5 Strategies to Produce a Flawless MacConnell Award Video

By: Wayne and Holly Paige, Wave One Films

 If you and your team are burning the midnight oil putting the finishing touches on your entry for this year’s James D. MacConnell Award---or you’re breathing a sigh of relief because you just submitted your entry---congratulations and good luck! While you wait to find out whether your firm will be named a finalist, now would be a good time to start thinking about the next phase of the awards process: producing a video explaining the comprehensive planning process your firm used to design your school.

 Many firms that are unfamiliar with video production find the idea of producing a video to be a daunting prospect. But it doesn’t have to be.

 Here are five strategies we used when we produced a video with DOWA-IBI Group about Trillium Creek Primary School, the recipient of the MacConnell Award in 2014.  

 #1: Identify your project’s foundational idea and build your award video around it. The DOWA-IBI Group design team discovered Trillium Creek’s foundational idea during an early community listening session, when a student said he wanted to be the captain of his own learning. The act of listening to---and honoring-- the student voice, coupled with engaging the community around a common purpose and passion, became the theme for the Trillium Creek story.

 #2: Show how people use the space. One of the key areas of Trillium Creek was its open, multi-dimensional library. To illustrate how students used the space, we set up specific scenes with students reading and studying. We also used specialized camera equipment to film different angles of the room. We scheduled our filming before the school year started, in order to minimize disruption for students and teachers.

 #3: Be specific about who talks about what. We conducted nine separate interviews for this story because we needed to capture multiple points of view from key stakeholders. To streamline the story production process and avoid duplicate answers during the interviews, we had each person talk about a specific part of the design process. This strategy helped us build our narrative more quickly because each person focused on telling a specific part of the story.

 #4: Invest in the money shots. If your project features WOW-style design elements that you want to highlight, invest in special camera equipment to bring those features to life in a dramatic way. For Trillium Creek, we used a drone to fly through the interior of the library and outside around the school building. We also used a pole cam jib to film students sitting in the school’s smaller “bird’s nest” reading area on the second floor and sliding down the indoor slide. If you included WOW items in your school design, capture the WOW in your video.

 #5: Extend the life of your award video. When we filmed our interviews, we asked additional questions about how the DOWA-IBI Group team added value to the project. With some minor editing, we turned the award video into a video case study for our client to use in future marketing campaigns. If you own the video assets (and you definitely should!), think about re-editing video clips and interviews to use on social media, blogs, and your firm’s website.

 Here’s the link to The Story of Trillium Creek Primary School. As you watch the story, think about what it would take to produce a video if you were to be named a finalist. Include budget; timeline; video team; scheduling. There’s a lot of pre-planning you can do now, so that if you are named a finalist, you can hit the ground running.