Promotional videos for theatrical productions are usually overseen, and sometimes recorded, by the theatre companies themselves. For its upcoming production, John & Beatrice, starring Jenna Sokolowski and Eric Messner, Hub Theatre’s Artistic Director Helen Pafumi placed her complete trust for the making of this critical marketing component in the hands of K Street-based video producers GVI and its Creative Director Bob Burnett. The result of the combustion of talents from both companies is one of the most beautifully recorded and affecting promo videos we’ve seen.
GVI, whose client list includes the Smithsonian, the National Holocaust Museum and U.S. Conference of Mayors, is, nonetheless, no stranger to performance-related documentaries. “We’ve produced videos for The Folger Shakespeare Library as well as VSA Arts for several decades… [and] a documentary short called ‘The Making of Carmen’ with The Washington Ballet,” Burnett told us. It was Hub sponsor Booze Allen Hamilton which convinced GVI to become involved with the small Fairfax-based theatre company.
Tell us about recording the video:
“For The Hub we did what we always do—stay out of the way, let people be themselves and let the action happen and simply be there to capture it,” Burnett said.
Hub couldn’t afford to take time outside their already tight rehearsal schedule for the recording; performers took a brief break for interviews, then went back to work. “Using a single camera, (David Krupin) we shot the interviews in about an hour total. I doubled as field producer and soundperson for the rehearsal footage, which was shot in roughly an hour.”
We asked director Helen Pafumi what the process was like from her point of view:
Bob Burnett, and the folks at GVI made the whole process so easy and unobtrusive. We had a phone meeting to discuss the concept and so that I could fully understand the level of engagement. We were very sensitive to the fact that the actors would be really rehearsing, so we needed to respect that they were still in ‘discovery’ mode. Both GVI and I were mindful of keeping the actors comfortable and allowing rehearsal to move ahead as normal.
“GVI completely understood our process. They are true pros. They arrived early to load in equipment, set up the shots, and get a feel for the layout of the theatre. Bob conducted our interviews in a casual, conversational, and painless way. After the interviews, we began our scheduled rehearsal, and the camera crew simply moved around us. They are amazing at keeping close and quiet, but allowing the action to go on undisturbed.”
Did it affect your rehearsal that day?
“At first it seemed odd to have this camera shooting during a working session, but we quickly forgot they were there and proceeded with the work at hand.”
Success is highly dependent on what happens in the editing room. “I worked closely with editor Alison Ray Cavanagh and in about a day and a half we had a project ready for screening.” Burnett added.
‘Love’. It’s a word that everyone mentioned when talking about John & Beatrice. “We love theatre. It’s story-telling, which is what we do as documentary makers–but in a different medium.” Burnett told DCTS. “Beatrice believes that love has come to save her.” Sokolowski says. “This is the second show I’ve done at Hub”, Messner says, “a place I have come to love.”
So take a camera crew with state of the art equipment into a space where artists are doing extraordinary work, add editors with the talent and empathy to cull a 2 hour session into 2:55 compelling minutes, add love, and what you get will look very much like what you see below.
Hub Theatre’s production of John & Beatrice by Carole Fréchette opens April 13 and runs thru May 5, 2012 at the John Swayze Theatre, 9431 Silver King Court, Fairfax, VA.
Details and tickets