Questions Answered: First Bank and Trust
Production Insight from Kat Bundy, VP of Marketing
When producing a commercial, how do you decide who you will be focusing on for each one?
Typically, First Bank has a specific customer in mind when they contract us for each video production but not always. Over the last four years, we have produced about a dozen of these interview-style customer testimonials for a variety of their services including commercial banking services, agriculture lending, and mortgages. Sometimes when we negotiate a deal, we know they want to focus on a particular product or offering of the bank and then the challenge becomes finding the right customer to talk to about that product. There is a lot of coordination between the marketing team at First Bank & Trust, our team and, frequently, the lenders or individual bankers who work directly with the customers. You always want to find someone who has been established with the bank for a while, who has had a positive customer service experience and who ideally has a cool story behind their partnership with the bank.
As you begin the project, what is your approach for the message you hope to get across? How do you achieve this within in the content shot?
With an interview-style video, it has been my experience that this changes a few times before the project is complete. This type of project always has at least a few opinions contributing to it: the bank’s, the customer’s, and then our creative perspective. We will go into the project with one idea of what the interview should say based on what the bank has told us about the customer. Then as we interview the customer, they tell us something that takes the video in a different direction. Or, sometimes, the customer doesn’t wind up being very comfortable in front of the camera and you have to find ways to make them comfortable and to work around that as you develop the story. Our best strategy for these videos has been to capture as much footage as we possibly can, asking all the questions we can possibly think of and then work through the content in post to craft a story. This also helps us for future projects when the bank sometimes calls us and ask us to create something else from the footage we already shot.
What do you feel is the single most difficult shot to coordinate for this particular project?
The most difficult shot for the project also turned out to be the most beautiful shot of the whole series. You may or may not know much about farming, so I’ll preface this by explaining that the old saying, “make hay while the sun shines,” is 100% true, all the time. What that translates to is that farmers of all kinds have to take care of their responsibilities when the conditions are right, you don’t wait, hoping the weather will hold. When crops are ready to be harvested, you can’t wait.
Our team was asked to get some shots of wheat harvesting and the combines being offloaded into trucks. We lined up a customer who was planning to do just that the week we were going to be shooting in his area. When we arrived at his farm that morning, to our great dismay, he told us that the weather was good, so his team had finished their wheat harvest the day before. THE DAY BEFORE!
One of the loan officers who had joined us for the shoot said he had a few other clients in the area who were growing wheat. He spent the next two hours calling around and fortunately, found a customer an hour away in the opposite direction, but he let us know we had to be there that afternoon, or he would be done too.
At this point, we are rushed, tired, really sweaty and a little sunburned. All I can think is that there is no way this shot is going to be worth all the trouble. Adding insult to injury, our production van gets stuck in the ruts where the combine made its corners but finally, the drone takes off.
We didn’t realize it until hours later when we finally crashed at our hotel and offloaded footage but that shot came out perfectly. By some miracle, the fact that it was late in the day gave us the perfect light. It was so miserably hot because the sky was clear and beautiful. The van got stuck because the field we were in was nestled in the most perfect grove of trees.
Getting that shot was more than a little stressful but so worth it in the end.
Do you find it difficult to capture and convey the personal emotion through shots? Where does the speaking content come from? Is it scripted ahead of time or is it off the cuff?
This really just depends on the person we are interviewing. Some people are very emotive; their expressions and voice inflection do a lot to help us capture the emotion. Others…take a little more work. Most of the time the content for each of these productions is off the cuff. We always want these productions to seem very authentic. We do our best to capture genuine emotion and reactions. That means that when we prep for these shoots, we give the interviewee a general idea of the types of questions we are going to be asking them, but we don’t tell them exactly where the conversation will go.
Is there anything else you want people to know about this project?
I honestly can’t think of much aside from the fact that I am so thankful for the team who worked on this project with me. In total, over the course of four years and the dozen or so videos, nearly every creative producer in our office has had to help with this project at some point or another. That’s helped to create a really diverse series with a wide range of styles and create an amazing archive of footage that our client will benefit from for a long time.