Video Production: Thinking Outside the Box

Blog Entry 3.8 [ print | web | video | illustration ]

How do you produce a video when you have little footage to work with, a limited budget and you can’t reveal the identity of the central character?  It’s not easy, but that’s the challenge we were facing when we put together “Maya’s Story.”

Our client, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, approached us to make a video to help raise awareness about Human Trafficking. Each year thousands of men, women and children are trafficked illegally into the United States. Few Americans are aware of the issue.

LIRS wanted us to create the video based on the true story of a 12-year girl from Honduras. Our client had one request – because of the sensitivity of the subject matter – we would need to change her name and absolutely no faces would be able to be used in the video.

Obviously, not being able to show faces is difficult, but we also had a limited budget which meant there would be no funds for location shoots.

We were forced to think outside of the box.

Our initial idea was to use stock photography. But we were not thrilled with the video having a static feel (apologies to Ken Burns). We wanted some movement to give a sense that the story was about an actual person.

That’s when we decided to use the green screen. By creating virtual environments, we were able to have someone play the part of Maya, while still creating beautiful backgrounds that represented the various locations.

As you can see from the picture below, we were able to accomplish all of that and we didn’t have to leave the comfort of our studio.


We also got online and searched for stock video. We were able to track down a number of shots that were effective – specifically of the border – that still kept us under budget and provided much needed footage.  Finally, we headed out locally to collect abstract shots of things like railroad tracks or kids playing on a playground that could be incorporated into the video.

It definitely was not a conventional video to put together, but by thinking outside the box we were able to create an effective piece for our client.