Earlier this year I wrote about a project I shot for long-time client Pictage and how the fact that a scheduled subject for one of the videos went AWOL the day of his shoot. The last minute pressure to come up with a new concept yielded some of my personally favorite work.
What is it about the creative process that when put under the gun, yields some of the best stuff from an artist. I remember friend and colleague Brett Culp telling a story of how during one high end wedding he was shooting, camera batteries died in two cameras and the replacement batteries were far from his set up. It was a disaster of a shoot. Based on what footage they had left, they had to pull out all of the stops to make it work. The resulting video became a first place award-winner at WEVA and was the main video in their demo for years to come. I remember in my own early career when weddings was our focus, and I had a gig where the sun was shining right into my camera for just about the entire outdoor ceremony. None of those visuals were usable. As in the case of Brett’s story, the resulting video I created ended up being my favorite (at the time). I would hazard to guess many of you reading this have your own similar, horror-turned-hero stories.
Well, I have yet another. For six years we’ve had the honor of producing promo videos for C.E.O. Women out of Oakland, CA. They help immigrant and refugee women start and run businesses. One of the greatest challenges we typically have during these shoots is the fact that many of the women in the program have not yet mastered English. So it becomes rather difficult to weave a compelling story. On top of that, they very seldom have any photos from their home country that can be used in the video. Every year we’ve made a promo though, we seem to pull through. This year is their 10th anniversary and the video we had to make this year was by far the most challenging. Usually there’s at least two or three women we interview whose English is okay. And we usually have enough shooting time to get plenty of b-roll to make up for a lack of photos. This year we were not able to get any b-roll with the women at their places of business, and English was particularly challenging. Yet, with the help of one of the C.E.O. Women employees, and with some creative b-roll of the interviewees shot at the C.E.O. Women offices, combined with gathering old video footage from our archives, we ended up creating a video which they (and many attendees) felt was the best one yet.
I hope this is an inspiration to you that when placed under pressure, you’d be surprised what you can pull off.