the story of “The Online Park” production

By December 23, 2021 No Comments

Cyberbullying, sexual aggression, explicit content, all dangers our youngsters face in the online environment are first of all a concern for the parents. When teenagers face problems in the digital space, most of the time people do not know how to deal with them, let alone solve the problem. Telekom Romania developed their app Kaspersky Safe Kids Premium to offer a safer experience for the minor users of the internet. It is a filter of the online content, a time limit for your kid’s exposure, a method to localize the device, and a monitoring tool for the calls and texts, and for Saga Film, a unique project.

To directly reach the target audience for this app, the parents, Telekom developed a social experiment in a playground in Bucharest, clearly pointing out some of the ways children are vulnerable in the online setup. We were challenged to take on the task of producing this project and this article is going to explore the exceptional production that took place with this project. 

Going back to 2020, the production time of the Telekom Online Park shooting was exactly the days before the national lockdown took place in the Covid-19 outbreak circumstances. Being on the edge of the unknown meant that the production design and pre-production were developed in non-pandemic conditions. This layer added a considerable difficulty of adapting to measures imposed overnight by the government, right in production time. It was concerning to realize that as the shooting was approaching, the schools were closing. To be specific, on March 11th the Educational Ministry of Romania announced the pause of in-person classes, and we had our shooting planned on the 13th. 

Our Italian director, Giovanni Fantoni Modena’s arrival was right the day before his country’s isolation announcement. Realizing that his airport in Milano closed, at his return, he was forced to fly to another border country and then continue the journey by train to arrive in Italy. Looking back at those circumstances, we are shocked to realize that we were among the first production houses that were forced to adapt to these conditions. 

In addition to the travel restrictions, we faced a sanitary crisis where hygiene products were in shortage and we were trying our best to find solutions to avoid the spread of the virus even before the government released the safety measures. We decided to physically distance ourselves on the set and search for ways to be less exposed to the virus.

Vlad Semenescu and Ionuț Penzeș, the production team was able to transcend a non-pandemic designed production into a foolproof project that was successful despite unprecedented conditions. A plausible fact is having to purchase overpriced safety equipment like the disinfectant and facemasks which at the time were not found in the pharmacy or stores.

The truth is that we expected a large audience for the amusement park but the Corona Virus outbreak was significantly starting to cause a different social behaviour. Compared to the average number of people, we encountered far less and we had to make it seem like the atmosphere was as normal as possible. In the end, we were lucky to pull through! Another solution we adopted was establishing tents and a basecamp for our team crew, where physical distancing was mandatory. As part of the setup we integrated food trucks with hot-dogs, and tacos that were not actually available in the park.

Now when we look back on this unique project, we see it as a team achievement that has a backstory worth telling even if time has passed by. This year we kept on being reminded of it through the awards this commercial has received. After winning a Bronze at Cannes Lions earlier this year, it was recently awarded two medals at Eurobest 2021, and this December also a medal at the Effie Awards Europe.