Creative Director Jonathan Buckels has been with battleROYAL ever since we started. Creating human moments was and remains to be an essential part of his work. Given his long-term outlook he has on the company’s life and the ongoing changes of our world, we spoke to him about his creative process, how it was affected by the pandemic, and his vision for the future.
battleROYAL: How would you describe your role at bR before 2020?
Jon: My role was transforming clients’ desired message into an interesting and entertaining experience. What I care about is to tell stories in an approachable way, stories that people can connect and relate to. Even when I was still in modern dance, that was always my goal. To move people. And that’s how I understand immersion: I want to draw people in with my work.
battleROYAL: Has anything changed since the Covid-19 pandemic? If so, what is your role now?
Jon: By moving to digital, our work has to compensate, adapt, and find new ways to capture the communal ritual of live events in the new isolated but still connected landscape. To watch and learn and see how storytelling can be supported rather than hindered due to the new normal. In practice that means using interactive techniques and applying them to the digital world.
battleROYAL: How would you describe this transition in terms of how you personally experienced it?
Jon: Like listening for a pin drop in a thunderstorm. Digital events can’t rely on participants being caught up in the traditional excitement of thousands of people in a communal space building to a common experience. And I can’t rely on certain old tricks to drive an event. I had to rediscover the essence of a participant‘s journey. Remember what can excite and thrill people within a journey, which holds true of physical or virtual.
battleROYAL: And what is that essence?
Jon: Human connection: to feel like you are part of something larger. We need to use digital to create effects that at least emulate that sensation by triggering emotions which everyone can relate to and make them feel human.
battleROYAL: What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know within this process? And how has your creative process evolved this year?
Jon: I learned that moment of unity can still be made across continents. It‘s fascinating when you can create something — an event that is attended all across the globe at the same time, and excites people similarly.
For my process, the mixed blessing of the luxury of time meant that I could delve into details and new techniques, but occasionally that could also feel like falling into a rabbit hole. I needed to find a focus to cling onto to avoid drowning in new possibilities. It‘s important to always keep the story and the audience in mind, and not just explore new means of story telling for the sake of new means.
battleROYAL: Where do you think bR is headed?
Jon: Some place where the roles of individual virtual experiences can be melded with the grandeur of communal spectaculars. 😉
battleROYAL: What would you tell your former self pre 2020?
Jon: Go out and see as much as you can while you can.