Earlier this year, NPS Canada contracted us to shoot a short film utilizing a new camera they had coming out. What we wanted to do with the project was find a way to showcase the capabilities of the camera while also telling a story. For this project, we chose to produce a full campaign that included a short documentary, behind the scenes film as well as a photo series. What we want to do in this post is give you a look at how we approached this project. We will be looking at:
- Proposal Breakdown
- Story Development
- Production Breakdown
- Social Strategies
Like with any campaign, it is imperative that a strategy is developed early on so you have a goal you are working towards. Our approach with this project was to craft the story before we even started shooting.
When approaching our proposal, we wanted to paint a clear picture of what we were wanting to produce. We broke down everything from our story to the characteristics of our lead character. We were looking at shooting a documentary on a fisherman and did not have a candidate secured when developing the proposal so we had to develop a character breakdown to help explain what we were trying to do. Our strategy with all proposals is to include as much information as possible to help when approaching production. It is also the first chance you have to impress your client and we see this stage as an investment in the working relationship.
A legacy is built upon a foundation of passion and perfection that extends far beyond a lifetime. This legacy is carefully refined with every decision that is made. Be it a fishing operation or the refinement of a digital camera, these decisions are what shape an industry.
For this project, our goal is to showcase what the D810 is capable of producing in both still and video formats. A photo series, a 30 second teaser, three minute documentary and BTS video will be produced that showcase the capabilities of this camera while focusing on the technical specifications that make this camera unique. These videos will be watched by not only the current customer base but also the general public because of the format of storytelling.
These shorts will be distributed on NPS / Nikon Canada’s social media channels, and Youtube.
Every Moment Counts is a short that follows the journey of Manny Vaughan who has been fishing for 70 years. This film features his journey of passion and drive through his many years living and breathing on the open sea.
When breaking down the story, there were a lot of things we had to consider. We had a rough idea of the story we wanted to tell that we developed in the pre-production / proposal stage and it was imperative that we hit our key story points. When we started to collect story points, our first goal was to do a sit down interview with our lead character, Manny. This interview went on for about an hour and a half. What was great about it was that it didn’t come across as an interview, rather, a conversation between two people. This was a great approach as we were able to have a real conversation with Manny and we were able to get him to open up.
Regarding story points, the story we really wanted to tell was that of a fisherman who has fished his whole life. He is a character that cares deeply about his family but also about fishing. The major conflict developed in the story was the sea. What we wanted to do was turn the ocean into a character and place it as the antagonist of the story. By doing this, we feel we were able to develop our story points.
Our story opens with Manny talking about the power of the sea and reveals the inciting incident that you must not take the power of the sea for granted. It is a powerful force and it is key to respect it. In the way he delivers the lines, the subtext is that he knows this through personal experience and sets the stage for the rising action and climax that occurs later in the story.
For this piece, we setup the story in a way that first introduces Manny and then goes on to reveal that he has lived a hard life and this is paralleled through his voice – which is rugged, coarse and aged. We felt that this really aided in this idea of growth, experience and age. After establishing who Manny was, we then went on to introduce to the audience about his life and experiences with fishing. We started with some early memories fishing with a safety pin and how when he finally got real hooks, he thought he was ‘big time’. We see through the way that he delivers his story that he truly loves fishing.
Our first plot point or point of conflict is in his description of his fear for the sea. We find out early that even though he has a fear for the sea, fishing overcomes this fear and it is this passion that keeps him coming back. As the story continues, we revisit the idea that the sea is a place to fear and to not overlook this power. He reinforces this power by revealing one of the main reasons he fears the sea. This loss of his friends of sea still haunts him and it was our goal to capture this emotion. We did this by showing him for the first time on camera. As we move closer on his face, we see his eyes wheeling up with tears.
Our resolution to the story revisits his love for fishing to show that no matter how much fear exists, it is the love for the task that keeps bringing him back. His connection with family and friends is his guiding light and is what truly makes him happy. At the end of the day, what we wanted to leave the audience with is a story about the value of family and how activities such as fishing can bring people together. Our focus on the act of fishing and commitment demonstrated through the 70 years truly shows the role passion plays and how it is critical in living a satisfied life.
Our focus is on the small rural fisherman who has been able to do what he loves while still being able to support his family at the same time. Our focus isn’t just about the success of catching fish – its about the journey. Work-life balance has always been a challenge but this is normal. A culture breeding a work ethic built on hard-work and long hours has allowed our lead character to continue to build on the family legacy.
When selecting our candidate, it is key we find someone who is nearing retirement but has lived a long and full life. We will target an active fishing community that is struggling to make ends meet with the new regulations being introduced that limit the opportunities for small operations to succeed. We are not making a statement about the industry, rather showing that no matter the obstacles, passion is what keeps these operations running.
When approaching production, we had an idea of what we wanted to capture and our goal was to first seek out someone who could fill the role of our lead character. Coming to Nova Scotia, we had a potential candidate but after visiting with him, he wasn’t quite the perfect character for this story. This forced us to hit the ground running when we landed. Our schedule was as follow:
June 16th– Preston, Mike & Brent arrive in Nova Scotia and our first plan of action was to make it to our accommodations and get settled in. We squared away our gear and prepped for our first scout day.
June 17th – Our main objective of this day was to head out to Cape Breton to meet with Leonard Forsyth to see if he was the candidate for the project. After he showed us around and told a bunch of great stories, we realized that although he was a great storyteller, he wasn’t quite the character we had laid out in the proposal. We then decided to head out to Peggy’s Cove to see if we could secure some locations.
June 18th – Today was one of two rain days. There was a nice fog that rolled in and our objective was to film the intro sequence for the film. We started the day off in Hall’s Harbour to see if there were any spots we wanted to use and then headed off to Peggy’s Cove again to capture the intro shots.
June 19th – We spent our third day at Peggy’s Cove and talked with more locals. We secured our first location at Peggy’s Cove and got a great lead about a boat and our second main shooting location. We also scouted around Prospect to find the cliffs we wanted to use for the behind the scenes intro segment. At this point, we had only secured one building to shoot in and still had not secured our talent. In the evening we met with Manny, who we got the contact information from the breakfast joint that we ate at the previous mornings.
June 20th – Today was our last scout day and when we had to secure all our locations and talent. Brent left in the morning and Mike and I then pushed all day to secure the rest of our locations. We also picked up the rest of our gear. We headed back out to Peggy’s Cove to follow up on leads and secure some locations and props. What was really cool about today is that we saw a Blue Fin Tuna come in! It looked like a large dinosaur. Following this experience, we then called Manny in the evening to confirm that he was the lead that we wanted to use.
June 21st – Mike and I shot the interview with Manny in the morning and we then headed to the airport to pickup CJ & Paul. We spent the rest of the evening editing the interview we shot in the morning to develop a rough cut. We prepped our gear for the next two days as we were planning to shoot principal photography in Peggy’s Cove.
June 22nd – Brent arrived in the morning and we then headed straight to Peggy’s Cove. We captured the supporting footage scenes in the shed and then on the boat.
June 23rd – Today was our first day of aerial photography. The crew headed out in the morning to shoot in Prospect and then headed to Peggy’s Cove with Manny to capture our second day of footage and also capture the images for the photoshoot.
June 24th – Our last day of aerial photography was spent around Hall’s Harbour and Centreville.
June 25th – With Brent leaving again on the 25th, we had to shoot his interview and we chose to shoot it at Hall’s Harbour. We then headed to Manny’s place to shoot the supporting footage sequences at his house.
June 26th – After dropping Brent off at the airport, we headed to Lunenburg to see if there were any shots we wanted to get from the picturesque city. It ended up being extremely rainy and we weren’t able to film a lot. However, Mike and I were able to get a great photo by the Blue Nose 2 and we were also able to shoot CJ’s interview.
June 27th – Today, CJ left and Karrnnel arrived. It worked great as we were able to only take one trip to drop off and pick up. Our accommodations were 1 1/2 hours from the airport so it was a bit of a distance. Mike and I headed to Manny’s house in the evening to capture the remainder of shots at his house. Karrnnel spent the day working on the custom score.
June 28th – With Karrnnel arriving the day before he was now prepped and ready to start working with other artists. We headed to Halifax in the morning to record with Seph Peters. The documentary rough cut was due today so we spent the day refining the edit now that we had most of the content captured.
June 29th – We headed back to Peggy’s Cove and Prospect to shoot the remainder of the behind the scenes shots and then captured Michael’s interview as well. Our highlight from this day was eating 48 oysters at Ryer’s, our ocean-side shuck and chuck.
June 30th – The focus of today was to shoot Preston’s interview at Hall’s Harbour and assemble the behind the scenes rough cut. We also prepped gear for our next two days on the road through Cape Breton.
July 1st – For Canada day, we decided to head to Sydney to record with Kimberley Fraser. Once we wrapped working with Kimberley, we then headed through Cheticamp in the evening and had our unexpected off-road adventure. In the evening, Karrnnel had a show at a local pub to celebrate Canada. It was a blast!
July 2nd – Making our way back from Cheticamp, we headed for Halifax to first shoot Karrnnel’s interview and then drop him off, along with the gear, at the airport. We wrap production.
July 3rd – Today was spent wrapping all the gear to send home. We had to drop off five bags at WestJet cargo as we were only able to take four bags each with us.
July 4th – Preston and Michael depart Halifax for Saskatoon!
July 6th – All assets were due. Luckily, we decided to hold off on the main release for one week so we had an extra six days to refine edits for the release.
Bringing The Proposal To Life
Our goal with this production was to try bring it to life as close to our proposal as possible and we felt the best way to do this was to immerse ourselves in the local culture and spend as much time with the locals as possible. We because regulars at a few places on our trip – from the breakfast joint, Eat Restaurant, to the restaurant at the top of Peggy’s Cove for our double Espresso and Kahlua and a cookie (you had to have a bite to eat to be seated and that was the cheapest thing on the menu :)). We think this was imperative and that we would not have been able to accomplish what we did without having made friends with the locals.
What we also chose to do was visit the locations from the pre-production photos to ensure our images were as similar as possible to what we pitched.
I think our most challenging part was finding our local talent. It was absolutely amazing how everyone was willing to help without asking for anything in return. People just opened their doors for us and this was really quite amazing! I’m not sure we would have had this experience in too many other places.
With the quick turnaround we had for this project, it was key that we started the edit while on the road. With the long distances between locations, we decided to put the edits together while driving. This was a great way to review footage we just shot and start to see the film take shape. By doing this, we were able to quickly see what we still had left to film and were able to adapt the project as we worked on it.
We have included a side by side comparison with the raw footage beside the graded footage. We added sharpness to the raw image as it is easier to see the gradations in the raw footage. Outside of the sharpness, the footage is untouched.
Regarding our approach to the social campaign, we decided to split the releases up. The teaser video was set to be released on July 9th, the main film on July 14th, the behind the scenes on July 19th and the photos to be released throughout this period.
We must say that this film would not have come together without the help of everyone involved. Without the help of the entire crew, the locals and especially Manny, this piece would not be what it is. We are extremely pleased and hope you enjoy!