Sylvanian Families - Stella Catwalk
Being a videographer is one of the best jobs in the world (in my biased opinion). No day is the same, no client is the same - every job is different. The reason I've decided to document some of the jobs I have had over the last couple of years is to clear up and shed some light on what the job entails, the endless bumps in the road that are endured and sometimes enjoyed (I like a challenge!) and why, when asked for set prices, I struggle to give them. If you choose to invest in videography to improve your marketing campaigns (which you should be doing in 2018!), the path we go down together isn't going to work for everyone. The style, pace, colouring, composition, structure and overall message used to market a big manufacturing business to gain investors isn't going to match the video created for a cute high street shop selling stuffed toys to children. In the same way, even if the business is the same, one may need the video to gain investment, the other may need it to sell products. These are all the things a videographer has to think about within the first 10 minutes of our initial meeting, and that's why set prices do not work. However, I work with all sorts of clients for all sorts of campaigns, very large and very small and, inevitably, I have some interesting stories from these jobs! So it dawned on me... why not share them with the world?
This was a very original and interesting shoot to work on, and I loved it! Sylvanian Families created a dolls catwalk, inclusive with a motor underneath which moved the dolls around the catwalk as if they were moving! It was every kids dreams - a real life, moving doll show. The fans of Sylvanian Families sent in their own hand-made costumes for each of the characters, and the best were chosen and featured in this video, with the finale being the entrance of the amazing Stella character dressed up to the nines in her long, sparkly, pink dress, finished with a mini tiara.
Another challenge I face is that sometimes my clients are so busy thinking about what they want from the job, what it will look like and how they will use their video, they forget how much time, effort and planning goes into each video. I usually like to give myself at least 2 weeks before a bigger shoot like this; for example, a client testimonial video filmed in an office is usually pretty straight forward and doesn't need 2 weeks worth of prep, planning or paperwork, because not too much is likely to go wrong, however, with this shoot I needed to organise studio space, hire kit, sort out the kit insurance, hire a freelance lighting technician to help me out, create the storyboards and more. Now, for this shoot I was given less than a weeks notice, and while organising all of the above there was a few times I thought it would never happen... but amazingly, I pulled it off and in the end the day went ahead smoothly, but more importantly - went ahead! The only downside was I wanted a jib to create the very best shots for this video, but none were available on such short notice so I used a track and dolly instead, which turned out fab anyway.
Something else people who aren't photographers and videographers think, is that they are one and the same, which is just not true. When I work alongside photographers we laugh about how different the two art forms are - each is an expertise within itself. The composition, lighting, lens' and a lot of other equipment needed is totally different - a videographer would never use a flash bulb light, and a photographer is unlikely to use LED's or red heads to capture their perfect image. One takes 1 frame with their camera, the other captures 24 frames per second which in turn become a video (hence the term 'moving image'). On the morning of the shoot, Sylvanian Families asked me to take pictures of each doll as well as capture the catwalk video. The pictures were then to be put in their branded booklet and sent out to press offices. Luckily, I dabbled in photography back in my college days, I had a photo published in “There and Back Again” written by Mark Atherton when I was 15 years old, so I was able to pull this off for the lovely company I was working for, and I've had to pull it off in the past with some of my other clients, but most videographers wouldn't have managed it. Lucky they hired me, ey! (Shamless plug.)
Photos published in "There and Back Again"
Sylvanian Families absolutely needed this shoot to go right for them, and so they changed their mind about a few decisions last minute (which costumes suit which doll etc.). For that reason the shoot ran over slightly, but I never mind if this happens and I'm always happy to stay over to ensure I get what I need for for my clients - what is the point in our joint effort if the outcome is not perfect? In order to achieve this before our studio time ran out I had to take control of some of the decisions, which sped it up a bit and I think they were greatful for an outsiders input! In the end, the two Sylvanian Families people who were there running the shoot needed to go to get back to London in time, so they entrusted me and my lighting technician to finish the shoot without them. I was glad they were able to do this, as it shows their trust in me and Quill Creations.
This shoot was at the start of 2018... it took me 4 hours to get home, which was 10 miles away, driving through the dark, snowy, icy roads. I eventually made it home (and popped the kettle on after that drive!), and 10 days later Sylvanian Families had their approved and loved video, ready to be installed into the window of Hamleys Toystore in London, and around the shop on their screens. If you want to take a look, search 'the Smallest Catwalk in the World', and that's exactly what it was!