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CONTENT: WHY IT’S EMMY® WORTHY (PT 3/4)

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Expert Guide to Storytelling
In our Emmy® nomination announcement, we explained that nominees are judged and awarded on the basis of creativity, content, and execution. In this four-part series, we’re going behind the scenes of each nominated piece to highlight one of those elements. In part two, we highlighted the creativity of the Project ACT NOW commercial campaign, Clean Out Your Cabinets, Clean Up the Community. Continuing this series, we take a look at the powerful content of Own It, a video developed for Hagerstown Unite that was nominated and won an Emmy® in the category of single spot commerical.

Video Content That Connects – Goals & Audiences

The organizations and businesses behind Hagerstown Unite wanted a video that would get people excited about the city’s future. The goal of the video was to motivate local citizens to support and participate in upcoming improvements. The client’s original concept for the video followed the traditional pattern for economic development videos – using interviews with key government and city officials to communicate the vision. While this approach can be effective, the video team at HighRock proposed to go a slightly different direction – using everyday faces and places to tell the story of Hagerstown’s past, present and future. As an agency located in downtown Hagerstown, HighRock wanted to develop a piece that was authentic and personal; something that would resonate with the people who live and work in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Combining Content Sources – Modern & Historical

The team wanted to capture as many aspects of Hagerstown as possible and knew it would be challenging to coordinate all of the shots. For that reason, the storyboarding process before filming was critical. The vision for the piece was a mix of historical, industrial, and modern content. In order to give the film good depth and breadth, we wanted a lot of diversity in the types of shots included.

For the vintage pictures of Hagerstown, we worked with the Washington County Historical Society. To generate excitement, we chose landmarks and locations that people would easily recognize. We also chose to include a lot of handheld portrait shots of locals. Some people we coordinated with ahead of time, and others we ran into on the street and filmed on the spot. These spontaneous sessions provided exciting new leads for places or local businesses to film.

Unique Composition – Custom Music Content

The film was styled as a music video, so we knew sourcing the right soundtrack would be critical to the overall feeling of the film. Roland Bingaman, Lead Cinematographer, wanted something that sounded peppy but would still hit hard. Digging through all of the music sources we have available, he still couldn’t find what he was hearing in his head. As a talented musician in addition to film artist, Roland decided to score the music himself. Once the score was composed, the team collaborated with Spencer Jackson, a local hip-hop artist and lifelong Hagerstown-resident, to contribute a spoken word element and help write a script to match the shots lined up in the storyboard. Together, they created a custom soundtrack that drove the entire piece, from incorporating a local high school drumline, to matching lyrics with historical photos, to weaving in futuristic renderings of downtown Hagerstown.

In the end, the finished piece was a powerful video that resonated with locals, spread quickly via social media, and served as an attention-grabbing tool for economic development gatherings.

It’s the powerful combination of visual and audio content that made this piece Emmy® worthy, and also gave our team a chance to offer a fresh take on a common concept. Check more of our series, Why It’s Emmy® Worthy, where we go behind the scenes of creativity and execution.

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