School Promo Video

This school promo video is for Heathfield School in Ascot, UK.
It is one of the most famous independent girl’s schools in the UK with alumni that include Princess Alexandra, Sienna Miller and Jasmin LeBon. It is a small school and until recently it was exclusively boarding, believing that the girls’ education was uniquely enhanced by their living together in close quarters with many activities organised well beyond the conventional curriculum.
We were briefed to produce a landing page video after a presentation we made to a large number of independent schools in Central London, alongside Google and Microsoft. The headmistress, Jo Heywood, had already made a number of changes to the school making it less of a “finishing school” and more academic.
She asked us to break the mould of school video productions and this we certainly did. Her enthusiasm for the project was expressed simply. She told her team that “whatever Chris wants to make this shoot work, please give it to him”. This extended to allowing us to use food dye in the school swimming pool, build camp fires and organise filming of the school’s polo team at the nearby Royal Berkshire Polo Club.
The polo shoot was particularly important for this school promotional video. The school team play at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and this attracts attention from horse-mad girls aged 8-11. Part of the brief was to appeal directly to girls of this age so they could “buy into” the school and act as a positive influence on their parents. We knew polo is an exciting sport but the effect of this is greatly diminished if shot from the sidelines. Far better to be film from the rider’s saddle, accompanying the horses at close quarter and at full gallop.
We chose to shoot this scene using the lightest camera possible – a GoPro mounted to the end of a polo mallet. The horses would be familiar with such an object held close to their hooves and so wouldn’t shy away. We asked one of the UK’s top stunt riders, Andy Butcher, to act as cameraman and he tested the GoPro system at his stables in Suffolk. Andy has worked as stuntman on a number of top feature films, from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight/Batman.
Polo horses tire quickly so we only had one hour to get all of the shots we needed. Luckily a low sun came out, allowing us to shoot into the light adding a spectacular mood, all for a few second’s-worth of footage.
Other innovative ideas were tried out and tested at our studios prior to shooting days. These were ideas that had never been seen before in videos for schools. Mounting the camera to a tea tray was particularly effective to get a very low-level gliding shot over the school lawns and indoors, carpets. We tested the effect of dropping enamel paint into a fish tank, projecting images onto the girls’ faces and bouncing globes into the air around a trampolinist.
The final result is a school video that has been acknowledged to be one of the most innovative ever seen in the education sector.
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