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Competing for Their Dreams - A Documentary Production

Updated: May 1

The Background

Many young people may not exceed academically, but find themselves more passionate and capable working with their hands.

To promote, train and nurture vocational skills in the world's young people, WorldSkills was set up.

Every two years, WorldSkills International holds the world championships of vocational skills, each time in a different country.

The competition is tough, with the world's top tradespeople, engineers, artists and more competing for gold, recognition, and to ultimately further their careers.

WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 award ceremony

The Shoot

Pre-Production: As this documentary was earmarked to be the showcase film for the entire WorldSkills 2017 Abu Dhabi event, several creative discussions around the style and format took place between the leadership at WorldSkills International and our Creative Director at Mandolin Media, Paul.

It was decided that a human-interest driven documentary style, focusing on a small group of competitors, would be the best way to tell the story of the competition.

Telling the story of the competition through the experiences of the participants was definitely our preferred approach, and was championed by the head of marketing and comms at WorldSkills International, Crispin.

Our Creative Director setting up a video portrait

Production: The shoot took part over the four days of competition, and we had limited time to figure out how to film the documentary and which competitors to include.

Paul wanted to represent a diverse range of cultures and competition skills in the film, which is why he chose the UAE (host country of the competition), South Korea, Colombia and Mongolia.

Contacting the teams wasn't easy, and we had to wait until they had landed in Abu Dhabi before being able to get in touch. All of the teams agreed to take part, as long as it didn't effect them competing, which was great news for us.

The storyboard was very rough, and the approach was to capture the key moments of the competition over the four days, and to hear the stories of the competitors in their own words. We wanted to know what drove them to compete and how being a part of WorldSkills is benefiting their lives.

The interviews took place throughout the competition, whenever the competitors had time with Farhad Katrahmani - a freelancer who was hired by our client - recording the audio with our Creative Director Paul lighting and shooting the interview and asking the interview questions.

The interpreters from each team kindly agreed to sit down with Paul at the end of each competition day and help translate the interviews so Paul could transcribe them.

The b-roll involved identifying key moments of the competition that would be interesting to film. The competition area was huge so we definitely got some steps in! We filmed in an unobtrusive manner, so as not to disturb the competitors, which made for some truly candid shots. We were also able to direct a few shots after the competition (of the UAE competitor) to help get some cinematic b roll.

Post production: The editing took around two weeks to complete, as there was a lot of footage to organise, plus the translated interviews, subtitles, colour grading and reviews. The process went smoothly and WorldSkills International said it was the best piece of visual storytelling that came out of the competition! :)

The finished documentary:

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