July 28th, 2015
The Making of “The Postcard”
How do you tell Vistaprint’s story inside the confines of a TV commercial? Our creative team decided that the best way for us to convey our story to consumers was to tell theirs. How did Vistaprint demonstrate that everything you create matters? With a postcard.
We interviewed the team behind one of our most creative and engaging outreach efforts to find out what it takes to tell the Vistaprint story. Meet Ryan Kavanagh, Senior Video Production Specialist.
Ryan, what is your role at Vistaprint and in this campaign?
I’m the Senior Video Production Specialist at Vistaprint, where I’ve been working for a year and a half. My background is in producing fishing and hunting shows for reality television. I’ve lived with a tribe in Brazil, and hunted muskox in the Arctic Circle. After working on Sasquatch, Mountain Man and Monster Fish, I was ready to do something completely different. At Vistaprint I do all levels of social and broadcast videos. I fill in wherever I’m needed. Bruce Lee used to say the best thing you can be is “adaptive,” and that’s what I try to be.
Share a bit about the process.
I always think of a shoot as a super-organism, and all these parts are just moving on their own. That’s what I like about it. I thought it would be cool to show the juxtaposition between what was happening on set and how the film turned out. I thought of the set as a war and wanted to show the ground troops as well as the generals.
In this shoot, the wind was the predominant factor. This behind-the-scenes film is the story of how the commercial was made, not just by the director or the actors. There were 50 guys running around and holding up flags and lighting equipment in huge wind.
I had a vision of what I wanted to do, but when I got to South Africa, I realized the crew wasn’t into behind-the-scenes videos. From the first day, I realized that I had to walk a little more softly than I thought I would have to, trying to do the film without getting in the way.
What is different about this project vs. others you’ve done at Vistaprint (or even other places)?
Typically, low-budget sets move pretty quickly, and high-level budgets move slowly. This was a high-budget set that moved pretty quickly.
I wish that I could have captured more, but you have to make a decision: What story are you trying to tell? We had a really funny assistant director. I could have shot Nick, the assistant director, the whole time and wound up with 70 hours of video that I could have edited into a really funny video about the assistant director, but that’s not the story I was trying to tell.
The challenge in shooting something as it happens is that you need to be able to anticipate things, or be extremely lucky, plus choose the story you want to tell. If a camera is in the room and something interesting happens, that doesn’t mean you captured it. You must have the camera on, pointed at the subject, and the subject miked, and you can’t film for 24 hours straight. And unlike in a reality-show situation, I can’t say, “Nick, say that again,” because he’s actually doing his job running a 50-something person crew.
What was your favorite part of making the commercial?
Now that the commercial is over, I’m plucking out these stories that I find interesting and making them into little video pieces. For example, the director and producer always did this thing when they had a child actor on set. We had a child actor, Lucas, in the commercial and the producer and director did a little digging and found out he wanted a football (soccer ball) for Christmas. So on the last day of shooting, they gave him a football. They also gave him a gingerbread house. It was cute, and he was really filled with gratitude.
I was there for my birthday, and being in Cape Town was better than a birthday cake back here! One day off after shooting, we even went up to Table Mountain.
What did it mean to you to be a part of this and to see it come to life?
In production, you need to be good at collaboration. I like the people I work with and enjoy collaborating with them. Not only am I proud of what I did in the project, but I’m also proud of the people I worked with.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime to go to South Africa. I would never think to go there on vacation. I love when people send you to a place you’d never think of going, and it’s beautiful.
See even more insight into the commercial with a spotlight on the Barrett and Son Bakery & Cafe, as well as interviews from the actors, director, writers, and producers:
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