How to Produce an 'Authentic Best' Admission Video

It was such a pleasure to work with Sant Bani School (SBS) these last few weeks to produce an admission video. Not only do my children attend the school, but Sant Bani's mission and methods also resonate with what I believe about education. The school had done some student-produced videos in the past (what I call 'authentic style') but wanted to do a higher quality admission piece that was on message, easily digestible, and relatively evergreen.

Here's how we went about it.

Concept Meeting 
The idea for the video concept came from a story the Director of Admission told me. She was talking to a new family who said, "Our daughter has told us more about what she has learned in the first few days of school than she did all last year in public school." That's quite a claim!

Could we replicate that kind of testimonial on camera? Would it be possible to tell a story around this idea?

At the concept meeting we considered broad topics like audience, messaging goals and desired outcomes. We settled on the following goals:

  • Create a video for prospective lower / middle school parents
  • Express the key idea that at SBS, "kids love going to school"
  • Nature-based and experiential education are central themes at the school
  • The desired outcome was to drive parents to the web site and schedule a tour 
After we settled on the desired outcomes it was time to start thinking about format for the video. 

Video Format 
We knew the video wanted to be in the 'authentic best' style but we needed a few more specifics:

  • Length should be under two minutes so the audience would (hopefully) watch the whole thing
  • We needed parent testimonials
  • We wanted to see children learning interesting things in an interesting environment preferably outdoors 
Once we knew the concept and the format we were ready to schedule filming days.

Filming Session 1
We identified two teachers who were doing interesting things outside in the coming week. Our first filming session was interviewing these teachers around three questions:

  • What will we see / hear / experience during the outdoor projects
  • How do these lessons reflect what you believe about teaching and learning
  • How does the overall mission of the school support this kind of teaching and learning 
Including setup, waiting for teachers to be available, and actually filming, this session took about two hours.

Filming Session 2 
The second filming session was B Roll of the outside classes. Because we had interviewed the teachers first we knew what to expect and tried to capture some of the moments we had heard the teachers talking about from the first session. We got footage of a first grade class studying habitats which we ended up using in the video and additional footage of a third grade class at a vernal pool. We plan to use the vernal pool shots in the next video.

This session took the longest because we didn't want to disturb the flow of the classes. All together we took about three hours to get the shots we needed.

Filming Session 3 
Now we needed parent testimonials. We shot these at the end of the day as parents were picking up their kids so we didn't need to schedule an extra time to get a parent to come to campus. While we were waiting for parents to arrive I was able to get a few extra shots that just kind of happened. The kids sitting under the tree at the end of the video and the apple tree sequence are examples of this kind of shot. We were sure this session would be the hardest. We hoped parents would say what we needed but we didn't want to make it sound too coached or forced. We shouldn't have worried, with a minimum of prompting we got exactly what we were looking for! 

This session took about two hours.

Editing and Revisions
When I really get rolling I can produce a minute of finished video in about an hour. I was a little slower with this piece—I was able to produce a first revision within a day of the third filming session. The school was quick with thoughtful suggestions and feedback so we were able to produce a few more revisions within short order.

Once the video was complete the school published it on its YouTube channel and also embedded the video on the Admission page.

What do you think of the video? Do you have questions about how we produced it? Let us know in the comments! Thanks to Brooke for help editing this article!