When Brinkmann Constructors hired our team to write, shoot and produce a safety video that would be unlike any other safety video, we knew there would be a lot of challenges along the way.
For starters, there was a lot of information that had to be delivered – and delivered in an attention-getting, impactful way. But there was a lot more to it than that. This video was designed to tell a powerful story.
It’s the first video I’ve been involved in where we actually staged a death – and we needed to pull that off in a believable way.
A construction worker was going to die – all because another worker could have stepped in and said something – but failed to do so. As a result of one worker’s inaction – another fellow worker would fall to his death. Chaos would ensue. There would be a funeral to attend.
And it was all totally preventable – a point that is easily demonstrated in the second half of the video where we see the worker step in and do something about a potentially dangerous situation.
We had the makings of a powerful story, directly tied to two different poems that we would see unfold, line by line to make a powerful lasting impression on the construction workers who would view this video as part of their overall Brinkmann Constructors safety orientation before any project work ever began.
Long before the shoot days ever arrived, we needed to narrow down the script that I had written – my first draft was 19 pages long and timed out to about a 23-minute video. That was a little too much. So working with Tim Myatt, Safety Director at Brinkmann as well as Miranda Hill, Preconstruction Coordinator, we eventually got the script down to a manageable 14 pages which we figured would end up being about 18-20 minutes long.
Still, that’s a long video – and we had a lot going on throughout. OSHA requirements, worker’s rights, hazardous material recognitions, individual worker responsibilities, safety gear and specific, on-site safety precautions all needed to be covered.
Once the script had been finalized, Mike Martin and Michelle Anselmo of Mike Martin Media developed a shot list. We proposed two days of shooting on location at two different sites, a shoot inside and outside of a funeral home and two different shoots at their production facility to capture some green screen footage featuring safety gear along with capturing a closing message delivered by Brian Satterthwaite, President of Brinkmann Constructors.
I didn’t know if two days would be enough for the on-site footage. But I also had never seen Mike and his talented crew in action before. They were the very definition of a run and gun offense. There were two cameras in use throughout, one to capture the principal action, the other for B-roll footage and to provide another angle for key scenes.
Day One was slated to capture all of the dialogue of the safety coordinator who is the central character delivering the Brinkmann safety story. We shot on-site at an actual Brinkmann Construction project – all during a normal construction day. That in itself took a great deal of coordinating on behalf of Tim and Miranda.
Matt Deichmann, the actor we had chosen to play the Safety Coordinator, was a natural. Reading from a teleprompter isn’t always easy – but he pulled off the dialogue like he’d been doing safety orientation overviews his entire career. When the 10-hour shoot day wrapped, I was amazed. We had pulled it all off without a hitch.
Matt Deichmann was very convincing in his role as Brinkmann Constructors’ Safety Coordinator.
The second on-location day was at a different site and though there wasn’t as much to shoot, the challenges were perhaps more daunting. We needed to coordinate the arrival of fire trucks and ambulances. We needed to realistically stage a fall from a second story ledge into a collection bin below. And we needed to stage essentially the exact same situation, only this time, the danger would be averted. There was B-roll footage to grab as well.
Staging the actual fall involved some creativity and Mike and his crew were up to the task. They shot the scene from below. And they shot the scene from behind the worker, looking out over the second floor. Some tight close ups of the worker’s construction boot slipping and the camera almost dropping down into the storage bin below all eventually showed up in the final edit.
Several shots in sequence helped convey the potential fatal consequences of not being tied down when working anywhere near an opening on a construction site that’s on a second story or higher.
Having an ambulance and fire truck arrive on the scene helped create an air of authenticity.
The Chesterfield Fire Department provided a fire truck and an ambulance to help make a more convincing scene showing the aftermath of a fatal fall at a construction site – a key element to the safety video.
Ultimately, there was more than three hours worth of footage from the two job site days. The afternoon spent at the funeral parlor, staging a funeral with visitors and family members and the worker who could have saved a life that day also went off without a hitch.
Ted Quinn portrayed the superintendent who failed to take action and had to deal with the pain of attending a fellow worker’s funeral.
Finally, there were the two shoots at Mike Martin Studios. The green screen was the perfect backdrop to the graphics we later created, helping tie-in to the new brand look being launched for Brinkmann Constructors.
Overall, we had everything we needed to make a great video. And it wouldn’t have happened without total cooperation from everyone involved – from the production team, to the city of Chesterfield, to the paid actors, right on down to all the extra Brinkmann workers and even family members who volunteered to be a part of the production.
This is the second of three blogs regarding this project for Brinkmann Constructors. BloodLines Creative works in partnership with a variety of creative resources. If you’re looking to tell a story via video, or have any other marketing communications needs, we can assemble the team ideally suited to get the job done – on time, on budget and with big idea thinking delivered in an impactful way.