Every project is unique for a variety of reasons. For this project, what made it unique was that we had access to some of the most hard to access locations we have ever worked in. From shooting in a uranium mine to a steel melting and rolling mill, we were able to see some of the most unique spaces in Saskatchewan. As such, our goal was to take this opportunity to shoot these spaces in a completely different way.
For this project, we worked with a local agency to develop an extended brand story video as well as corporate profiles for the top six businesses in Saskatchewan.
The objective of this video is to attract investment in Saskatchewan and to encourage foreign companies to do business in Saskatchewan. This was done by familiarizing them with Saskatchewan’s competitive business environment, strength in its key sectors, and successful international companies already doing business here.
The videos portray the strength of Saskatchewan’s natural resources – energy, mining, agriculture, forestry – as well as opportunities in value-added industries.
This project was tendered out to a variety of production companies across Saskatchewan. Through the development of a comprehensive proposal discussing our creative approach, team and experience, we were able to secure the contract. When it comes to developing proposals, it is a process that is continually evolving. They generally take a few days to produce and are not a sure thing but I see them as the first step for setting the standard of expectations for your client. By putting in the investment up front, it is much easier to set the tone than it is to do so once production has started. For me, I also use this document as a guide to production and a point of reference you can use with the client to ensure everyone is on the same page about creatives, critical paths and deliverables.
Once we secured the contract, we met with the client to go over the project a bit closer and ensure everyone was on the same page about what was expected of the project. We talked further about our creative approach and started to develop a refined critical path and shooting schedule.
Our goal was to tap into the progressive and contemporary environment that Saskatchewan has become by featuring five business leaders as the advocates. Their positive testimonials tell the story of Saskatchewan in a credible and relatable way. It is their experience within the province that let’s us know that Saskatchewan is the ideal location for investment success. Statistics—presented as simply animated infographics—back up what the interviewees say with concrete facts. Credible opinion and proof.
In any project, it is key to understand a brand and find ways to illicit emotion that supports the project objectives. For ‘Think Big. Think Saskatchewan’, our goal was to visualize the palpable feeling of energy and excitement in Saskatchewan that can be felt and/or experienced through the people and places featured. It’s about capturing the big projects and big progress occurring in Saskatchewan by featuring the people who have helped shape the province. It’s about being in moments and about creating a story that people can connect with. Its about creating stories that make viewers watch in awe.
Three primary themes that will be embedded in this campaign are authenticity, confidence and success with the overarching theme of ‘thinking big’. Whether they are moments after you set up a new rig, or those moments after opening a new wing of a mine expansion, our goal is to capture those moments of pride directly connected to growth and prosperity.
For this initial brand video, our goal was to take the wide expansive landscape and analyze it at a micro level. Aerials will play a big role and will be the primary focus but it is key that we are able to connect these images to tangible tasks as well as the people behind the tasks.
Once we met with the agency, we then moved into pre-production as a team to determine how we wanted to cover the supporting footage segment of the project. For us, we know that we needed to ensure we caught the scale and expansiveness of the spaces. To do this, we decided to utilize aerials whenever possible.
For this project, we had an unprecedented level of access to shoot whatever we wanted, however we wanted. After some extensive safety training, we were able to gain access to spaces that felt as if they were ‘straight from a movie’.
Things to think about
Inevitably, working in spaces like these posed many logistical challenges. For one, we had to move a lot of gear between multiple buildings and facilities. For us, we used a panel van whenever possible and gear carts whenever we weren’t able to use a vehicle. For many of the shoots, we made sure to have extra hands available to hand bomb the gear as there were times we needed to move gear up stairs and between spaces.
Beyond the on the obvious ground support needed, we also had to take chartered planes between some of the locations. With the uranium mines being located in Northern Saskatchewan, we were forced to take these planes. As such, we needed to ensure our kit was refined as we were somewhat limited in the amount of gear we were able to bring with us. For us, this meant selecting gear that could serve multiple purposes.
When shooting in these unconventional spaces, we were forced to take safety training. One thing we asked beforehand was whether or not we had to build in days for safety training and we were told that this wouldn’t be necessary. However, we learned quickly that every single location required us to go through training. In hind-sight, we should have stuck with our gut and built it into the budget. Luckily, we had some contingency built in so we were able to accommodate these overages.
When shooting in unconventional locations, expect the worst. What we tried to do was have extra crew available, especially for when we had large unit moves. It is always easier to have move people on set – even if it is just one more PA than it is to look unprepared in front of the client. For us, we had a larger team for the first shoot and then once we knew what was needed for each location once we started rolling, we tightened up the team for the future locations. This was important as it was the first time we had worked with this agency and wanted to set the tone early.
What I Learned
I learned a ton on this production – mainly how critical pre-production is and how important it is to set the tone early. When shooting in these unique spaces, there will be many obstacles that arise and by being prepared upfront, you are able to overcome obstacles that come forward during production.