For Gwynedd Mercy University in suburban Philadelphia, this ability to work remotely is key to the success of their projects. They have partnered with Synergist, a marketing company with headquarters in the Midwest, and had just wrapped up work on their 2018-2019 school year marketing campaign.
The print, radio, and TV commercial spots had been scripted, and what could be published, was. However, they needed someone to take the script they had come up with and run with it. Synergist reached out to us after an extensive search for a local organization close enough to the University to meet when needed, but with the capacity to do most of the work remotely.
We took the drafted script in the pre-production phase, and converted it into a table-based storyboard. This allowed us to lay out the shot list – our action items – and to figure out the duration that each shot needed to be. We also covered logistics, super-overlay, and copy.
We were able to grab stock content from online, gathered the photos we took from our sight scout, inserting them into the storyboard so that we could really plan out our shoot.
According to the budget, we only had one day to capture all the content we needed for three different videos, which were later edited down into five shorter social media cuts. Being able to do that requires us to be nimble on set, which makes it all the more important to have a very well-defined plan and to know the content you want to get before you begin shooting.
One thing that wasn’t included was a talent budget. This is very unique for a project like this, and definitely presented a challenge on set, since we only had one day to film. The plus side was that there were plenty of students and faculty members willing to talk about how much they love Gwynedd Mercy University. The down side meant that we had to send a mass email out asking for volunteers, with a brief outline of how they should dress and prepare. This meant that many volunteers showed up in t-shirts with logos that we could not share, as there was no one working in wardrobe to help choose the proper attire for our volunteers.
The areas we were filming in were also “live sets”. If we were filming in a classroom, and a group of nursing students happened to have chosen that room to eat their lunch and discuss their notes, there was nothing we could do about it. This forced us to think quickly and stay on our toes, working around the given setup with the people that we had.
Another challenge was coming up with a way to present the diversity that Gwynedd Mercy fosters with such a tight timeframe to figure everything out and get our footage recorded. Sometimes it was as simple as happening upon a classroom full of students, but other times it required a lot of staging shots. This was key in putting our videos together, and a true reflection of why it’s important to collaborate closely with our clients.
Our top priority is to understand the goals of our clients and the messages they want to convey. Having directors who are kind and empathetic allows for them to easily navigate situations with people that aren’t necessarily camera-ready, while at the same time understanding the goals of the project and the need to reach those ends.
The directors in charge of Gwynedd Mercy University’s video were confident and assertive enough to direct a group of volunteers who have never been in this situation before. This made for a really well-balanced approach and, ultimately, an elevated experience, as we obtained heartfelt interviews that were unscripted and totally natural.
It was truly a pleasure working with Synergist and Gwynedd Mercy University. We had a blast bringing the visions of two organizations from different parts of the country, together!