Christmas video 2017 behind the scenes

Dec 18, 2017

Christmas video 2017 behind the scenes

Supporting Children with cancer

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a video from Hanson Zandi. On a freezing cold winter’s day, the team at Hanson Zandi set out to create their 2017 Christmas video for all to enjoy, with aim of raising much needed funds for the Children with Cancer charity .

The plan was to donate £1 for every share of the video on social media (up to £1,000). So, we all knew the stakes were high and like all creative ventures there were a lot of elements that had to be planned and executed to get the final video just right. As the agency newbie, I was given the task of taking a behind-the-scenes look at how our Christmas video was brought to life.

The idea

The idea was to spell out Merry Christmas, one character at a time, in the middle of a large open space, whilst filming the scene from above using a drone camera. So, with that in mind the Art Director set about creating the key props, the giant letter boards. The decision was made to create the letters in bright red, (Pantone® 485) on white poly-card, A1 in size and 2 cm thick. The letter boards had to be big enough to be legible from above, light enough to be easily manoeuvred and yet robust enough to prevent them being whisked away by the chilly November winds.

With the props production in progress, Bex (costume department) went all out to find the best Christmas hats in town to add to the festive feel and more importantly to keep our ears toasty warm during the shoot.

The recce

Two days before the shoot the creative team and myself went in search of the ideal large grassy area, devoid of large trees, dog poo and passing human traffic. Finally, a perfect location was found in Higginson Park Marlow, just 10 minutes from the office and near to at least four decent pubs!

The shoot

So, armed with bobble hats resembling Christmas pudding’s and garish festive jumpers the big day arrived and we ventured down to Marlow riverside to create our own unique take on the traditional season’s greeting. While the team started to arrange the big red letters into order, our Director of photography (DOP), Mike, prepared his kit, a DJI Mavic drone.

Set-up was quick and simple. Mike removed the drone from its carry case, powering it up and synced it with his Smart Phone. The drone was fully charged, giving it an uninterrupted flight time of around 25 mins, which meant we were operating against the clock. The time to start our video had arrived. There were two ideas on how to reveal our Christmas message. The first was to pick up the letters, run and place in order, rather like a tag relay race; while the second idea was to lay the letters out, face down and to run and flip the characters over randomly to reveal the final Merry Christmas. Meanwhile, Mike controlled the drone using a specially designed remote, which integrated with the Smart Phone app, allowing him to view the images from the camera in real time.

Running low on time, we had one final chance to capture what we needed. At the critical point, a dog ran excitedly in and out of shot to check out what was going on. The wind picked up causing havoc with the controls. The cold set in and were starting to lose faith. But like all great productions, the show must go on and the team rallied. Finally, ‘it was a wrap’ both layout options were captured and we lined up, grinned and waved as the drone zoomed in for one last panning shot.


And so, ended the annual Hanson Zandi Christmas shoot 2017. All that was left to do now was pack up and head back to headquarters for a well-earned agency lunch of chicken and avocado sandwiches and fruit on sticks.

Like any shoot, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Post-production is a carefully crafted, painstaking process. There were ups and there were downs (literally), but in the end, we’re very pleased with what we’ve created. We hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed making it. Please ‘like it’ and ‘share it’ on social media. It’s all for a really amazing cause helping support children with cancer, so please share, share, share!

If you also wish to make a one-off donation follow the link here:

So, from all the team at Hanson Zandi, we’d like to say a special thanks to our clients and wish one and all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!