Video Production for Tourism // Portsmouth Destination Broadcast Commercial

// history //

Global Fire have a history of succeeding at telling stories in the touristry sector. Like these films we made for Wightlink Ferries.


// the requirement //

In early summer 2015, we were approached by Portsmouth City Council to produce a 30″ commercial for broadcast TV. The kicker was that we had to get it signed off by Clearcast and ready for broadcast within 8 weeks. With a process which included casting of professional actors, filming at three different local attractions, aerial filming, music composition/recording and special effects (like getting that end shot and making grey days appear sunny), this project required an ultra tight schedule. Additionally, we needed to stay within a modest budget.


// pre-production process //

Mark directs actors while Annabel keeps them shaded between takes

Mark directs actors while Annabel keeps them shaded between takes

The process began with meeting the client and receiving their brief. This client was made up of one main stakeholder who was managing multiple stakeholders of her own, each with their own interests to ensure were represented equally in the commercial.

We presented the client with three initial concepts and they chose a hybrid between two of them. The piece gained the working title “Connections” because the idea was based on different people around the city of Portsmouth, each enjoying different attractions, yet all connected through sending images with their devices. At the end of the piece, they all come together for one last shot looking out of the Spinnaker Tower, an iconic Portsmouth landmark.

While the director, Mark, worked to write the story and get storyboard approval with Clearcast, producer Elizabeth worked with her team to cast the actors and keep the stakeholders up to speed. The job of the producer is to keep communications flowing and always have their finger on the pulse, so to speak. So with a tight turnaround and stakeholders who were uber busy with the onset of the summer travel season, the project needed to run with military precision.


// challenges //

Darren sets up the quadcopter for aerial filming

Darren sets up the quadcopter for aerial filming

In addition to the tight 8 week turnaround, this job came with some unique challenges.

Aerial permissions and logistical planning were a big undertaking. Not only is Portsmouth a naval city with restricted airspace, but we were filming at the height of summer tourism to the city and health/safety precautions mean we can’t just fly a helicopter around willy nilly. We needed to film before attractions opened and we absolutely had to get the money shot on a blue sky day which can be hit and miss. You know the saying…if you don’t like the weather in England, wait 5 minutes!

Another area putting stress on production were questions surrounding the the tower being rebranded as the Emirates Spinnaker Tower. At the exact same time we were filming, the tower was being painted so right up until the very day we filmed, we were unsure what the status of the re-brand would be.


// getting it on the TV //

Clearcast is the portal through which agencies have to submit their intended TV ads. They check that claims being made by the brand are substantiated and that everything is appropriate for the intended audience. For instance, if the general public weren’t actually allowed to walk on the glass floor at the Spinnaker, we wouldn’t be able to show our actors doing this because that would be false advertising. So one more big deal was getting the piece signed off by Clearcast at each different stage and providing AdStream with the video files in each channel’s own individual technical requirements. If these things don’t happen on time, the client loses money and possibly their advertising slot so it’s definitely a benefit that we already have a relationship with the agencies required in order to get a TV commercial…well…on the TV!


// the results //

The project ran on time and aired nationwide in the first week of August 2015 on ITV and SKY channels.


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