This month, Pascal and I became movie stars. We were actually supporting actors; the real stars were the chocolate dipping pot and the bon bons. Chris Davis of Chris Davis Productions and his talented crew descended on the bon bon factory to film a 2-minute promotional video about South 'n France. I hesitate to use the term 'video' because the quality and the production value of this promotional piece reads more like a mini film than like the unsteady, poorly lit, amateur YouTube spots the word 'video' brings to mind.
There is a lot that goes into making a 2-minute movie of this caliber! I couldn't help but think of a variation on that old joke, "How many people does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" In our case, it was "How many people does it take to stir a pot of chocolate?" The answer, if you're filming, is five. One to direct, one to assist, one to light, one to film, and one to actually stir! I snapped a few photos while Chris and his team adjusted lighting and directed Pascal to get a perfect shot of stirred chocolate complete with visible steam escaping in curvaceous, sexy vapor waves from the pot!
The Chris Davis Productions team really knows its stuff. They think of every single detail (like the steam) and they make it fun and interesting for us amateurs. I learned a lot! For example, it is very uncool to call things by their real names. Camera men (there were no women in this case) call clothespins "C-47s". And if you want to plug something in, you ask for a "stinger" (never an extension cord!)
There are all sorts of neat lighting tricks to achieve desired effects; sadly, they have yet to devise tricks to make me look 50 pounds thinner on camera! But, they did use filters, water glasses, hand shadows, cardboard, and all sorts of other creative tools to cast light and shadows that give the video its warm, inviting feel.
As for the casting, that's where I came in. I didn't want to disappoint Chris, who works on amazing shorts with perfectly selected character actors (just watch his reel, or what I call a portfolio, to see what I mean). So, I did what I always do when I'm out of my league. I turned to the professionals. I called my friends Rob Powers and Sydney Pennyand asked them to do me a big favor. Lucky for me, they were willing to accept an evening of bon bon tasting in exchange for their industry knowledge. You might recognize Syndey, who is a Daytime Emmy-nominated actor, from her roles as Julia Santos Keefer on the soap opera All My Children and Samantha "Sam" Kelly on The Bold and the Beautiful.
I filled in the cast with a couple more friends (including Heather Tompkins, our company's top "model" and Bon Bon Princess) as well as a few people I had never even met! I actually found one of our actors via Twitter when the film studio retweeted my announcement that I was 'casting' for our video. Talk about the power of social media! I was happy to have "new customers" in our video so that my subsequent voice over was truthful. The "trying flavors for the very first time" was also true--our actors all got to try our seasonal Pumpkin Bon Bon for the very first time, even if some of them were already loyal fans of other bon bon flavors.
We tried to serve some wine to our volunteer acting crew as a supplement to payment in bon bons, but the bright lights and an open door (for a shot that didn't make it into the video) were a powerful magnet for an entire family of gnats who loved our wine so much they decided to skinny dip in our decanter! Our next two bottles were corked, but we finally managed to get something that didn't taste like rotgut in their glasses....
When the filming was complete (enough footage to create a few minutes of film takes dog years--or at least multiple visits!), the editing process began. Multiple visits created a new challenge: continuity. Like any movie, watch very closely and you'll spot a tiny inconsistency or two. In our case, it was Pascal's hands. Can you see the difference?
Chris and his team worked wonders in the editing room! For example, although Pascal and I felt a bit silly when they asked us to dance for the camera, that little snippet of the two of us is one of our favorite clips! I'm also impressed that they actually got Pascal to smile. I don't know how they did it, but I'm grateful. When I came in during the final stage of editing to record the voice-overs, I got to see how they control sound volumes versus background music to create a seamless product.
There is so much more I could tell you, but why don't you just watch it? Meanwhile, know that I highly recommend Chris Davis Productions. While we were filming, I joked about having two huge cameras trained on me, while I stood on my marker and took breaks to powder my nose. "This is as close as I'll ever get to knowing what it is to be a darling of the paparazzi!", I said.
Truth is, Chris makes his clients feel like stars and he delivers a product that is worthy of being nominated for industry awards (in fact he's won quite a few in his day!) Chris is at once an artist and a consummate professional, not to mention a super nice guy. We were lucky to work with him and his team of talented young men and we're happy to have a video that shows everyone who visits us online a little bit more of what we're all about.
We hope you enjoy watching our promotional video as much as we enjoyed filming it. And, "y'all leave feedback in the comments now, ya hear?"