We are very proud to have worked with Positive Edge Education on a series of short films to illustrate the concept of “Growth Mind-Set”, a truly revolutionary approach to learning.

The brief was to create six short films and to use drama to convey certain aspects of Growth Mind-Set while also explaining the science behind the concept.

Early on it was decided to use real historical characters who had used various concepts of Growth Mind-Set to find great success in spite of incredible odds or being labelled failures.

We then decided to select three characters from history – Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Olympic legend, Wilma Rudolph, and to produce two films for each of them: a short drama illustrating how the celebrated individual used growth mind-set principles and an accompanying “explainer” video to highlight the scientific facts behind those principles.

Most of the films were shot in a green-screen studio. This, along with good planning in the form of detailed scene breakdowns for each of the days, storyboards and shot lists made it possible for us to shoot an entire short film in one day (albeit a very long one!), but it also meant several weeks longer in post-production, generating all the digital set-pieces and compositing all the elements.

Storyboard art
Storyboard art
Storyboard art

Most of the scenes for the films were shot in a Green-screen studio – with the set-pieces (and occasional dinosaur or cat) added later.




However, for the last of the series, Unlimited which tells the story of Wilma Rudolph, we shot several scenes in real locations including a church, a sports hall and an athletic stadium. This meant more planning and more logistics, luckily we had a great co-producer in Nigel Martin Davey who literally produced miracles on the budget we had to work with.

Setting up on location - Cameras at the ready at Abbey Stadium in Redditch.
Setting up on location – Cameras at the ready at Abbey Stadium in Redditch
From left to right – Co-producer Nigel Martin Davey, Actress Sophie Delora Jones (Wilma Rudolph), co-director/co-producer Dominic Higgins and co-director/co-producer Ian Higgins

We didn’t have a green-screen big enough however for one shot. Luckily, there was plenty of greenery around for us to adapt our “green-screen” techniques to replace the background!

We were also very lucky in that Thomas Westenholz, the founder of Positive Edge was both very understanding of the amount of work that had to go into each of the films and also willing to allow us so much creative freedom all the way through the production process. Having said that, these films were very much still a collaborative effort, with Thomas adding valuable feedback and suggestions along the way.

All films used extensive special make-up effects alongside the CG effects. Tania Ashworth was the make-up wiz responsible for turning actors James Bryhan and Roger Harding into the older Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin respectively.

Left: Roger Harding in make-up as Charles Darwin. Right: James Bryhan as Einstein
Left: Roger Harding in make-up as Charles Darwin.  Right: James Bryhan as Einstein

The make-up took several hours to apply and needed constant re-touching during the shoot, but the efforts were well worth it and looked great on camera.

The most complex of the make-up jobs though, was transforming Leo Ashizawa into a prehistoric cave-man. We had recently worked with Leo on our feature project, All That Remains and his ability to alter his physical mannerisms for a role made him our first choice. He’s also very patient, which was a good thing, as the make-up took the longest to apply of all the jobs.

Tania Ashworth transforms Leo Ashizawa into a prehistoric man.
Tania Ashworth transforms Leo Ashizawa into a prehistoric man.

This film – Evolution, also illustrates how we like to mix both traditional and CG effects. We also grafted on a digital face to Leo, so he could play a second cave-man.

Left: Actor Leo Ashizawa in caveman make-up. Right: Leo's face replaced with a digital version
Left: Actor Leo Ashizawa in caveman make-up. Right: Leo’s face replaced with a digital version

The other CG effects included generating a T-Rex and a vision of the future. The CG elements usually consisted of a mixture of 3D renders, photographs and live action footage.

Like All That Remains we shot all scenes using multiple cameras set up to capture the scene from different angles.

Again, this meant more time setting up the lighting before a scene, as we didn’t want to compromise the artistic lighting of each shot, but once we had it set up, it allowed us to shoot a scene pretty quickly, and, from a directing point of view, it allowed us to concentrate more on the performances. Although we may only end up using just two, or even one of the angles, it gives us more freedom in the edit suite. Legendary director Akira Kurosawa once said he preferred to have less camera angles to choose from when editing, but we like to play with different ideas when we have the film in the edit suite, for us, our films are in a constant state of evolving and changing, right up until the moment we render the final cut.

We also created all the poster and publicity artwork for the project. As well as keeping the costs down, it allowed us to ensure the visual style of the films was conveyed consistently across all promotional material.

Promo poster for the Positive Edge films
Promo posters for the Positive Edge films

Enjoy the trailer and please do check out Positive Edge and join the revolution!