We’ve been quiet on the old blog over the past two weeks as we’ve been busy, busy, busy. Busy with work, busy with family visits, busy with birthdays – all the good kinds of busy. A byproduct of keeping our noses to the grindstones is that when we finally lift our heads, we see work from months ago launched as planned, and quickly taking on a life of its own. One such project from earlier this summer recently finished running its course, and we are so proud now to share it here in its entirety: seven video shorts with accompanying portraits and photo shoot.
One of the first places we visited when we first launched this blog was The Raw Carrot, and we were so impressed with its mission and humanity that we wrote about it. We kept in touch with Colleen, a co-founder of the soup business that employs people with barriers to traditional employment. When we visited last winter, Colleen knew all too well that the weather would soon change and folks wouldn’t be so inclined to eat soup. She and her staff needed a way to stay top of mind with customers during the hotter season.
During this same time period, Colleen savvily observed that The Raw Carrot’s performance on social media had somewhat plateaued, with their Facebook page hovering around 300 likes. On the back of this solid loyal base, a social media campaign could boost the non-profit’s visibility and create an enduring connection to the business over the summer months, highlighting The Raw Carrot’s mission and specifically, the humans behind the mission. Whatever content was created could be released slowly over the several weeks that are typically the slowest in soup sales.
We decided a series of video interviews with employees, along with headshot portraits and a photo shoot of the soup making process, would tell just the right story to capture the community’s interest. We collected and edited videos and photography for The Raw Carrot as a glimpse into the people behind the mission, who they are, what they do, and why they do it.
Interviewing employees (as anywhere) required some planning. To capture the employees’ authentic personalities, interactions and emotions, we needed to somehow eliminate the intimidation factor of the camera. Well aware of how cameras somehow turn the warmest, most charismatic people into robots, we knew how imperative it was that we approached each personal interview with the same honesty and warmth we hoped to achieve in the videos.
With Colleen’s guidance, we whittled down a long list of interview questions to a sweet shortlist of the most sincere. We toured the venue ahead of time, noting and planning for the working kitchen’s harsh light and confined quarters. And then we spent the first part of our filming day getting to know the first names of all the staff, snapping them at work, interacting with each other, and observing their characters. All this became useful when it came to drawing out a story from each individual during the one-to-one interviews.
Additionally, we attempted to embody the same work ethic as The Raw Carrot. We were especially sensitive toward accommodating the staff’s busy lives, returning for a second, unplanned day to ensure no one was excluded and to collect video of staff who had been missing our initial day of filming. This was also an opportunity to take some of our favourite b-reel shots – sharpening knives, chopping carrots – those mundane details that add poetry and authenticity to a video.
We love how sweet, hopeful, and innocent these stories are. We love the community each person spoke of that has been built with The Raw Carrot’s kitchen walls. A supportive camaraderie clearly showed itself in the videos, a quality that was a privilege to capture, something you only get from real people and never from actors. That is the beauty of documentary videos and photography.
“Connection. A real connection to people you know won’t turn their backs on you. You can always count on them.” –Lori
Technically, the videos were challenging to piece together. In most interview settings, meandering conversations (which are most natural) require extensive edits to tell a single, compelling and impactful story. We did this for each staff member we interviewed, stitching videos and words together into narratives we hoped would convey the loveliness of The Raw Carrot’s mission. We expanded on the beautiful branding work done for The Raw Carrot by another local agency, Blueprint, helping it come alive through some very simple animation.
Colleen loved how down-to-earth the final videos felt, how very comfortable, happy, open and honest each of the staff members were. We were grateful for their courage in front of the camera and hoped we helped create final pieces they were proud to be a part of.
The videos accumulated over 20 thousand views on Facebook along with hundreds of comments of encouragement and support. The Raw Carrot Facebook page has doubled its likes over the course of summer and more importantly the soup is now stocked at more local vendors and reaching a larger audience. We’re so happy to see good changes happening with The Raw Carrot, and looking forward to seeing their good message spread further!
Check out all the videos over here on Vimeo.