Having produced two sets of light-hearted, comedic video content for the brand previously, in early 2020 Sunderland’s largest taxi firm invited Artifact Media to produce something a bit more emotive.

The mission was to communicate a simple but powerful message: “It’s not about the destination, but the journey.”

After discussing various ideas for how to capture this core brand value in film form, we decided to tell four individual stories of key moments that most of us will or have experienced: new life, first day of school, birthday, and bereavement.

Both the company as a whole and the people within it would be connected to each life stage, ultimately conveying the message that Station Taxis are part of people’s everyday lives and have been since the company’s formation in 1901.

This was a larger-scale production to most of our usual projects, and required a significant amount of planning and preparation upfront. We planned for three days of filming – two consecutive to capture each of the four scenes, and one dedicated to capturing aerial footage of the Sunderland area (more on that below).

Filming permissions were obtained from both Sunderland Council and private owners for a number of “local landmarks” which we knew would be instantly-recognisable to viewers residing in the area, including Sunderland Royal Hospital, Roker Pier, and Sunderland Crematorium.

We combined our own camera equipment with some hired-in gear to enhance the production value of the film as much as possible. This included Canon Cine Prime lenses, Tiffen matte box filters and a wireless video monitoring kit so that Natalie (Marketing Manager for Station Taxis) could view all footage being captured in realtime. We used a crew of six to manage camera operation, lighting and logistics.

Taxi driver Rob – who would be familiar to anyone who had seen our previous Cabpool Karaoke series – was more than happy to join the cast again, alongside a number of new faces.

Our actors were brilliant throughout the two days and brought droves of enthusiasm and energy with them. Their performances felt genuine and unforced, which was aided in no small part by filmmaker Andy Berriman; we did not hesitate in inviting him to help co-direct the shoot, given his wealth of experience working with actors in both theatre and film production environments.

As mentioned, we dedicated one of our three days of filming to capturing aerial footage of the Sunderland area, yet we knew this footage would not be included in the final cut of the narrative advert. We captured it because our rationale was – as always – to extract maximum value out of the project. Thus, we suggested producing a mixture of ancillary video content alongside the narrative ad, which would include drone footage.

Mark Armistead of iSky Unmanned Systems provided exemplary aerial filming services – this wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last time that we work together!

Similarly to the narrative ad, we filmed at local landmarks such as Northern Spire, Penshaw Monument, Wearmouth Bridge and Seaburn Beach. This aerial footage would find its way into several shorter videos which served to accompany the main 2-minute narrative ad across various social media platforms (including paid ad placements).

Station Taxis’ website and branding was undergoing an overhaul around the same time as our production, so the timing couldn’t have been better. We created a short looping video which incorporated both aerial and narrative shots, which became the standout feature on the company’s website, directly embedded into the design of the homepage.

No other private hire firm in the region has this level of high-quality video content taking centre stage on their website.

The results

Despite the overwhelming success of this project’s production, at the last minute we were faced with the UK’s first Coronavirus lockdown. We had intended for the narrative film to release at the end of March 2020, but given the unfolding pandemic it just didn’t seem appropriate. So, we changed tactics and agreed to postpone the film’s launch until a more suitable time.

The film eventually went live at the end of July, along with an accompanying caption that remained true to our original message, but relating more specifically to the effects of the pandemic. In the end we all agreed that actually, despite the disappointment of having our original publication halted, the underlying message of the film actually became more relevant than ever, and we knew that viewers would be able to relate very closely to the core story.

Planning your own narrative-based video ad?

Get in touch and let’s capture your brand’s story on film.

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Alex Wardle
September 2020