School Promotional Videos

What should every independent school marketer look for when commissioning their school promotional video?
This school promo video is for Godstowe School in High Wycombe, UK.
Godstowe is almost unique amongst the independent school sector. It is a girls-only prep school, with a large proportion choosing to board there. It was the school used by Enid Blyton as inspiration for her famous “Mallory Towers” books and anyone visiting is struck immediately by its homely and charming atmosphere. Headmaster David Gainer was recently voted “Prep School Headmaster of the Year” by the influential Tatler Good School Guide and his ethos is that girls of this age will not learn unless they are having fun.
Clearly this succeeds because many of the girls gain scholarships to some of the best senior schools in Britain, from Wycombe Abbey to Downe House. This is all the more impressive when you realise that none of the girls are admitted on a selective basis: everyone starts there equally.
David Gainer briefed us after seeing our school video for Heathfield School. Again it took some time to develop the brief and creative approach that would be right for this particular school video production.
What was immediately obvious to us was the highly-distinctive school uniform. The girls all wore beautiful black capes with bright red lining. They looked like extras from a Scottish Widows TV ad and we knew these had to be featured. Then a storyline unfolded that sprang from a small incident that we witnessed at school assembly. All of the girls entered the school hall quietly and sat in dead straight rows. Excited chatter died away as David started on his theme of the day. You could hear a pin drop as hundreds of small faces gazed in rapt attention. He asked some to comment on what he was saying and eager hands shot into the air, keen to join in. We had seen certain scenes in films like Terry Gilliam’s “The Fisher King” where a random crowd suddenly breaks into a beautifully-choreographed dance. These girls were confident enough to take on anything and we knew that if we could capture this self-discipline, we would have a remarkable school promotional video.
So we developed a small number of shapes that the girls could form whilst dancing, shot from above. This meant that seventy of the girls would have to learn to waltz. Meanwhile we tested how to project these shapes onto the floor. A smiley face, a light bulb, a heart. All of them had to be drawn anamorphically (distorted) so when projected from a scaffold tower they would appear in their true form when seen by a camera mounted vertically above.
The girls then had to stand exactly on this shape on the floor and then dance away. When played backwards it looked as if everyone was dancing with partners but then suddenly assumed the shape.
Other ideas used included someone bringing unruly algebra to order with a conductor’s baton, cutting through a thorny tangle of long words with slashes of a pen and calming a stormy sea of faces with the pure power of oratory.
Once again we created video for a school that was completely unique.
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