Casandra and a young kid in the garden

Behind the Scenes with AHM: Eugene Mission Giving Campaign

A crucial part of being the branding and communications partner for the Eugene Mission is creating a series of video spots for the November and December giving season.

In this post we talk with AHM Video Editor Justin Russell for a behind-the-scenes take on how this year’s spots came together and what people should know about making great video content that gets noticed and gets results.

What was the ask from the client?

“Each year we are responsible for creating a series of spots for the Eugene Mission giving season. This year, along with a spot dedicated to Eugene Mission Executive Director Sheryl Balthrop, we also needed to highlight the transformational experience of the Life Change Program as seen through the eyes of two unique individuals. While both individuals had come to the Mission in a dark place, their experience in the program moved them into place of light with hope for a more purposeful life and a brighter existence. We knew it would be important to figure out how to capture and communicate that transformation in the right way. The ask was for three 30-second commercials as well as shorter cutdowns. This year we were also tasked with making longer-form cuts for their website.”

What were your creative goals for the project? What lighting design techniques were used to help convey the desired tone and feeling?

“Early on we had a meeting with the Mission’s communications manager about the style and tone for this year. Both stories from the guests were very unique and inspiring and we wanted to approach it differently than years previous. My idea was to light the interview section very dark, while juxtaposing it with very bright and colorful b-roll. This style was to showcase their transition from darkness to light by a literal lighting transition. I built a mood board with images and styles I was trying to create in pre-production as a baseline. We then shot the interviews in the AHM studio on a black background with two cameras. I had to use a good amount of flags to cut the light from the background to create the separation and control any light spill.”

To emphasize the before and after of Sam’s and Casandra’s journeys, Justin juxtaposed dark and bright lighting to symbolize their transformations.

What surprised you about this year’s Eugene Mission shoot?

“We always have great stories from guests of the Mission, but I was very touched with the guests’ vulnerability on camera. Their openness and transparency was inspiring.”

How do you help people feel comfortable in front of the camera?

“It is not always easy to get authenticity when dealing with tense subject matter during an interview process. The goal is to always make them feel as comfortable as possible. Lightening the set with some laughter and letting them know they are welcome to ‘mess up’ answers and start questions again are quick ways to ease any fears.”

How many hours of footage did you need to capture to create the final product?

“We typically shoot 15- to 30-minute interviews for each guest as well as about 30 minutes of b-roll. All of that gets distilled down to a 30-second commercial.”

Can you tell us a little about the post-production process? How long did that take compared to the shoot itself? How do you tell someone’s story in a 15- to 30-second commercial?

“Post-production is most always a longer process than shooting. I initially start by logging all of the footage – which essentially means watching everything that was captured, making notes and color coding anything that stands out. I typically include markers on timestamps where the interview said something that I feel was best. From there it is finding a rhythm to their story and condensing it down to the key beats that will be the most impactful.”

What’s one thing you wish people knew about making great video content?

“It all starts with story. If there isn’t a good story to capture, then the video often falls flat. Working with the Eugene Mission is always a homerun because we always know we will capture very authentic and real stories from the guests.”

Sam in the garden

What’s one thing you’d want people to take away from the campaign?

“I hope that people take away just how important the work is that the Eugene Mission does. It truly changes lives.”

What’s your favorite part about working with the Eugene Mission? What was the most rewarding part of this project?

“The Eugene Mission is one of my favorite clients. A majority of work I do in the year is product-centered or quick social media campaigns, but the Mission allows myself, and AHM as a whole, to be a part of something that transforms individual’s lives. Creating a compelling giving season campaign brings in more donations, which allows the Mission to continue their meaningful work.”

Check out our process in action