locke - concrete storytelling

Tomorrow sees the UK release of Locke, a film by Steven Knight starring Tom Hardy in the lead role. A couple of us at Edison Red were fortunate enough to attend an advance screening in London and we urge everyone to see the film during its run on the big screen.

Knowing little about the plot beforehand (posters plastered throughout underground stations prominently use the misleading critic’s quote ‘one of the most nail-biting thrillers of the year’) we were expecting something akin to the classic Bullitt or perhaps Nicolas Refn’s Drive. What we actually experienced was a simple, atmospheric and well told story - it reminded me particularly of the 1968 film The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster, which also comes highly recommended.

We follow Hardy’s character, a construction manager called Ivan Locke, on an 85 minute drive from Birmingham to London. On paper I suspect the synopsis - one man driving a BMW along a generic stretch of motorway, desperately trying to organise the concrete in a building project via the phone - doesn’t sound like the most compelling tale. Indeed with only the odd cut away to a tyre, windshield or underpass to break up the action you could argue that this is not what cinema was designed for. However the power of story bleeds through every frame and kept us not only engaged but genuinely on the edge of our seats by the final third, as the film reaches its conclusion.

Whilst Locke is the only character we physically see throughout, it’s the various phone calls he makes and receives during his journey on his car speakerphone that subtly weave in his story. Through very simple exchanges we learn about his past, his career status, his personal life and ultimately how the 120 mile journey will signal the most significant turning point in his life.

Our favourite scene is where Locke succinctly explains to a colleague the importance of the first concrete pour in a construction project. He personifies the concrete itself and the major role its character plays in order for the completed building to triumphantly ‘steal the sky’ and ‘cast a shadow a mile long’. Suddenly we too appreciate the importance of ‘pure’ concrete, and heed the warning he gives us about ‘small cracks’. His message is clear, passionate and enveloping.

Turning points, personal disclosure and storytelling are three key tenets we invariably focus on throughout all the presentation work we undertake. As human beings we cannot help but respond to and be captivated by well structured and passionately told stories – no matter the subject. Combining these with choice moments of disclosure will elevate a presentation of any format. Locke succeeds on this score so well that I promise you by the end of the film you’ll feel genuinely enthralled by the logistics of a major concrete pour.

Anyone can employ the same techniques used in the film to get their core message across in 30 seconds and leave their audience wanting to know more. I never thought I’d be Googling ‘C6 Concrete’ – but that’s the first thing I did when the credits rolled! Beyond watching TED Talks or reading about Steve Jobs, inspiration for your next presentation can be found in just about every medium – something we always remind ourselves of at Edison Red as we evolve our training.

Image credit: Flickr


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