Working for the Harvest / Working with Ken

It seems like most of the projects I get to work on are pieces with a quick turn around. The film industry as a whole has become so accessible that clients often expect high quality productions in a fraction of the time it used to take. Sometimes, it can feel as though I’m being smothered by the deadlines and my creatively held back by the pace. Working for the Harvest, and its long form schedule, was a much needed breath of fresh air.

We met with Kenneth Stephenson in December of 2013 to discuss the idea of producing a film that he could use to promote himself as a financial advisor by the end of 2014. We knew that this process would be somewhat delicate, as from a legal perspective, you can’t use any customer experience interviews to promote a financial entity. So we went to the drawing board and started to concept the best way to tell promote Complete Financial. However, the more we talked with Ken, the more we realized that just telling Ken’s story would be the best way to promote his business.

When we met with Ken for Pre-Production he started to talk to us about growing up on the farm. He enamored us with tales of early morning, hard work, and dedication to family. As I sat there trying to find ways to adequately capture the emotion that he was sharing, the concept for the opening sequence was born. I knew that we needed that warm autumn sky as the sun was just breaking over the horizon. But that would mean that we would have to wait several months to capture the scene. I don’t know about you, but waiting to capture a beautiful sequence that you’ve envisioned for a long time is torture. Well we worked the footage that needed to be captured throughout the spring and summer. We traveled the country, from Maine to California to create the national feel this piece needed. Discussed story elements, shot interviews here in Raleigh and in Virginia, created scores, even graded large segments of the piece, but always in the back of my mind was the sequence that had to wait.

Finally, October came. The leaves had all changed, the mornings were cold, the time had come. So on an early morning, we loaded our gear out into an empty corn field and waited for the sun to come up. As a filmmaker, I often have higher expectations of what a shot will look like than is actually reality. But sometimes, on very special occasions, a shot is exactly like I see it in my head. This was one of those moment. The sun lit the horizon as Ken walked, axe in hand, silhouetted against the sky. It epitomized the story that was to come, and appropriately work to explain the very essence of Complete Financial. After putting a lot of thought and preparation into this shot, it created the look and feel we needed for the piece. Conversely, as Ken put thought and preparation into his clients finances, he was able to secure their financial futures.

I look forward to working with Ken again in the future, and hope that we can create great visuals together for many years to come. Do you have example of shots that came out just the way to envisioned them in your head? Share a link in the comments below.

Peter