Behind the Scenes at SVG: On Set

Joe, our Shoppe-keeper, and Brian, The Director of Photography line up the next shot.

Joe, our Shopkeeper, and Brian, the Director of Photography line up the next shot: an insert of addressing envelopes.

Skillman Video Group spends so much time helping our clients market their companies that we rarely get the opportunity to market ourselves. When I began my work at SVG, I decided to make a cinematic commercial for our social media services, something more broad than our usual work.

It takes a lot of work to make a commercial. Scheduling, finding locations, casting, budgeting, lighting, food, etc. As if that were not enough, I set our video in a “turn-of-the-century” shoppe, which requires extra work with wardrobe, set decoration, and props. But I felt the greater production value was worth the extra investment in time.

After searching for several weeks for an appropriate, available location to serve as an Old Timey Shoppe we decided to build a set in my basement. The plan had the advantage of giving us freedom to do whatever we wanted, short of setting the building on fire, on our own schedule. It had the disadvantage of requiring that we build and decorate a set from scratch. My background in set design made it easy, despite the extra work involved.

I knew that the most important part of making a high quality video production was the cinematography. We shot the video on the Cannon 7D, a camera I’ve talked about in a previous blog post, that captures a “film-like” look. We also had quite a few more lights than we usually use in our small shoots, another element vital to achieving a cinematic look. Our cinematographer used not only his lights and camera, but also drew on his experience as a photographer, gaffer, and grip in Hollywood films.

Christina Skillman, Joe, and Francis rehearse their scene.

Christina Skillman, Joe, and Francis rehearse their scene in front of Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge.

The set, performances, costumes, and cinematography combined to make a short that showed off what SVG can do with a social video if we “pull out all the stops.”

I cashed in all favors owed to me and had great help from friends and local businesses. Many of the props came from Freight House Antiques and Mad Props. Our costume designer, cinematographer, and actor were good friends from the film business. Our supporting cast were the people of SVG. I even tapped the assistance of my local wine and cheese shop, Formaggio Kitchen, for our exteriors. It’s cool what you can get when you just ask.

If you’d like to know more about how we made our social video just leave a comment. Also check out the Behind the Scenes photos on our Facebook page.

Next up: editing. Stay tuned.