An underwater project making waves


When I ask my project power pupils what project success means to them, the answers that come back are consistently around delivering on time and on budget. I take them through an exercise that challenges them to think a little broader. By the end of the 1-hour masterclass, project success takes on a completely new meaning. 

Until you yourself are in it, does one rarely appreciate just what effort and talent goes into making a successful project.

The closest I’ve gotten to being involved in film production was with an agency that was producing a TV advert for a financial institution. My role was really tiny on the project management side but I got a first-hand understanding of the talent and components needing to come together. A script, storyboards, music selections, castings, call sheets, director’s treatments, wardrobe treatment, stylists, props, location scout, video treatments, pre-production meetings, post-production meetings, and and and. 

Now, whenever I watch a video or advert or film I can’t help but think about the project team behind its success.

Recently I watched a Netflix film Chasing Coral

If you haven’t watched it, it is an incredible production where they did an underwater timelapse of coral.

I thought about the team behind this moving movie, I wondered how they got it right and what was their recipe for project success.

From an outsider looking in, these 3 things struck me … 

  1. Project Purpose. This project mattered, not just to them, but to the world. They needed to be able to show the world how warming trends on the planet are happening so rapidly and the effect this is having on the global patterns of temperatures in the ocean. They needed the world to understand that coral reefs will not be able to keep up and this means eradication of an entire ecosystem in our lifespan.
  2. People & Passion. A collection of experts with areas of genius came together, worked together, and probably cried together – from coral reef biologists to marine biologists, underwater photographers, project managers, PR people, cinematographers  … I imagine the list was pretty extensive. But they all shared a passion for the project purpose and brought unique expertise and a mixed skillset to this project.
  3. Technology Tenacity. Getting this right wasn’t simple, I imagine it took a few “continuous improvement” retrospectives. How do you simulate an ocean floor around a camera bubble? I imagine that must be impossible to do, it’s only when you’re in it, do you understand the sheer energy and power of the ocean.

Project Success is most definitely not only about delivering on time and on budget, yep, this counts, but creating something that matters and/or adds value should be the shining success factor.

Check out the Chasing Coral trailer here: