Discord – The Movie stars a stop-motion Danny DeVito and sock puppets eating pizza

The Imagine A Place campaign asked Discord users to explain what the messaging platform means to them, ranging in a variety of creative responses that could only be represented in a film made through equally creative means.

28 July 2021


Inviting its community members to explain what the digital platform means to them, Discord, the online messaging service, has collaborated with agency AKQA and Riff Raff films to showcase various creative mediums representing just a taste of the diversity of its communities. This range spans medieval tavern-goers in stop-motion animation from Radiohead collaborator Chris Hopewell – also of that little tear-jerking John Lewis ad – to sock puppets jovially (and somewhat disconcertingly) eating spaghetti and pizza. Danny DeVito and Awkwafina walk around the Matrix-esque digital realm of Discord discovering all the various communities that exist, such as gamers, quirky message boards and people simply with a passion to share.

Finn Keenan, through Amsterdam-based agency AKQA, directed the five-minute long mini epic. As quotes from users came flooding in as a response to the question of how to describe Discord to non-users, Keenan had the job of visualising them – which materialised as Danny DeVito eating a sandwich, dressed in combat gear and being showered in eggs.

The trippy style of the video came from Keenan’s desire to communicate how vague a description of Discord can be and the variety of responses the creative team received, he tells It's Nice That. A Dungeons and Dragons response, for example, inspired the organic nature of the tavern scene, whilst the high-end computer graphics of the transit hall wherein DeVito and Awkwafina land themselves was inspired by the gaming community. Sock puppets aimed to inject charm and the accessible nature of certain groups in Discord. And retro-pop animation, which Keenan claims “toes the line between cheesy silliness and an overly-friendly trippy aesthetic”, aimed to give the film the joy within the vagueness about what Discord is for its users.


Finn Keenan: Discord – The Movie (Copyright © Discord, 2021)

Taking influence from actual Discord users, says Keenan, helped the creative team to represent the community honestly. When Keenan saw how mixed the media was on Discord, he wanted to celebrate that difference with the mixture of styles the film showcases. “All the work is different enough to not be repetitive”, he says, “so although it’s a long video, it hopefully doesn't drag as it all feels different aesthetically”. The director claims this also meant the creative process became a passion project for everyone involved. Despite a rapid turnaround time, all team members, Keenan gleams, gave “150 per cent” and lent much more of their time than Keenan had anticipated.

The team actually used Discord to communicate their collective vision. With everyone being part of the conversation at all points online – something that wouldn't have been possible five or ten years ago, Keenan highlights – the process was made much simpler and helped creative juices flow between conversations.

“Discord can be such a complicated thing to explain”, says the director. “So we wanted to make sure we represented a core amount and made something where everyone would want to find out more about the platform – you get a creative feeling at the end”. The Imagine A Place campaign is rolling out now.

GalleryFinn Keenan, Riff Raff and AKQA: Discord – The Movie (Copyright © Discord, 2021)

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Finn Keenan: Discord – The Movie (Copyright © Discord, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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