Concept, Planning, Props, Styling, Cinematography, On-screen Talent, Editing, Graphics
Okay, I’ll admit it, this project was a lot of fun, even though I almost caught on fire…. twice. In mid-October, the recipe department decided that there should be a push to experiment with holiday-themed content in addition to our regular projects. Instead of starting with Thanksgiving there was a push to squeeze in something for Halloween, so we raced to produce a festive video in the weeks leading up to October 31st.
The first task was coming up with a concept that could be quirky, Paleo, and shot and produced quickly. Additionally, there wasn’t time in the recipe team’s schedule to create anything new, so we’d have to adapt something from our existing library. I came across a recipe for marshmallows with honey as their base sweetener and my mind jumped instantly to s’mores. We had done a video for some delicious and soft coconut flour chocolate chip cookies the previous year that would make a good compliment.
The only thing missing was how to wedge them into the holiday—A COSTUME! Since our main sales demographic was 50-65 y/o women and we were trying to trend down for our content, it seemed like being a bit campy would go over well, so the classic bed sheet ghost would be perfect.
In order to tie the theme to the recipe as well, I got hunted for matching ghost cookie cutters and lucked out finding one that coincidentally doubles as a tulip cutter, presumably for Easter.
Now that the food and costume was decided, the final style and look fell into place nicely. The vintage white-sheet ghost look was made complete in full candle light and complimented the classic flame-kissed marshmallow treat. Sure, It’s no Barry Lyndon, but I thought it would be a fun challenge to light the entire video with only candle light so I bought 100 candles, hoping that’d be enough.
We thought setup would be easy, considering there were no actual lights to account for, but on the day, things proved much more difficult. First, the candles needed to look like they’ve been burning for a long time, so they needed to be in pools of wax and at varying heights, so we went to work trimming them and melting them to the table. I also started whipping up an additional batch of marshmallows, since we wouldn’t have time for them to cool later in the shoot.
The shoot was covered with two cameras. The main camera was parked on a tripod, straight on, giving us continuous wide coverage to cut in and out of while the second camera was shoulder rigged and hand-held allowing us to get details and more interesting angles. Both cameras shot wide open on prime lenses at f/1.4 on vintage Zeiss Contax Yashica glass.
To be honest, the hardest part of the whole shoot was seeing out of the costume’s eye holes. It was hard enough to keep them in the correct place, but what I didn’t think of in advance was the fact that, while cooking, you don’t look forward, but down toward the table, and ghost costumes were NOT made for that. Considering scratch marshmallows are basically culinary napalm, I’m glad I walked away unharmed.
Although the bulk of Paleohacks’ content was optimized for sharing on Facebook, the goal was to produce a longer format piece better suited for YouTube, so we chose to add some more quirky character acting and leave most of the cooking in for a longer final cut. We improvised the final ‘gag’ of the ghost not being able to eat the dessert he worked so hard to create and thought it provided a nice element of family-friendly humor.