Not only did it take us from our desks in the office to our kitchen tables at home, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged us to find new ways of producing creative work—and making it great. With safety concerns and limitations, typical video shoots were often put on hold. But we weren’t about to let the inability to bring a whole crew to the set stop us from pitching great ideas to our clients.
With our value of earning trust front and center, we worked with Jack’s Family Restaurants to produce a digital video entirely remotely. With a strong project proposal, detailed planning and a willingness to do things a little differently all around, we did what we always do now—we hopped on a Zoom call.
Earning Trust and Taking Risks
At GS&F, our values drive us every step of the way. In our work with Jack’s, earning trust has particularly played a pivotal role. We built trust as we partnered with the Jack’s team on other projects, such as social media content and an influencer campaign. “The Jack’s team grew in confidence that we understood the brand’s voice, goals and direction,” says Rachel Farthing, Senior Account Executive, “so when we came to them with a big idea for Valentine’s Day, they were ready to take more risks.”
The only risk we weren’t up for? Gathering a large group during a pandemic for a video shoot. We knew we could pull off a shoot, but our teams were dedicated to remaining safe and exercising as much caution as we could to protect the health of all involved.
Pitching the Idea
Backed by strategic insights based on the brand’s calendar of limited time offers, our team approached Jack’s with a fully developed plan to celebrate their Valentine’s Day LTO—chocolate gravy biscuits. Though Jack’s had made many commercials, a short video intended for digital media use had not yet been created. We brought nearly a year of partnership and trust to the pitch, ensuring we aligned with the brand’s look and feel while pushing the brand a little outside their comfort zone.
To get Jack’s customers to try a new approach to Valentine’s Day, we wanted to highlight the sweet surprise of a breakfast date with an original scripted digital video and other assets to be used on the brand’s social channels.
While we explored options for an in-person video shoot with a leaner team, we opted to complete the shoot entirely remotely—and the Jack’s team was all in. Completing the review process via video calls would simply be an extended approach to the typical crew weighing in at a shoot and remote production would also save client resources, allowing us to divert funding to additional deliverables.
On Set With Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
With the director and production team housed in Birmingham near the Jack’s headquarters, everyone involved stepped into their roles to make the shoot happen. The Jack’s team delivered the product to the shoot location, our GS&F team fired up the laptops and got ready to weigh in via livestream, and our talent and production crew held down the fort on-site.
While pre-production is always important going into a shoot, it was even more so with a remote shoot to ensure upfront alignment. This helped us avoid surprises on the day of the shoot. “It was important to set expectations upfront,” says Liz Johnson, Integrated Producer. “We had to make sure everyone knew to be at the ready to art direct or provide approvals.”
During the livestream, we kept communication flowing. Just as with an in-person shoot, members of our team kept a continuous eye on the live feed in order to make sure all the details were just right before bringing in the larger team to review.
“We called the client in for feedback as needed and reviewed in real time,” says Farthing, “and we made adjustments on the spot, all over video.” Johnson also kept in touch with the on-site producer to ensure everyone was fully aligned. This constant communication also goes a long way in continuing to build trust, as all teams depended on each other to be available in a timely manner.
Challenges and Solutions
There were a couple small hiccups along the way that felt similar to in-person video production—tweaking wardrobe choices, for example. And Johnson admits, “It’s just easier to communicate in real time instead of through a screen lag time and poor internet connections.” Fortunately, we were prepared with backup communication options, including the ability to upload video to a Dropbox, in the event that the Zoom link wasn’t delivering the resolution we needed.
Despite the inherent challenge that comes from bringing an idea to life from a distance, our teams’ significant preparation led to few complications along the way. The shoot ran smoothly as all involved united under the common goal of producing great content. Plus, having a great partner provide clear direction and feedback, while also trusting us, is the recipe for a successful project—whether executed in person or remotely.
That’s a Wrap!
Production during a global pandemic isn’t easy. We certainly never could have predicted that we’d have to consider social distancing and mask protocols, but “being willing to take the safest route speaks volumes of our client’s integrity,” Farthing says. And now with many clients permanently working remotely, these safety concerns are likely here to stay.
But when we trust each other and believe in the same strong ideas we can push through it all, delivering strong results to our clients. And our work with Jack’s showed that remote video production isn’t truly a hurdle—it’s another opportunity.
Rachel Farthing, Senior Account Executive, and Liz Johnson, Integrated Producer, contributed to this post.