We produce over 40 commercials for the Boardwalk each year and most shared what we called the day and night base (last year we actually had four day bases but that’s another story). We had last shot video for our bases in 2008 and while we had edited new versions a couple of times, we definitely needed new images with new talent (especially with our teen and young adult talent).
On top of that, so much of television these days (advertising and programming) is much more immersive so part of our objective was to freshen up not just the cast, but the style as well. And we wanted to use some new toys and tools…the latest GoPro and DSLRs (Nikon D7100 and Canon 5DMark II); a remote controlled UAV—unmanned aerial vehicle) for new aerials; and immersive ground shots captured with a MOVI (like a Steadicam); which would put us right in the scenes with our cast.
We also wanted to streamline the process of auditions. In prior years, we would post a casting call, get head shot submissions, narrow them down to those we wanted to see, and then spend two days sitting in a room (our team and the Boardwalk’s marketing team) in auditions. It was a tremendous investment of time that none of us have these days. Not to mention, having over 100 actors drive to Santa Cruz for the chance to maybe be part of the cast. So this year, we proposed using technology to streamline the process. In addition to a headshot, the talent had to submit a video audition. We gave them simple instructions but were blown away by what many of the talent chose to do. They shot and edited their own little videos, showing off not only their acting chops but also their love for the Boardwalk.
We also made an extra-added effort to make sure local Santa Cruz actors knew about the auditions. While we posted our normal casting call on SF Casting, the Boardwalk also issued a press release about the casting call. This provided an additional wealth of talented actors and amazing audition videos. In the end, about half the cast came from Santa Cruz and the rest from other parts of Northern California.
Always Open to Concepts Evolving
It was during this process, as we watched the audition videos, that we rethought the behind-the-scenes segment for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: Memories Made Here Summer Special. Up until then, we envisioned that package would feature the making of the Undertow commercial, which had received too little airplay considering the power of the finished spot. The audition videos became the spark for us to rethink the segment. The Undertow commercial was shot a year earlier and by now, felt like “old news”. This refresh of the commercials would make for more compelling television so as we presented our recommendations for the cast to the Boardwalk marketing team—narrowed down from over a hundred to around 20—Tam pulled out a camera and I explained the evolution in our thinking with “We’re shooting the Behind the Scenes for the Summer Special.” And we moved on reviewing headshots and videos. You’ll see a bit of that meeting in the edited piece.
This change also gave us an opportunity to leverage the two budgets—Summer Special and commercial to give the Boardwalk more bang for their bucks. We would bring the MOVI out on production for the commercial and use it as both a primary shooting platform and the “behind-the-scenes” camera. It added another level of complexity to the day, which I managed, while Regan Eymann took over the responsibility of field producer for the spot, aided by the Boardwalk’s in-house producer, Director of Advertising, Sondra Woods.
Both projects benefitted. We believe the spots were the strongest ever and the Summer Special segment was more interesting. It was a win, win, win, win…