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Lights, Camera . . . Christmas!

By Patricia Evans, on December 4, 2014
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Long before the first towering tree is brought into the Conservatory, our marketing team is immersed in A Longwood Christmas. Just as our talented horticulture team is planning, designing, and creating the spectacular display, the marketing team is planning, designing, and creating how we will showcase and share the beauty of the season.

One of the first important dates that goes on the calendar is the television commercial shoot. We shoot our Christmas commercial about one week before the display opens, and just a few days before the commercial will air. This tight turnaround time is necessary because we want the commercial to showcase the current year’s display. To achieve this, our horticulture team begins setting up the always-dazzling Music Room a few weeks before the rest of the holiday display. In addition, our arborists begin stringing the 500,000 outdoor lights in September, so we can also highlight the outdoor light display.

Although our commercial changes every year, often to reflect the theme of the display, we always strive to showcase the beauty of A Longwood Christmas and to evoke the excitement and warm feeling of tradition Longwood represents for so many of our guests. We work tirelessly with Karma, our creative agency, and Neighborhood Film Company, our film crew, to finalize the storyboard, select the music, and pick the perfect actors and voiceover talent to create 30 seconds of TV magic.

The day before the actual shoot, the director will come out for a “scout.” This entails looking at all the possible shooting locations around the gardens and picking which will be used. We then have to communicate those locations to our staff who ensure they are ready for the shoot, whether it’s turning lights on, putting the final touches on decorations, or ensuring there is power for the crew’s equipment. The shoot day is long—and usually quite cold! This year was no exception. Here is a rundown of the commercial shoot:

1:00 pm—The video crew arrives to begin unloading a truck full of equipment and to begin lighting the Music Room. The Director and Director of Photography discuss the shot list, angles, lighting, and more in preparation to begin shooting.1:00 pm—The video crew arrives to begin unloading a truck full of equipment and to begin lighting the Music Room. The Director and Director of Photography discuss the shot list, angles, lighting, and more in preparation to begin shooting.

2:00 pm—Meanwhile, talent arrives and goes into makeup and wardrobe. Here, the actress playing the “Mom” in our TV family gets a final touchup. 2:00 pm—Meanwhile, talent arrives and goes into makeup and wardrobe. Here, the actress playing the “Mom” in our TV family gets a final touchup.

 

4:24—Action! Filming begins. Members of the creative team watch the monitor during filming to make sure we are getting the shots needed.4:24—Action! Filming begins. Members of the creative team watch the monitor during filming to make sure we are getting the shots needed.

5:32—Yea!! The first shot is finished.

7:15—Shooting completed in the Music Room. On to Exhibition Hall for a quick shot with our “Mom and Dad” under the watchful eye of the Director and Director of Photography.7:15—Shooting completed in the Music Room. On to Exhibition Hall for a quick shot with our “Mom and Dad” under the watchful eye of the Director and Director of Photography.

8:30 pm—After a brief dinner break, we bundle up and head outdoors for the outdoor lighting shots.

9:00 pm—OK, it’s really cold ... but our youngest actor finds a creative way to keep warm. 9:00 pm—OK, it’s really cold ... but our youngest actor finds a creative way to keep warm.

10:30 pm—After some final instructions from the Director, we get the last shot. It’s a wrap!! Actors and some crew depart, while the remaining crew packs up all the equipment. 10:30 pm—After some final instructions from the Director, we get the last shot. It’s a wrap!! Actors and some crew depart, while the remaining crew packs up all the equipment.

11:30 pm—The end of a long day, as the final crew members depart.

Early the next morning our friends at Neighborhood Film begin editing the various shots into the final 30-second spot. As the day progresses, we see rough cuts of the commercial and give feedback, perhaps switching the occasional shot, making sure the voiceover sounds as we want it to, and ensuring the necessary visiting information is included for viewers. By early evening, the commercial is finished and delivered to the TV stations to begin airing.

Our final commercial depicts the excitement and anticipation of coming to A Longwood Christmas, and of course, shares the unmatched beauty of this display. We hope you enjoy it.

Photos by Richard Donham.

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