- Shmuel Hoffman
The Evol-ution of Summer Camps
Eight years ago, we were approached by Camp Morasha in order to fulfill a longterm marketing campaign. Three years later we were commisioned to produce a commercial campaign for their 50th anivesary. We produced 13 films in that very year and it was a huge success. Together with hiring a new camp director, it gave them a huge growth spurt unseen and unimagined before.
But today my post is not as it usually is about how to grow a brand. Today it‘s about how far we have come in producing image and commercial films for brands like summer camps, automakers, publishers, universities, and private schools.
When we started out with Camp Mesorah, the DSLR revolution was in full swing. Do you remember that? Beforehand we would shoot on video cameras that gave us terrible color, horrendous resolution and fixed, boring-looking zoom lenses.
Then DSLR still cameras from Canon came out that we just „abused“ and used as video cameras because of their large sensors, color rendition and interchangeable lens system. And of course because of the amazing high definition video mode.
So, we started to invest in DSLR all the way and produced camp commercial films for Camp Morasha, Camp Kaylie, Camp Yavneh, Camp Tamarack, Oak Crest, Camp Pine Grove, and Camp Mesorah.
While we were still on DSLR cameras a few years later, the video digitization moved to Hollywood, and the RED One Camera was born for cinema movies. Those cameras started at about $50,000 for just the camera body itself.
While I loved those cameras, they were not even close to reachable for me and the work that I was pursuing, as you can imagine. The jump from a $3,000 to a $50,000 camera was just not feasible.
So, we continued producing for our private school clients, some Lexus ads and a bunch of Summer camp clients every year.
The RED Epic camera was introduced 2 years later. But while the RED One camera became cheaper it was still out of reach.
So, I lost track of RED and about 3-4 years later, a friend of mine approached me and asked if I was interested in buying his RED Epic Mysterium camera package.
Since our business had grown a lot, we wanted to up the game seriously. I bit the bullet and invested in the RED camera system by buying that very camera from my friend.
So, in the midst of a big Camp Mesorah campaign, we used for the first time this camera system. The difference between filming on cameras like a DSLR or Micro 4/3 camera system and a RED camera system is staggering. Now I was able to offer my nonprofit clients the stories and images from high-end commercial films and blockbuster movies like “The Hobbit”, “Avengers”, “13 Hours” and many more that were shot on RED cameras.
Now, you might ask: How is this relevant to me and my camp?
See, the budgets for advertising in this market of educational and non-profit brands is of course much less than for cinema films. For the most part the budgets afford you the cheap videographers that usually still shoot for the most part on DSLR cameras.
But we wanted to make a statement for our clients - not just through extraordinary storytelling and commercial concepts - we wanted to wow their audiences with footage and images that they haven’t seen from our clients' competitors.
When it comes to summer camps, the most distinguishing factors after price are what a camp offers, and what it looks like BEFORE the kids ever get there; most people will not make the schlepp to a faraway sleepaway camp to check it out in person before signing up for the summer.
So a camp needs to present itself in the most beautiful and exciting light so it attracts families and kids in a way that they feel like they just have to come for the summer, even without having ever set foot on the campground.
In order to do this, you have to stand out. And for the brands we work with, it has paid off because their commercial ads look and feel different since we shoot their work and their camp on RED cinema cameras. And their audiences feel and respond to that.
Every summer camp we’ve worked with has become the market leader in either its niche, and/or its location.
Obviously a camera alone is not enough, but if everything else is equal, then it makes a huge difference because people are used to gorgeous images from movies, social media, online and overall video presentations. The bar has been set much higher today than even 5-7 years ago, and we are determined to stay on top of the trends.
Shooting on RED has made all the difference. Too many camps have a look that screams "OUT OF DATE." Our goal is to stop that entropy.
The word love is in the word evolution. We put a lot of love into our work - our love for our clients, our love for people, and our love for good visual work. Our camp clients also love their campers and work above and beyond to make the BEST experiences for campers and their families, year after year. Love fuels evolution; it keeps us dedicated to making you love what you do and how we present your awesome work, so that more and more campers want to experience that dedication that camp staff puts year-round into those 7-8 weeks of summer camp.
This year, it's going to be epic. Again.