Creative in association withGear Seven
DHL and The BBC Tell the Story of the Konny Baby Carrier in Spot from Armoury
Production Company
London, UK
Director Rollo Hollins takes us behind the scenes with Erin Lim and her husband Kim Dong-Hyun

Erin Lim and her husband Kim Dong-Hyun (aka ‘Erin and Donghyun’) had a baby boy a few years ago. Erin said that in her country of Korea, the mother is expected to quit her job and take care of her baby. Erin says, “if a mother works, people say it’s greed.” 

Carrying her baby around proved to be quite a challenge. Within weeks she was suffering from unbearable neck pain. "Maybe what I need," she thought, "may be something that all mothers need." Erin planned, sewed, stitched, seamed, hemmed, and created samples. "I developed these fabrics for two years," she says. Her child was her first sample tester, and she was her own client.

Eventually, Erin became the CEO of her own baby carrier company, delivering the product she named 'Konny'. Her husband Donghyun came on board as a business partner. The rest, as they say, is history. In two years, Konny sales reached over 250,000 customers in 70 countries.   

Producer James McLaughlin got to hear about Konny while working with Armoury production company and the BBC to find stories for a series of three films for the express mail service company, DHL. Stories that, Mclaughlin says, “would inspire, give hope, be inclusive and seek to change.” 

Each of the 1,614,000,000 parcels DHL delivers each year “has a story at either end, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the vast to the small and from the frivolous to the necessary,” Mclaughlin says. Some of the stories obtained from the BBC “stood out immediately, and some we needed to dig deep and reach far-off parts of the world. You must dig deep to find gold.” Erin and Donghyun’s baby carrier company is one such gold nugget. 

“Erin and Donghyun just had so much chemistry and love on screen. They are clearly so happy together and such a great family unit. Erin's incredible success in the child carrier arena is born from her own pain and difficulty carrying her kid.” Erin’s determination to use her experience to help other parents has brought tremendous results. Being a successful CEO and a mother and coming from a position of honesty and passion is so hugely inspiring on a human level.”

Mclaughlin commends business owners whose stories appear in the series. “In each instance, we shot in people’s homes and their businesses so as not to separate the work and personal elements. They were super open and amenable from square one.”

Director Rollo Hollins and his team were looking for stories to fit the brand. However, “it all fell into place on our very first call with Erin and Dongyung.” What stood out for the team was “a wife and husband team who were so open and frank and honest about their experiences. It felt impossible not to centre the film around them.”

The team's creative challenge was that Erin and her team had already produced a couple of great films about their journey, says Hollins. “We knew we had to do something different - we had to get under the skin of this business and family unit. We planned to fly to South Korea with a small team to get a more personal take on their journey.” Sadly, Covid threw all plans into a tailspin; visas were withheld, and the trip to Korea was cancelled. "Very luckily," says Hollins, it was possible to get that same personal connection. “We found an incredible South Korean DOP named Jin Kim who has an incredible cinematic eye but shoots very low profile.” 

The film was shot with Hollins directing the Korean crew remotely. “The crew was tight and communicative and understood the goal of getting something more than branded content, something more personal,” says Hollins, who communicated with Erin directly during filming. "As she spoke, our local assistant was very roughly live-translating, so I could respond live, comment, react, etc. Erin felt we were having a real conversation.” 

The series uses a branded docu-style format. Hollins says he would usually look for space “to really find a good story.” While this is branded content, he says, all involved “also really pushed for integrity in the storytelling. Which is always great from the client-side.” Hollins admits that he likes the challenge posed by projects facing a language barrier. 

“I kind of love the barrier. I’m really used to it now. I shoot predominantly abroad and have an embarrassing lack of other languages, so there is usually a 'barrier,' but it's kind of great. It breaks everything down to basic wants and needs and really makes conversations focused.” Then, he says, subtlety starts to come out as one gets to know the talent and crew more personally.

The same applies, he feels, to shooting cross-cultural. “That mix, that shakeup, that clash, it's what breeds new ideas and deeper understanding of one's own life. Deep down, we are all very similar, and I’ve found forcing a clash of cultures in a shoot really helps to break down barriers and open to more honest conversations.”

The last thought is from James Mclaughlin, who felt that communication is critical when following a story. "Developing relationships, being hugely respectful of everyone, and ensuring everything is considered. Being respectful of each culture, each language, people's time, their spaces, and their homes. It’s the most important part of turning up to film anywhere for me.”

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