What was immediately clear is that this was second nature to these students. To them it wasn’t necessary to define the exercise as ‘digital’ because the practice of producing engaging content and the concept of the power of peer to peer endorsement has always played such a large part of their lives (a fact that made me painfully aware that I’ve been in the ever changing ‘digital industry’ longer than these students have been alive!). The tools they have at their disposal are completely integrated into their everyday lives; they are connected via the latest technology and they are very comfortable using it. It is a topic I bring up with their Teacher Mr Butt, who agrees that the use of mobile devices in the classroom can’t be ignored or controlled and is now actually incorporated in their learning where possible.

Following a round of storyboarding, each group is eager to present their ideas to the room. Again it is fascinating to see the roles and responsibilities of each team emerge as they describe the outline of their concepts and the whole group get involved in providing feedback. It is a hub of creativity and the ideas that are crafted to answer the brief are quite simply brilliant.

What follows is a blur of activity (paused briefly for a rather splendid school dinner) including prop hunting, special effect production, location scouting, equipment selection, acting, music sourcing and of course lots of filming around the school, before all the raw footage goes into editing.

All too soon the deadline is upon us, we are finished and 3 crafted films are ready to be shown to an eager audience. And I have to say, 3 brilliant pieces that certainly smash the brief. Campaigns that deserve to go viral and no doubt will.

I mentioned being humbled at the beginning of the piece and that is exactly what I felt at the end of the day. These students, their teachers and all those involved across the whole of the BIMA D Day event are sculpting ideas and nurturing creativity that doesn’t really need an industry definition. Its just part of their lives and it comes naturally to them.

One thing is for certain though, judging by the talent of those students I worked with, the agency of the future is going to be a very exciting place indeed.