Non-profit video helps Erie Neighborhood House raises a record breaking $600,000 at Future of Promise Dinner.

Executive Summary 

This is our 5th project with Erie Neighborhood House and we are so honored to have the opportunity to deepen our work together. Each year we work with Erie House to tell the story of an Erie Neighborhood community member and how the work of Erie House has impacted their lives. We love how Erie uses our videos to raise money, educate potential donors and celebrate their community. This year Erie House wanted to focus on their STEM initiatives for youth starting in preschool and going all the way through to high school. STEM is Science, Technology, and Math. To tell this story Erie selected Alex Roman. Alex is the perfect example of the work that Erie House does. Our fig films director Melissa Fox, wrote the script for the film after meeting and interviewing Alex. The result is Alex Roman, Engineer, a short non-profit fundraising video that wows audiences with both the story of Alex and how Erie House supported him to where he is today. Erie House is one of the few non-profits that books our scripts for EVERY project. The return on that investment is seen almost immediately. 

 BTS of filming with Director Melissa Fox. Photo by Brian Paff, Director of Marketing at Erie House. 

BTS of filming with Director Melissa Fox. Photo by Brian Paff, Director of Marketing at Erie House. 


Challenges 

The first challenge is the script. The beats of the script are written to build to a big reveal about our subject. We talked a lot about how to "wow," our audience with the work that Erie House does. Alex, our subject, learned English at Erie House and took advantage of the programs they offered as a child. We wanted to reveal that he is now the youngest engineer at a large manufacturing company at just the right moment. The audience at the gala cheered during the screening right when we wanted them to. A great example of a script in action. We know that affected their experience of Alex when he came on stage a few moments later to deliver a speech and ask the audience to help him raise money for kids just like him. 

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As a filmmaker, there is no better joy than watching an audience do exactly the thing you wanted them to while watching your work. I am so proud of the process I’ve developed with my fig team over the years. Taking an idea from script to screen with our clients not only helps me live into my mission as an artist but helps me give back to Chicago. The city I grew up in. I am so grateful to Erie House for giving me the chance to grow with them and the confidence of rebooking year after year.
— - Melissa Fox

Not everything makes it to the final cut. Here is a cute outtake from the script that we drafted called, “young Alex.” We wanted something that pulled in the imaginative spirit of Alex in a cute way. So we came up with the idea to see Alex as a kid talking about his plans for something he designed. It turned out so cute but ultimately we cut it for time. It was more important that our audience could follow the story quickly and Erie felt that the young Alex sequence was adorable but stalled the experience. We were sad to see the scene go but excited to share it with you here. 


How our services were used 

This client booked our most popular package for non-profits. 

  • Script Development and Creative Outline, Mood-Board
  • Filmmaking and editing team lead by director Melissa Fox 
  • 5-minute gala film and a 30-second teaser to promote the gala. 
  • This film is used at the event to introduce Alex, who then comes up on stage to give a speech and leads the paddle raise. This formula helps Erie House raise a lot of money at their gala. 
  • After the event the film is used in promotional activities, fundraising efforts and online on social media channels. 

Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans 

 Alex Roman and Executive Director Kirstin Chernowsky at the Future of Promise Awards Dinner. 

Alex Roman and Executive Director Kirstin Chernowsky at the Future of Promise Awards Dinner. 

 Alex Roman giving his speech. 

Alex Roman giving his speech. 

"Our revenue has grown by more than 25% since we first contracted with Fig in 2015," - Brian Paff, Director of Marketing Erie Neighborhood House. 


From the client: 

Each time we have worked with Fig, their team has demonstrated an uncanny ability to listen, generate ideas, welcome feedback, and, at the end of the project, tell a powerful, compelling story through film.

The film Fig produces for us introduces the audience at our annual fundraising gala to the event’s keynote speaker; in our case, a participant or graduate of one of our programs. Year after year, this film has evoked an emotional response from attendees and set the stage perfectly for our speaker to share about the impact Erie House has made on their life. We host a paddle raise auction following the film and keynote speech, and our revenue has grown by more than 25% since we first contracted with Fig in 2015.

Just as important, Fig thinks about the big picture when producing a film. So while we might commission a film specifically for our dinner, it is something that performs well as collateral to share with individual donors, funding partners, volunteers and more for months and years to come.

It’s easy to search for and find a bleeding heart story to tell through film, but one of the things we appreciate most about Fig is the way they have sought to tell stories that reflect the pride and resilience of people in our community. The final product isn’t just something that will tug on the heartstrings of our donors—it’s a film that celebrates the people who make us the strong, vibrant organization we are, inspiring others to join in the work we do.
— Brian Paff, Director of Marketing - Erie Neighborhood House

TEAM 

Executive Producers: James Gustin, Michele Gustin
Writer, Director, Editor: Melissa Fox

CLIENT

Erie Neighborhood House
https://twitter.com/eriehouse
https://www.youtube.com/user/eriehousechicag

Video production crew creates short documentary for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Community Created Performances.

Executive Summary 

Stories and Songs of Chicago is a tour de force community theater program developed my Lyric Unlimited Chicago. Groups in Chicago compete to partake in a 15-week intensive program where they write and perform an original music work at the Harris Theater. Fig was contracted to document the process from beginning to end for the third year in a row. We follow all three finalists through every emotion from application through to final performance and create a film that celebrates the work. This year our groups blew us away with their stories and willingness to share on the stage. The lyric staff and artists take these groups from average citizens and develop them into show-stopping artists on stage. This year Kuumba LynxYOLO Boomers and Blue Rhythms were elected by the public to participate in the program. Our team enjoyed filming the concluding year of the program and are excited about the results. 

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CHALLENGES

Our first challenge was deciding how the budget would be distributed to cover a 15-week program. We spent the first year "defining the program,” this year our client, Alejandra Valerino Boyer, wanted to focus on the emotional journey that our participants went through. Because these groups are learning to become a highly calibrated theatre troupe in a short amount of time, we had to stay flexible for filming dates. Many of the participants have never been interviewed on camera before. Fig Director Melissa Fox spent a lot of time integrating herself into the culture that Lyric built so we became part of the larger team. This helped our groups feel like the videos were a celebration rather than a “to do,” on an already large list of “to do’s,” within the program. 

The first stop on the journey for our groups is with a video interview. Our director is tasked with giving all the groups the best profile they can get within a short time frame. She spends time reviewing each application and creating a line of questioning that shows each group off in the best way while adhering to standards for equality across the board. 

VIDEO PROFILES FOR PUBLIC VOTING 

Next, we developed a plan for documenting the emotional rollercoaster. Our creative focused on faces. We loved the idea of requisite variety with people's faces.

 We filmed a large portion of the participants in slow-motion asking them to show us how they feel. This provided beautiful portraits that showed off the diverse voices and stories as well as the emotional rollercoaster each person was on. 


CREATIVE // MOOD BOARDS 

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^Creative and mood boards for our project. See it in action below. 


FACES & EMOTIONS TEASER 

We spent a week documenting each of the groups, filming rehearsals, conducting interviews and gathering our slow-motion content for the teaser. Integrating into a well-oiled machine is always a challenge. These talent leading the groups to create their own music work has their work cut out for them. With an intense schedule and the challenges of teaching an average citizen to sing, inserting our agenda into theirs is met with a bit of resistance. We were given short bursts of time to grab people and conduct interviews. Pulling people out of an intense rehearsal and asking them to focus on an interview and relax is not an easy task. The Lyric team did a wonderful job introducing us to the artists and the groups, helping our team feel like a part of the larger team. This allowed us to gain trust with our subjects on a deeper level. 

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Next, filming the final performance is always a challenge. Between the union rules within the Harris Theater and staying respectful of a large stage crew that has a big job to do, the fig crew had their work cut out for them. New this year, Melissa Fox spent time backstage during the performance to capture the faces and energy of the participants as they came off the stage. This helped us visually see the transformation of each person. It took weeks to get clearance to film backstage. Our crew had a backup plan on standby in case our request was denied. Ultimately, it all worked out seamlessly. 

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We love Lyric’s community outreach. They do a wonderful job at finding creatives in Chicago to give them opportunities. As artists, we connect deeply with the aspects of storytelling in Opera. Watching the groups transform to tell those stories is the most rewarding part of documenting them. The result is that beautiful stories are artfully displayed for an audience in communities that normally don’t have the spotlight. And rather than hiring artists to tell these stories, Lyric is training the community to be their own voice. We are inspired by this work.
— Fig Producer, Michele Gustin

How our services were used. 

Our client booked a full year of video coverage with a creative package. 

  • Two production dates for video profiles. 
  • Three production dates to tell the story of each group. 
  • One production date to document the final performance. 
  • One production date to capture the final interviews. 

All the above content was cut into multiple deliverables. 

  • Eight online profile videos for the public to vote on. 
  • One Behind the Scenes style film to promote the rehearsal process. 
  • One digital snack teaser to promote the final performance. 
  • One archive of the show in its entirety. 
  • One final wrap up film that includes footage from the entire year. 
  • One B-roll Reel of rehearsals for ABC7 News story. 

Our client used our films in multiple ways. 

  • On all social media platforms. 
  • In blogs talking about the program. 
  • Archive performances were sent to the groups and artists as keepsakes. 
  • They were used in board meetings to present the program to funders.
  • They were used in an exhibition about the program at the Lyric Opera. 
  • Our footage aired in a story about the program on ABC7 News. 

TEAM 

Producer: James Gustin, Michele Gustin
Writer, Director, Editor: Melissa Fox
2nd Camera: Codi Palm

CLIENT

Lyric Unlimited Chicago
Community Created Performances

Lyric Unlimited and Chicago Voices Staff

Cayenne Harris - Director of Lyric Unlimited
Alejandra Boyer - Director of Community Programs
Madeleine Borg - Production Manager
Kaitlin Very - Chicago Voices Coordinator
Songwriter - Mike Przygoda
Director - Jess McLeod
Scriptwriter - Derek Lee McPhatter
Animateur - Jacob Watson
Animateur - Cheryl Coons
Animateur - Sophie Wingland

LINKS
https://twitter.com/LyricOpera
https://www.instagram.com/chicagovoices/
https://www.facebook.com/chicagovoices/


Radio Flyer Celebrates 100th anniversary with an amazing party and fig films captures it in a short event video.

Executive Summary 

Radio Flyer celebrated its 100th anniversary in style and the fig team was on hand to document the event. Amazing vendors all came out to play at the Radio Flyer headquarters bringing in everything from a full marching band, giant replicas of the famous red wagon and a live band performing hit music from the last 100 years. Our event videographers covered the event which culminated in a large fireworks display that could be viewed from inside the event space’s transparent tent. 

 Film Still; Radio Flyer Marching Band 

Film Still; Radio Flyer Marching Band 

Challenges

With so many elements to cover, it became clear to us early on that this job required a crew. The CEO of Radio Flyer wanted to capture both the on-stage elements, the scale of the party and all the elements within the party. We brought in a licensed drone operator, steady-cam operator, and a third camera to cover just the on-stage elements. 

 Film still; dancers perform at the Radio Flyer 100th Anniversary Party 

Film still; dancers perform at the Radio Flyer 100th Anniversary Party 

Even with all the cameras, covering the timeline was a challenge. There were many moving parts that required our team to be in place before they happened. This meant that we needed to educate our client on timing throughout the night to make sure the shot list was covered and to help them understand the logistics of coverage from our perspective. We worked with the event team at BLISS, to make sure we were on target throughout the night. We love the BLISS team! 

Love this, it looks great! Thank you again.
— Renny Pedersen

The fireworks proved to be the most difficult to cover. The smoke from the fire did not clear fast enough to cover the large logo that was to be "a-flame with sparkles.” Even though this was a must-have on our clients wish list, we couldn’t control the weather that night. A light breeze would have been perfect! 

How our services were used

This client booked a three-camera crew for 5 hours, a long form cut of all the footage and a short event highlight cut to music. 

  • One Licensed drone operator 
  • One Stead-Cam Operator 
  • One Lead Filmmaker 
  • Long Form Cut of all footage edited together. 
    • 5 rounds of review to make specific changes and tailor the work. 
  • Short Form Event highlight film cut to music. 
    • 5 rounds of review to make specific changes and tailor the work. 
  • Hard drive loaded with all film files for the client's archive.
    • Rights to use the footage in perpetuity. 

TEAM 

Producer: Megan Taylor, James Gustin, Michele Gustin
Lead Camera: James Gustin
Steadycam: Carl Wiedman
Drone: Troy Walsh, Drone Media Chicago
Stage Camera: Codi Palm
Long Form Edit: Nicholas Sanchez
Short Form Edit: Melissa Fox

CLIENT

Radio Flyer
https://www.radioflyer.com
CEO: Robert Pasin

BLISS
http://blissevent.com/about/
Planner: Renny Pedersen
Design: Jesse Deckard
Entertainment: Wrap it Up Events

LINKS
https://twitter.com/radioflyer
https://www.instagram.com/radioflyerinc/
https://www.facebook.com/radioflyer