Give Her A Break

Users viewed our website and then logged into ABC through an iFrame. Firebase real-time database was used for data handling. When the user's browser detected a change to the database, it would update to display either the live stream ABC feed or a YouTube video of a female-directed film.

- Mojo Supermarket Team

Can you briefly describe your project and the concept behind it?

In all 92 years of the Academy Awards, only five women have been nominated for Best Director, and only one has ever won. This year, despite a record number of critically-acclaimed female-directed films, no women were nominated for best director...again. So instead of letting another year go by without women, we hacked the biggest award show in Hollywood.

Talk about your initial prototypes. How did those ideas change throughout design and execution?

With just a week to pull off the technical execution of the project and only one technical resource for development, we jumped right in to building the final product and adapted it during the process. When we hit roadblocks, we had to try out different solutions on the fly. On the night of the activation, anticipating record streaming numbers, ABC had made slight modifications to their player platform. By the time we discovered this, we had less than an hour to make the updates to our design in order to accommodate—it was down to the wire. We pushed the final, revised build online just minutes before going live.

What breakthrough or “a-ha” moment did you experience when concepting or executing this project?

While concepting, our “aha” moment was when we realized that we didn’t need to get female filmmakers into the Oscars show itself—we could get them into the commercial breaks and still get millions of eyes on them, making them part of the broadcast. During execution, our “aha” moment was when we figured out that we could hack the live stream by simply “changing the channel” of the stream to show female-directed films during the breaks, then “changing the channel” back to the Oscars once the break was over. This was huge, as it didn’t just help us make the platform, but it also made the whole thing legal.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

We wanted to get female filmmakers into the Oscars. Since the official broadcast wouldn’t allow it, we found a loophole that we could manipulate: the commercial breaks. For the technical approach, we wanted to make the user experience as seamless as possible. Users log-in to ABC and stream the Oscars like they normally would. But as they stream, our technology acts like a channel switcher. It iFrames your cable broadcast, and during the ads, it pulls trailers of female directed films from the internet. When the show comes back, we seamlessly switch back to the award show. This approach was unlike anything we’ve done before, simply because GiveHerABreak was unlike anything we've done before.

What web technologies, tools, or resources did you use to develop this?

The HTML, CSS, JavaScript code was written using Adobe Brackets. The project lived in an S3 bucket via Amazon Web Services, using CloudFront for delivery. Users viewed our website and then logged into ABC through an iFrame. Firebase real-time database was used for data handling. When the user's browser detected a change to the database, it would update to display either the live stream ABC feed or a YouTube video of a female-directed film. A custom admin tool was built for quick “channel switching” and allowed up-to-the-second syncing via Firebase, so if a user logged in mid-YouTube video, they would immediately be synced with the live Oscars broadcast that everyone else was watching.

How did the final product defy your expectations?

Our reach went beyond what any of us had planned for, raising over a million in free media for female filmmakers and starting a worldwide conversation that went viral--spanning all the way to the red carpet, where Natalie Portman’s Dior gown, embroidered with all the snubbed female-directors names, shared across social with #GiveHerABreak.

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