590films has been working with Deerfield Academy for over six years and through countless projects. Our videos have helped this elite secondary school raise millions of dollars and reach thousands of potential new applicants. We are particularly proud of the work we did to conceive a new approach for their admissions materials in 2014-15, a visual style that complimented the school’s new direction in curriculum and program.
Deerfield Academy is a favorite client. They give us a ton of creative freedom and are open to new ideas, but they also collaborate closely, provide a lot of support, and maintain high standards that encourage our very best work.
In 2014, Deerfield sought to revamp all of its admissions materials. The outdated assets no longer reflected the school’s progressive curriculum, with its focus on innovation, collaboration, project-oriented learning, resilience, creativity and STEAM subjects.
Early in the redesign process, we watched hundreds of videos — advertisements, other boarding schools’ admissions videos, student art projects, feature films, documentaries, you name it — to come up with a look and feel that might best reflect a school that wanted to brand itself as a place of modern, progressive scholarship and a culture of innovation driven by a community of learners. Working with Deerfield's communications team, we settled on a combination of two main styles. The first is a self-consciously “DIY” handheld mode that evokes the way Deerfield encourages student-generated projects, collaboration (in this case between camera and subject), creativity, and grit. The second is a stylized motif of students looking straight into the camera holding a project that represented their best work. We called the latter shots — and, eventually, the entire campaign — “Show Your Work,” again focusing on student-generated projects, innovation, creativity, and rigor.
We then spent three “research” days on Deerfield’s campus, roaming the classrooms, interviewing students, and capturing test footage. Over three previous years working at Deerfield, we had developed good relationships with the faculty and gained a strong sense where the most exciting learning was happening. We sought out dynamic students and a range of interesting “work” taking place across the campus, from math to sculpture to French to field hockey. We then edited together a sample video for the communications and admissions offices to review.
The visual style, themes and even some of the students we identified in that first video became the launching point for much of the print and web pieces generated.
What followed that year were a series of tightly orchestrated shoots that included long production days, countless interviews, hundreds of hours of b-roll, and all kinds of weather. We produced one “overview” video and ten short videos for the first round of materials. The following year, we produced another thirteen videos to highlight the sports programs at Deerfield, and this year we are creating another four videos. In the meantime, we also have produced three TEDx events for the school.