Passion. Pride. Ambition. Capturing the Boro Brand.
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When long-time friend of Mocha, Barry Webber took over the reigns of Stevenage FC in December 2013, he became the youngest ever CEO of a Football League club.
Quite aside from an immediate battle to avoid relegation from Sky Bet League One (ultimately a battle unfortunately lost), Barry had other challenges to address off the pitch – most notably re-branding a football club that had never really articulated to it’s fan base or prospective commercial partners just what Stevenage FC is all about.
As an experienced Commercial Director in the Premier League (formerly with West Ham and Newcastle United), Barry has always acknowledged the importance of communicating brand values and really identifying the DNA of a football club – nailing down exactly what makes it tick – on an emotional level. And so, when he picked the phone up to Mocha a few months back, it was with the challenge of helping Stevenage FC to tell the world what it’s all about, through a flagship brand film.
Stevenage to many is the UK’s first New Town and the place Lewis Hamilton used to call home. To me, it’s far more than that. It’s where I would be carted off to hospital as an injury-prone young kid. It’s where I sneaked into nightclubs as a teenager with my mates. It’s where I went to watch football when a season ticket to my beloved Liverpool never materialised. And ultimately it’s where I went to North Hertfordshire College to start learning about filmmaking.
So to say I was excited about the possibility of writing and directing a high-end brand film for Stevenage FC is something of an understatement.
Following a reunion meeting with Barry, a tour of the Lamex Stadium and a full briefing as to what this film needed to say, it was time to put pen to paper. Writing a script for a piece of film like this comes with a heavy weight of responsibility – a responsibility for articulating a club’s brand DNA and capturing the hearts, minds and emotions of a savvy, often cynical audience – all in less than three minutes. A poet laureate I’m certainly not, but for some reason a poetic script just felt right for this film – it helped to really convey what Stevenage FC means to those who love it, the passion, the pride, the ambition, in a very honest way. It’s the beautiful game right? So I felt a beautifully-written script was a must.
The shoot itself was something of an emotional homecoming for me – albeit a sleep-deprived weekend of 5am starts – and was made even more special by the pleasure of working with a cast that included my older brother and 9 year-old nephew (the Dad and lad). Both genuine Boro fans, it was a privilege to work so closely with family and to create something that I know we will all look back on fondly for years to come. The shoot even necessitated a brief visit to our home town of Biggleswade – over the county border in Bedfordshire – though the train station platform was as far as we had time to venture.
The shoot could not have gone better – Stevenage even scoring a late winner to defeat Walsall 3-2 and lift the relegation blues slightly.
Sometimes, a project comes along that really invigorates us as a creative team – and it’s fair to say this was one of them. The small, but perfectly formed crew worked tirelessly to bring the script to life in stunning RED Epic 5k over two intense shoot days and I have to thank Matty, Wallo, Vinnie and Rob for such an awesome effort. The biggest compliment I can pay them is that as I was editing the film, it dawned on me that this film was going to be even more beautiful than I had hoped. I also have to say a huge thanks to the amazing (and very patient) cast – Malc, Finlay, Dave (Boro Bear) and the young Stevenage Foundation supporters – as well as all the staff at Stevenage FC, those who found themselves in front of the camera and those who ran a mile but helped make it happen.
This is a film that we’re chuffed to have made and injected our own passion, pride and ambition into. It launches online today and we hope it gets a great reception and hopefully lifts a few England world cup hangovers. Obviously, we hope it sells season tickets. We hope it attracts commercial partners. But more than anything Stevenage – we hope we did you proud.