At a marketing meeting back in September this year, we agreed that our Christmas Campaign this year really needed video content. What better way to capture the magic of child-led, outdoor play than watching it unfold in front of our eyes? Like the majority of the nation, we enjoy the release of clever videos each November, encouraging us to get in the festive spirit (albeit sometime a wee bit early) and video content is fast outperforming ‘still’ imagery on social media.
As the story-line gained shape in our heads, we began to get excited - and so it was agreed that our first ever Christmas video would be filmed during the craziest, most disconcerting year in our lives.
The choice of location and our cast of young superstars were dictated by the Government regulations. We were allowed to shoot and our filming was deemed a workplace - but we’d have to stick to social distancing guidelines, remain outdoors and keep numbers to the bare minimum.
The children all attend the same small, rural school and are either in the same ‘bubble’ or the same household and three are my own. Happily, this meant no nerves as the children all knew each other - as well as the town we filmed in. These were challenges beyond the usual for a film shoot, but we were committed, we had approval and we were not going to let COVID19 spoil any more of our plans!
Armed with a shot-by-shot schedule and a plan that the military might be proud of, we took a punt on the weather and headed out one autumnal day in October on the quest for magic…
We needed two locations - one to cover the first part of the film, where the children leave the screen and their home and collect friends on their way across the town. The second is their arrival in the woodland - which transforms into a glorious encampment. Our clever videographer uses a repeat shot featuring a boot splashing in a puddle to transition from one location to the other - can you spot this in the film?
In addition to our schedule, we were also fairly heavily armed with props, amongst which were several buckets filled with crisp and dry autumn leaves, collected on the school run from the foot of a rather glorious maple tree. We knew the children would be kicking leaves on their scamper across the woodland floor, but with a soggy forecast, these ‘prop’ leaves were added (you’ll need to be eagle-eyed to spot this shot!).
Our (at the time, yet-to-be-released) Fire on a Plate Kit provided the visual and audio prompts to draw the children to the den encampment. We love the way that the fire steel scraping cuts into the film, with the successful strike igniting the fire and providing the transition to ‘magic’ that gives us our first view of the children in headdresses and surrounded by dens.
In order to transform the children and their surroundings we firstly needed to set up the encampment in advance (without the children to capture genuine amazement). Kay and Jo did this with aplomb, adding fairy lights to trees and generally making the sight of all our kits as enticing to the children as they could. It worked and the children’s delight and excitement is what makes this film such a joy to behold.
They really did have the time of their lives out there in the woods. There was nothing for us to do but keep our distance, and make sure we’d caught it on film.
This film was never so much about a focus on our kits, what differentiates the dens, what you get in each bag, which is best for a specific child. We were hoping to showcase the absolute, unadulterated joy that can be experienced outdoors by children who are really enabled to play.
That, for us, was the motivation for our video - and we really hope you feel we managed it.