Every January, Dropbox shows up at the Sundance Film Festival to support and celebrate the work of great filmmakers. This year, we ventured beyond collectible swag and created a full-length book that covers how digital tools like Dropbox are changing the way filmmakers create.
The book design uses typography to make the simple digital elements of collaboration—such as file type, folder structure, commenting, sharing—more visible and relatable.
Instead of attempting to reduce the process to only the tools, our design strategy acknowledged the complexity and chaos of the process while explaining the little ways in which a good tool can save the day.
The book also includes a parallel narrative at the beginning of each chapter, where we nod to the weird but wonderful moments in filmmaking (hence the title: & other film collaboration stories). The book was produced in offset in a single metallic ink on black and blue paper with the help of Oscar Printing in San Francisco.
The project debrief: a conversation
LaDonna: I don’t even remember how we came up with the idea for doing the book. Do you remember?
Pedro: Yes! We wanted to create a printed piece—we knew we wanted to give something to these filmmakers to take away and learn more about Dropbox. We did an extensive exploration and suggested a lot of different formats for this piece. In the end, we wanted to produce something elevated, and a book seemed like the best approach. It also offered a variety of possibilities in terms of finish and quality.
LaDonna: This was the first time we really leaned in to talking a lot about product at Sundance—explaining how filmmaking crews could work collaboratively in Paper, in addition to easily sharing music files, photos, film clips, costume sketches, and the like. In the past, we’ve done more aspirational campaigns. This year, we were trying to create something that would allow for more detail.
Pedro: Exactly. We wanted to try to communicate more about the product beyond celebrating filmmaking and filmmakers, which is what we had traditionally done.
The book format was a really unique opportunity to tell a more developed and complete story with design and copy. We were able to dig deep into how teams can use file sharing and calendar planning and collaborative digital documents to stay connected and organized and productive.
LaDonna: But it was hard to get started, honestly, until [Brand Studio associate creative director Michael] Jeter came up with an outline for book chapters. He based the chapters on stages of movie production, breaking it down by development, pre-production, production, post, and distribution.
Pedro: Relating Dropbox to the filmmaking process seemed like a good structure for communicating how Dropbox helps filmmakers at each step along the way.
LaDonna: It was. As soon as I saw the outline, I could start to picture how we would do this. But the ad that you had mocked up also really helped me get started—the one that was a text from a director who had endless ideas about an alarm clock prop. Those two pieces—the outline and your ad—were where the content really began to take shape.
Speaking of that original ad mockup, where did that idea come from?
Pedro: I have a film director friend who actually sends text messages like that. He likes to organize all kinds of games, or sometimes he’ll shoot a short film and he’ll want his friends to be in it. He writes these long messages, with no stops.
I was trying to visualize how someone who is insanely busy would communicate as they’re trying to get their vision across. So maybe subconsciously this idea for a never-ending sentence came from my friend, from texts that I’ve gotten from him.