Microsoft: It's Not About Technology. It's About People

Creating a compelling three-part documentary series from a complex, ongoing human interest story

Overview

History of the Project

Belief Agency is proud to announce the launch of a three-part documentary series produced for Microsoft about 21-year-old Easton LaChappelle, a young engineer 3D printing fully-functioning robotic arms, and Momo, the 9-year-old girl who received Easton’s first successful device.

At 14, Easton made his first robotic hand out of LEGOs, fishing wire, and electrical tubing. But it was a chance meeting with a little girl in need of a prosthetic that propelled his hobby into a full-fledged mission: to create affordable prosthetics on a global scale. Easton first garnered attention in 2013 when then President Obama shook hands with Easton’s first prototype at the White House Science Fair.

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“If you go into this just thinking about the technology, you’re going to miss it. It’s not about the technology; it’s about the people behind it.”
—Easton LaChappelle

Easton’s mission evolved as he dedicated himself to creating a prosthetic arm for Momo that could serve as a model for thousands of other people who could not afford to buy a new one each year. Just as Easton was running out of resources and money, Microsoft learned about his project (and that he was using Microsoft products like a Surface and an Xbox Kinect sensor to create 3D scans of residual limbs). Microsoft brought Easton to Seattle to work in Building 87—their guarded and highly confidential prototyping lab—while providing him with laptops, computers, and other technology. Lead Microsoft industrial designers dropped everything to become involved in the project, working long nights to support the project.

Easton managed to pull it off with the help of the Microsoft team; he completed Momo’s prosthetic arm just in time for their meeting in Seattle. Momo was able to draw with her new arm within hours of receiving the prosthetic, which she continues to use to this day.

How Belief Agency Was Involved

Microsoft approached Belief Agency with the ask to craft a compelling and authentic story around Easton’s journey to complete the prosthetic for Momo. Our proposal was set in Easton’s own voice: “It’s not about the technology; it’s about the people behind it,” and we articulated an approach which dovetailed with Easton’s vision that affordable prosthetics will change the world.

After we joined the project, we visited Easton’s cramped studio in Durango, Colorado to begin filming his story, unaware of how big this story would soon become. We captured Easton’s development of the arm, as well as personal glimpses into his passion for prosthetics, and how these pieces of technology could ultimately improve countless lives.

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To tackle this personal story surrounded by complexity and innovative technology, we implemented storytelling fundamentals to tell three, five-minute chapters. Each episode illuminates different aspects of Easton and Momo’s journey, beginning with Easton, now 21 years old and seven years into his project.

Over the span seven months and after burning through several terabytes of footage, the challenge in front of us was to focus on keeping the main through line of the story consistent. Our scripting, filming, and editing processes focused on the most relevant portions of our footage to tell a succinct and cohesive story. We often made the difficult decision to cut interesting footage that wasn’t servicing the focus of each episode. As a result, these three chapters each tell a definable story, framed within a clear theme:

  • Episode 1: It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people behind it.

  • Episode 2: It’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

  • Episode 3: If you do good things, good people will help you.

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Helped by a PR campaign we launched, Easton’s story has gone viral. Within 24 hours of being posted on Mashable.com and Mashable’s Facebook page, Easton’s video received 1,200,000 views, 25,000 reactions, 20,000 shares, and 600 comments. Tony Robbins shared the Mashable link with his Facebook community, resulting in over 180,000 views, 4,000 reactions, and 850 shares within the first day. The release of Easton’s story was immediately followed by coverage elsewhere, including features in HuffPost UK, Digital Trends, and NowThis.

Watch our Documentary Series Produced for Microsoft

[Episode 1] Meet Easton: the young engineer making his mark in the world of robotic limbs

[Episode 2] Meet Momo: Easton LaChappelle's inspiration

[Episode 3] Easton and Momo meet: the moment they’ve both been working towards

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Easton’s Story Continues

At least 30 million people worldwide are in need of a prosthetic device, and the average cost of a fully-functioning prosthesis is more than $100,000.

Today, Easton is leveraging technology to produce fully-functioning prosthetics, and making the technology accessible and affordable to those who need it most. Momo’s arm is just the beginning: Easton has published open-source prosthetic designs that anyone can download and 3D print—even those with limited resources. Belief Agency is proud to call Easton a friend, and we’re honored by the privilege of telling his story. Easton’s journey stands as a testament to his belief that amazing, world-changing things can happen when you focus on people.

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Scope

  • Copywriting
  • Creative Direction
  • Documentary Film
  • Storytelling
  • Strategy