As a Drupal Consultant I regularly explain what Drupal is to business people, and with five million searches per month for "What is Drupal?" according to the Google Keyword Tool, one of Drupal's growing pains as it gains mass adoption is communicating what exactly it is to a new, often non-technical audience.
Many have heard of blogging platform WordPress however don't realise the power and flexibility of Drupal as a fully-featured Content Management System and Web Application Platform which just happens to have blogging functionality as part of its offering.
Much of the existing marketing material available for Drupal is quite technical and often quickly out-of-date, so when I found out at DrupalCon London that I had won one of the first ever Drupal Community Cultivation Grants to help promote the Drupal Discovery Day I'm organising as part of the Brighton Digital Festival I decided to enlist the help of local film makers Larchmonth Films and we made a short film!
We hope this video will help anyone who wants to explain what Drupal is from a fairly non-technical point of view - here's the final cut:
Choosing a supplier
With only three weeks between the announcement of the grant and our Drupal Discovery Day
I decided to post on the Wired Sussex
projects board in order to solicit applications from the local community, however even with over 600 views of the project details after a week I only had a handful of replies and all were simply offering their services as leaflet designers. Perhaps it was the way I wrote the project brief but I was hoping for more 'out-of-the-box' thinking as all I had thought of at the time was creating a leaflet too and was looking for more of a Purple Cow
Luckily my local friend and fellow Drupal developer Steve Liddell
contacted me and suggested creating a video as the best use of the budget - having recently bought a video camera I kicked myself as it was obvious that would be the best option! Unfortunately Steve was too busy to help at the time however I bumped into Philip Berman from Larchmonth Films
at an event at The Lighthouse
, where we are holding our Drupal Discovery Day
, and he said he had a few days free to help out so I happily said yes. That was on the Friday a week after DrupalCon had finished and after a couple of chats over the weekend we started to film on the Monday.
Deciding on the content
Philip and I discussed a couple of ideas with regards to the content of the film - the original concept was that we were going to have people asking questions on the phone about functionality they needed and replies were "Drupal can do this". I felt this would be a bit too cheesey and potentially hard to create in the time we had. I was keen especially after Drupal founder Dries' the State of Drupal 2011 DrupalCon London Keynote
to target the message that Drupal's really great at replacing legacy systems and cutting IT costs.
Dries noted in his presentation that we shouldn't really be focusing on comparing to WordPress as we are both great open source projects - the real competition is the proprietary legacy systems many organisations have, and the fact that Drupal is the first system which can handle sites both small and large whereas previously you would use different products for small sites than you would for large ones. I was also keen to focus on the community angle, showing what we are building here in Brighton on the South coast of the UK.
Choosing the film stars
I felt these three people showed Drupal from three different views which would appeal to our audience, and luckily they all agreed to help out and be filmed!
I think Larchmont Films have managed to capture the spirit of the Drupal community and amazed at what they have created in such a short time - they certainly went out of their way and kindly did about twice the amount they would usually do for the budget we had available. Most was filmed during our twice-monthly Brighton Area Drupal Association meetup at our local tech community coworking space The Skiff; some at the offices of White Hat Media and the rest apparently around Larchmont Films Philip Berman's neighbour's house!
We formalised the plan of action before our Drupal meeting and Philip along with the cameraman filmed Jack's interview whilst we waited for other members to turn up. Once the meeting started Kevin took the lead and we chose a few key words we were going to focus our discussions that night on - flexibiltiy, maturity, and so on. It was strange to have a camera crew there but we actually had a fantastic meeting as we wouldn't have normally discussed these subjects in such a general fashion, and after a while I almost forgot the film crew were there until they said "OK stop - repeat that" and suddenly I remembered we were in the making of a film! After our meeting Phil interviewed Guy and we went off down the pub as we always do to talk more Drupal.
I videod the evening and made a little teaser movie which you can view here - just as a little fun taster for those who had seen what we were up to and were hungry for more insight. Unfortunately I deleted the rest of the 'making of' film, so that will never be shown - fortunate some might say! The next day Philip went to Kevin's offices and interviewed him along with taking some great shots of the office and their other Drupal developers.
All then went quiet for a couple of days whilst Philip worked with local video editor Lucy Newman who did a marvellous job of cutting down many hours of video into our lovely three minute short film. I had a quick look on the Thursday night, and after a couple of last-minute fixes we released the film online on the Friday, just four days after we started filming.
Since we released the film I've been busy promoting it through our Brighton Area Drupal Association
Twitter account, and helped by many re-tweets including one from Drupal founder Dries
we've had over 1,000 views in the first five days alone which is awesome! I also took part in Barcamp Brighton
at the weekend and did a session to a packed room on the Saturday entitled "Free Software gave me money and I spent it on making a short film" which seemed to go down well, and I also played it a number of times including during my second session on Sunday "10 Reasons Drupal Sucks and Why You Shouldn't Use It", which will no doubt be one of my next blog posts!
Once our Drupal Discovery Day
is over we'll be uploading a version of the film without our event promoting card on the end so anyone else can use it for their own needs.
Of course none of this would have happened without: The Drupal Association
and those who pay their membership so we can do projects like this; Larchmonth Films
who have really gone out of their way to help us and created a timeless film; Guy, Kevin, and Jack for doing the interviews and the rest of our group who joined in the fun too. Last but not least of course thanks go to the Drupal community at large and Drupal founder Dries, both of whom without them we wouldn't be doing any of this!
We hope you like our little film, and do please spread the word where you can!