Going Pro: Discovery to Production

Film industries across the world are opening back up and we could not be happier. Production in Massachusetts has been doing just that. This meant that Boston video production company, Skillman Video Group, was finally able to get back on set. After nearly five months of biting our nails, after the spike of COVID-19, we were presented with another opportunity to work with Charlie Maher, the tennis athlete, training to go pro in the next few years. We were excited to work with him on this second project because, after the first one, we saw how driven he was to reach his goal. Going pro requires a lot of work on Charlie’s end and he needs a little help, so it was only right that we work with a client as driven as us! Our Discovery to Production Process will explain everything you need to know about how we make our videos.

Charlie wants to become a nationally ranked tennis player and a sponsored athlete. He is among the older crowd in the tennis community and wanted his video to communicate that he has was it takes. All he needs is sponsors and to keep training.

Check out Charlie’s first project by reading the Discovery to Production blog post, and the Editing and Finishing blog post to learn what he is all about! We were excited to take Charlie for a second ride through the Discovery, Strategy, Creative, Planning, and Production steps of the Skillman Video Group process in these unprecedented times.

DiscoveryDiscovery to Production

Normally in the first phase of the process, Discovery, we would have to gain as much information about the client as possible. In this case, we knew our client, and what he was looking for. He loved the first video we created for him so much, that he came back for not one video, but two videos. We were able to shoot both on the same day. Because we already discovered Charlie, for this stage in the process, CEO and Creative Director of SVG, Christina Skillman, sat down with him and talked about what he was looking for.

He wanted two different style videos. an investor video, that reached potential sponsors, and communicated to them that he is able to achieve his goal, and just need investors that are willing to go on the journey with him. The other video we created for him was a training video about how he’s going to train and really turn back the clock, and break the age barrier of pro tennis.

The discovery discussion for the investor video focussed on what was in it for the investors. What would they gain from joining him on his journey, and why should they invest in him, and his brand? Christina had to prepare many questions like these two for the interview, to bring out the authenticity that she knew Charlie had. Charlie had some extravagant ideas that Christina knew went against his personal brand, so steered him in the direction that would help him the most.

Location:

The YMCA in Goffstown, NH, let us use their space. We sent our Director of Photography prior to the shoot day to get an understanding of the space and how he and Charlie wanted to shoot the videos. This is very important all the way from discovery to production and allows for more time shooting day-of. We had to keep a tight schedule. To do this we made a shot-list and a schedule.

Strategy

The strategy phase is where we work with the client to create the key themes of the video. These are the overall values and mood of the video. This is also where we come up with key messages that will be said in the video.

Because we worked with Charlie last year, it was much easier to go through this process. The important aspects of this phase are deciding the location, key themes, and messages.

The tricky part was making sure Charlie was thinking strategically about the concept and get him outside his head and think about the project from a different angle. This gave him a new perspective and more control over what he said.

Charlie and ChristinaCreative Concept

The next step in the discovery to production process comes the creative concept phase! This phase is where we worked with charlie to figure out how exactly we were going to visually represent the key themes and messages. We put together a shot-list to guide us in capturing the best material on the shoot day.

Shots included dramatic shots of Charlie playing tennis, working out in the gym, lifting weights, and on the go interview shots, where we set up a camera and a light on the tennis court

Charlie wanted to be very static, on a tripod, looking head-on. Christina talked him out of it because you could hire anyone with a DSLR to do that. She also thought it wasn’t part of his brand. Based on the first video the camera was always moving. Everything in the video had to be who Charlie is as a person. Having movement also makes the shot so much more interesting.

Planning/Preproduction

This phase of the Discovery to Production Process is where all of the logistical information that the crew needs is made and sent out. This is also where the design of the video is made. After the key themes and messages are decided on, we design what the shots will look like based on the location. This is also where the questions are finalized, equipment is organized and ready to go, and double-checking everything to make sure we have the smoothest shoot possible.

Production

The last phase of Discovery to Production, is in fact, production. The shoot lasted from 11 AM to 6 PM. We arrived on set, checked in with the YMCA, and set up our equipment in the fitness studio. We had three locations to film, the sitdown interview in the fitness studio, the tennis shoot on the courts, and the workout at the gym. Due to COVID-19, we were only able to have a limited crew.

The shoot went as smoothly as possible. We used two lights and a tall chair for Charlie to sit on.tennis shoot This style of video was almost like an interview, but in actuality, it is a statement video, to the camera, and to the viewers. Christina was there to prompt Charlie with questions but when he responded he would look directly into the camera because he is talking to his potential investors.

When we moved from the fitness studio to the tennis court, Charlie underwent multiple wardrobe changes. There were multiple videos that we were shooting for him on the courts. One included a student from Southern New Hampshire University, that Charlie trains with. The interview setup we composed for Charlie on the court was simple. It allowed him to do wardrobe changes and bang out the interviews, and get right back to playing tennis.

Our DP was constantly talking with Charlie, to talk about the shot he wanted and what we were looking for Charlie to do. The last part of the day consisted of shooting in the weight room, we had another interview set up there. For the B-Roll shots, we got him lifting weights and training.

Conclusion

Finally wrapped, we loaded out and into the gear truck. The shoot was a success. The footage came out wonderful, and there were no conflicts that arose while filming. The next step in the Skillman Video Process is the Editing and Finishing stage. Our footage will be beautifully transformed into a couple of inspiring videos about Charlie Maher, trying to break the age barrier in pro tennis.

For more information, we encourage you to continue to explore our website and blogs about our innovative production process. If you have questions or would like to get started on your own project, contact us at info@skillmanvideogroup.com!