PIG’s chief of chaos sits down with LBB to talk quarantine, Covid-19, remote production and life under a new “normal”

This month, PIG Chief Chaos Officer (and MD) Nick Dodet spoke with LBB’s Natasha Patel about Covid-19 and the production industry. He believes the West can learn quite a few things from China’s response, and shares innovative ways the team has found to work within all the new restrictions.

As the western world grapples with the pandemic, China has lifted most sanctions, and the Chinese production scene is slowly finding its place in a new “normal”. Nick shares his views on the whole situation with LBB.

Excerpts from the interview below.

What’s the current situation in China with production?

Production is kind of coming back to normal right now. In the past week there’ve been a lot of shoots after we saw a few in early March, then some more mid-month. There were a lot of restrictions but fewer and fewer now compared to in March when we could apply and get a permit to shoot in a public location, but if any of the local residents felt unsafe , they would call the cops and shut us down. No questions asked. Now it’s mostly getting better and we can pretty much shoot from anywhere.

Did you come across any interesting ways to get around the restrictions?

We started developing more remote shooting where clients and agencies would remain in China and a crew would shoot in, let’s say, South Africa and everything would be watched live back over here.

Now it’s been completely flipped around in that foreigners are not allowed to enter China at the moment – even if they possess a green card. At the moment we’ve got jobs confirmed with foreign agencies, production companies and clients who they can’t shoot where they are, so they will shoot in China remotely. We’re getting more of these requests, which are basically in a living room in the West and on the set here in China.

What can companies around the world learn from China’s experience of Covid-19 and coming out the other end of it?

You’ve got to make yourself small, if you’re not working you have no revenue so you have to weather the storm. Just keep your chin up because eventually things get better. What allowed us to get out of that first wave so quickly is that it literally came down with a hammer and everybody was wearing masks in public and shutting down public transportation. It was literally ghost town all over the country.

You always have opportunities in these times and the opportunity to test new technology and find new angles. I hear a lot of foreign clients are trying to produce homemade films where they’re asking the agencies to find ways for people to take selfies. Long term that’s probably not that viable. What we offer foreign clients right now is to shoot films over here for them and they direct from abroad. In the West they’ll come up with new ways of running sets, I think there’ll be quite a bit of remote work that’ll happen way past the pandemic.

To read the full interview, click here (external link).

Super Cool Party: Interview with Designer Francis Lam (aka db-db)

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Last week saw the launch of “Super Cool Party”, a new iOS app from Francis Lam (aka db-db), which has quickly taken over the Instagram and WeChat moments feeds of Shanghai creatives. It’s a “super pixelicious fashion simulation game” with db-db’s trademark style seen in Tofu Go and Nudemen – a combination of funky 8bit graphics, catchy tunes, and cheeky gameplay (which here involves “undressing” characters to unlock their clothing for fun mix-and-match). In the future, it may feature packs of branded fashion content and beyond. Francis’ expansive practice also encompasses his long-time work as Creative Technologist at Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai, and founder of hand-crafted wooden furniture brand OWW. To kick off POV’s new interview series with diverse creatives, Francis graciously agreed to answer our questions.

POV INTERVIEW: FRANCIS LAM, AKA DB-DB

Q: In a nutshell, how would you describe “Super Cool Party”? What’s its connection to shopping and fashion?

A: It’s a fashion-themed 8-bit casual game + social camera app. But what I also want to experiment is to create a new platform for advertising and mobile gaming. In-game advertising has always been a big turn-off for gamers, I really want to build something that can make both marketers and gamers happy.

Q: What inspired the game, especially its visual style, music, and beach setting/”party” concept?

A: Happy, fun and 8bit are always the main themes and styles of my work. It also vaguely linked to my Nudemen Series by the way.


User images from Instagram – add your own with the #supercoolparty and #supercoolstyle tags!

Q: This is your first app since Tofu Go – what have you learned since then, and what different techniques of design, programming, marketing, and distribution were you looking to try in Super Cool Party?

A: I think all my other mobile apps and games are experiments or extensions of my other work. Most of them were finished in a weekend or so. Super Cool Party is a more well-thought and produced project which leverages different digital and social channels. It’s also the first product launched by my new entity db+DB.

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Instagram from @bbfish

Q: Since you left Wieden+Kennedy to work on independent projects, you mentioned that you’re pursuing an interesting workflow of experimenting with various new projects on quick-iteration time-schedule. Can you describe this new project structure you’re exploring?

A: Sure. db+DB is a small team aiming for making tiny digitally-driven products in fast iterations. We have three criteria for our products: 1. It has to be launched in less than 2-3 months. 2. It has to be commercially viable. 3. It has to have a big idea which potentially change the world and make our lives better – maybe for just a little bit.

Q: What do you think is the future of mobile advertising, and how do you think games are important in this space? Many people have talked about the death of Weibo and the rise of Weixin as a space for brands – how are you hoping that an app/game like Super Cool Party can pioneer new directions on those platforms?

A: I think games are one of the biggest digital communities yet to have a working advertising ecosystem. Super Cool Party is an experimental project to try answer the issue.

Q: What inspires you the most right now?

A: Currently, definitely my newborn daughter.

Download Super Cool Party here and check it out!