Unveiling Legends: Crafting the Extraordinary Life of Wayne Harris


I distinctly remember the kickoff meeting we had for this project. John, Luke and I were there explaining our usual approach for the Silver Medal Award video. It’s typically a docustyle piece that focuses on the recipient's life story. It’s told through interviews of the subject as well as their friends and family. The idea is to give a genuine, personal look into the lives of those we're honoring. 

Wayne was worried about this. He doubted his life was interesting enough to sustain such a piece, fearing it was too mundane. The idea of people being bored out of their minds, forced to watch a video about the life and times of an old ad man like himself, didn’t sit well with him. John reassured him that he was sure this wouldn’t be the case.

“Do you have any stories you’d like us to highlight?” John said. “Something that you’re particularly proud or passionate about?” 

“Oh, I don’t know…” Wayne mused. “There was that time my daughter had the idea to put beanie babies in happy meals… and I was in the position to make that happen.”

“Ummm, what?” I said. 

“Oh and there was another time where I signed Michael Jordan as a spokesperson for McDonald’s…”

This sort of conversation continued for a while… Wayne kept sharing these remarkable stories, told in a very humble and understated way, as if he was telling us what he had for breakfast that morning. (Later, as I interviewed some of the people in Wayne's inner circle, I realized that this was a pretty typical Wayne interaction.)

The call ended, and we all agreed that based on the stories Wayne told us that this video would most definitely not be boring. 

Being an editor, the phrase “shoot for the edit” has always resonated with me. I’m always thinking about the edit first when I’m producing something, and for this project that meant two things.

  1. Crafting interview question with story structure in mind
    • Although all video projects are different, the way I structure every story is almost always the same. (Hook, Context, Problem, Solution, CTA)
    • When I’m writing interview questions, I write them with these story beats in mind. This is a good way to ensure(for the most part) that you have all the puzzle pieces you need to craft a complete and engaging story. 
  1. Listen for broll/music ideas in your subject’s answers
    • In this case, I had a lot to work with. Since the stories mentioned had such notoriety AND since we were only showing this piece at an event, I had a lot of flexibility with the broll I could pull. Below are a few examples worth noting.
      1. Michael Jordan
        • From the moment I heard this story, I knew this had to be the video’s opening hook. This meant I could open with old Jordan footage, the Chicago Bulls theme and of course a clip from Space Jam. 
      2. The Beatles
        • Almost every one of our interview subjects mentioned Wayne’s passion for music and in particular Wayne himself mentioned the lyric “woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head”. Wayne’s company is also called “6am Marketing” so the song, in combination with this comment, as Wayne describes his morning routine was a lightbulb moment for me and a joy to cut as a Beatles fan myself. 
      3. Peter Pan
        • As the interview day went on, an attribute of Wayne’s that kept coming up was his zeal for life and his unwillingness to grow old. I thought this was an inspiring sentiment that ended up being the through line of the piece. It also gave me a chance to use clips from both Disney’s Peter Pan and one of my personal favorite incarnations of the classic story, Hook. 

Although we only did one day of interviews, by the end I felt like I knew Wayne quite well, and I could then use what I knew to inform the edit and create a final product that was uniquely Wayne. 

That’s what I love about the industry we work in. No matter what the project is, you often find yourself learning about something you never would have in your day-to-day life. Whether it’s the answer to questions like “Why was Michael Jordan in all those McDonald’s commercials?” or “How did Beanie Babies get into happy meals?” it’s never boring(in fact it’s award-winning) and in this case the answer to both questions is Wayne Harris. 



This entry was posted in Video, storytelling, editing