With thousands of videos uploaded daily, how did Laura Lehmann—the Philippines' candidate for the 2017 Miss World pageant—manage to get her introduction video to stand out? Authenticity, apparently, played an important role. “It was all about being honest: to showcase the beauty of Lau and the country in the best way possible,” shares Ronald Rillo, Creative Director of Culture Shock Productions, the production house behind Lau's captivating video.
“We already had an opportunity to work with Lau when she became our host for Listed,” says Ronald. “The rapport was already there, so, Lau trusted us to do her video.” After a quick meeting, both parties agreed that the video was to be a representation of both Lau and the Philippines. Being a production house whose expertise is in both short form and longform videos, Ron knew that the video had to be bitesized. “It has to be short, quick, beautiful: something that you would remember straightaway,” he reveals, “She had to standout from out from the rest of candidates. And more importantly, what can you say in two minutes?”
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This kind of storytelling needed something more current, a voice that would resonate with Lau's generation. Thus, Ron decided to look outside his production team for creative execution. “I thought of tapping content creators,” he says. “They're very now.” He sought the help of Kyrke Jaleco, an online content creator for big brands like Air Asia and Globe Telecom, to take the directorial reins. Having worked extensively on travel highlights and vignettes, Kyrke would provide a different energy to the video concept that Ron envisioned. “Pag travel, run and gun talaga dun,” confides Kyrke, “My style is very fast paced, dynamic.”
After collaborating with Ron on the concept of the video, Kyrke's idea was to create a video that was social media-friendly: “Yung composition ko, parang Instagram photo pero done through video: very natural, very candid, hindi pilit.” With this move, the team took a huge risk by veering away from the traditional beauty pageant video format. “We had to consider the fact that the Philippines, as a country, is so patriotic when it comes to beauty pageants,” confides Ron, “May pressure din, 'cause we are both not from that industry, tapos kelangan maganda and maayos yung video. Otherwise, you'll get the harshest criticisms from the fans.”
With these in mind, the team set out to accomplish the video within constricting parameters. “We wanted to have three days to shoot but Lau could only afford to give us one,” confides Ronald. “And, we had to submit it in four days.” It was a matter of making do with what they had. “Culture Shock was very lucky to have worked with Lau,” said Ron, “We had existing footage of her in different parts of the Philippines from her previous show with us.” But, Ron still felt that the materials were not enough to showcase how beautiful the country was. Luckily, Kyrke had archived footage of scenic Philippine locations of his own that blended seamlessly with the ones from the Culture Shock material bank. To augment these, the team also needed to film Lau in different locations to provide more texture. “Kelangan ko ng nature, urban, and rooftop settings para may contrast yung travel footage,” said Kyrke.
A single day to shoot in three different locations requires careful scheduling and planning. But, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. First, there is the tendency of creativity to get the best of you. For instance, during the first scene, Kyrke overlooked the schedule that Ron implemented. “'Pag marami kang gusto, hindi mo mamamalayan yung oras. I had a lot of shots in mind na gusto kong gawin kaya nag extend kami sa Sofitel,” laughs Kyrke, “Doon na medyo na cramp na yung time for the next two scenes.” Next, there was a mixup in locations. “Mali kami ng address na napuntahan para sa helipad,” laughs Ron, “From BGC, lumipad kami papuntang Pasong Tamo habang nakikita mo na ang araw na lumulubog.” It was a mad dash to the finish line. “Pag dating namin doon, rachada kami,” laments Ron, “We only had 30 minutes to shoot that final shot of Lau. Ang dilim-dilim na.” Things worked out to their favor, in the end. “For some reason, ang ganda nung kulay ng sky,” reminisces Ron, “That day was supposed to be rainy. Right after we packed up for the day, saka bumuhos ang ulan.”
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For soundbites, they formulated key questions that Lau answered during the shoot. “It was a challenge because it was my first time to have a host sa video. I had to switch things up from my usual flow,” confessed Kyrke. “Kelangan mabilis eh, dapat maisip mo agad yung shots na magli-link sa words na sinasabi niya.” Fortunately, Lau and Kyrke were able to quickly forge a working rapport, despite working with each other for the first time in this project. “Walang kahirap-hirap katrabaho si Lau,” confided Kyrke, “Madali siyang kausap. We worked really well together.” Having worked as a wedding and fashion photographer previously also helped Kyrke capture Lau's ethereal beauty to perfection. “Ibang klase ang itsura ni Lau on cam. Boom,” exclaims Ron, “Kahit anong angle, ang ganda lang niya, grabe.”
To date, Lau's video has been hailed as one of the best introduction videos of the Miss World competition, going viral almost from the hour that it was released. Ronald and Kyrke share that their focus was never about hitting the big numbers, only to create a video that would best represent Lau. Ronald adds what they really focused on was making a great video that engages its target audience. “As with any viral video, you can never plan it,” relates Ron, “It was all about setting it up and hoping for the best.”
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Photographs from Ronald Rillo and Kyrke Jaleco