We’re living in troubled times. Between the international pandemic, financial uncertainty and social unrest, it’s sometimes hard to make sense of the world. Now, Curv, a cinematic self-improvement app due to be launched by Working Voices, aims to help users find a daily dose of security, certainty and personal breathing space. Two years in development, Curv condenses academic research on human behaviour into bitesize daily actions aimed at putting a little peace and precision back into the rigours of daily life.
Curv’s transition from concept to reality has been overseen by Working Voices’s Head of Innovation Karl Brown, who says: “We found that pretty much everyone is interested in personal development, but what they don’t always understand is how to do that, how to develop themselves personally.”
By giving users effective daily actions to do, Curv is intended to help them be true to themselves in any situation, through techniques such as managing anxiety, sustaining confidence and building assertiveness. Curv’s videos, podcasts, stories and ‘learning journeys’ fall under headings such as Boosting your confidence, Owning a first impression, Being more assertive, Letting go of another and Defying your procrastination.
‘A gym for the mind and soul’
There are different learning journeys available in the app, each giving users a daily set of actions aimed at addressing something specific. When they’ve finished one particular journey, they move on to another. Karl describes it as an online gym for mind and soul, accessible to anyone though aimed at helping students and professionals manage the ups and downs of daily life.
Throughout the app’s development Karl was supported by Jake Ogden, who he describes as a gifted filmmaker “with an eye for the craft of telling a story visually. We had a concept, we had ideas and we knew we wanted to be visually creative. But you don’t really know it until you see it – and that’s what Jake brought, a cinematic energy. He’s made a massive difference to this project.” Jake for his part says he immediately saw what Karl was trying to do and could connect with that: “I saw that the aim of this project was to get people comfortable with themselves, bring out the real person in people who might struggle to do that day to day.”
Rooted in science
Working through books and academic papers over a period of months, Karl and Jake boiled them down into relevant facts. They then looked at how best to present these chunks of information in a series of visually engaging 90-second videos, each asking users to carry out a specific action.
As part of this process, Karl and Jake ran workshops to identify the best ways of presenting a message quickly and with impact. Jake explains that they wanted to “basically condense information into something someone my age would want to listen to and watch.” They were keen to keep the authenticity of the original piece of research but at the same time ensure their videos were visually stimulating. Having decided what the films should look like, Karl then turned the facts and actions into scripts that would land the point while keeping people interested.
Seeking to present the information in a way that was engaging and human, Karl decided the best approach was to use actors who could talk naturally to camera. In casting their team, they were looking for five people who could bring an authentic voice to a story.
Searching for authenticity
Finding the right talent was far from easy. After one particular casting day in which they saw 100 people, they chose none of them and started from scratch the next day. Eventually they hired four people. Struggling to find a fifth person, Karl – a former actor – decided to take on the role himself.
Then they got down to filming, which Karl remembers as “a fun and sometimes chaotic process” that evolved as they went along, grabbing shots where they could in a fresh way of filming he describes as “vlog-like”. Jake then edited the films while Karl met app developers and marketing teams. And now, after their months of work Curv is set to be unveiled on June 21, which promises to be a huge moment for both of them.
Karl says the frenzied work over the last year or so has been driven by a key question: “Can we help you be the best version of you?” For Jake, Curv focuses on “day-to-day living and interactions with other people and being true to yourself.” Over the coming weeks and months, day-to-day living looks likely to involve unprecedented challenges. For many people perhaps Curv might just make the difference.