18.04.2023|By Daniel Mendoza|7 Minutes

In late 2020 we collaborated with Visit Phoenix on a project to try and help the city of Phoenix land the 2026 NCAAW Final Four Tournament. It was during the COVID pandemic so what the organization would usually do in person by hosting the committee in charge of selecting the host city, now had to be done remotely. So the ask was simple. Create a virtual tour of the city’s most hospitable hotel properties to showcase the accommodations, event spaces and amenities.

Our Producer having a background in the hospitality industry really gave us a leg up on making the most of our efforts as well as helping us navigate some of the challenges that came with filming in these spaces during the pandemic. The six downtown Phoenix properties we were featuring were Sheraton, Hyatt Regency, Renaissance, Westin, Residence Inn and Hotel Palomar.

First thing we had to do was schedule filming all of the property details. Sheraton was still under construction and Hyatt Regency was undergoing renovations while the others were open for business and that presented its own challenges. For the property filming we had a three person team made up of our Producer, Director of Photography and Camera Assistant. We were also accompanied by one or two Visit Phoenix team members. Our gear set up for the properties consisted of a Kinefinity Mavo LF on the DJI Ronin 2 gimbal. This allowed us to film smooth footage throughout the space as well as smooth pan/tilt shots by simply positioning the set up in a room.

After about the third property we had developed quite the workflow and were moving quite efficiently. Some of our biggest challenges came from bedding that wasn’t steamed or pressed. Our Producer and Katie, a Visit Phoenix team member worked incredibly hard to get the comforters and pillows to comply, though some times it took more convincing than others. Some of the things that really stood out to us during this project was how odd it feels to be a hotel the size of the Hyatt Regency without a single guest. Our creative brains immediately began to think about the possibilities of filming a narrative film but I digress.

Each of the properties were incredibly hospitable and never made us feel as if we were imposing upon them. As an example, one of the decisions we had made was to try to film as much without seeing all of the COVID signage and markers that had become so common during the pandemic. Some of the hotels had the plexiglass partitions at the front desk while others just had signage and hand sanitizer dispensers placed in the common areas. It was a balancing act to capture content that could hopefully be used by the properties for years to come, while also respecting the current state of affairs that the entire world was dealing with.

After wrapping up the property filming, we began to discuss the final element of this collaboration. Visit Phoenix wanted to create an intro video that would feature the General Managers of each of the properties. They also wanted to do it in a way that was themed around the sporting event. So they managed to coordinate all six GMs, not an easy feat, for a day at ASU’s basketball training facility. There was a scripted message that would be delivered by all six GMs as well as a little basketball action on the court.

So we scheduled a location scout to identify the various spots at the facility for each dialogue part and to hopefully identify any potential challenges. We knew we would need to bring on our sound recordist for this to capture the best audio possible. Aside from that we had little concerns regarding other complications since the facility was not yet at full capacity due to COVID protocols. So aside from the regular team practice schedule we felt prepared for the task.

When the day to film arrived we moved like a well oiled machine. Set up gear and lights in the pre-selected location and give the General Managers enough time to comfortably get through their parts. We were not rushed due to the flexible schedule windows we created and it helped the talent not feel overly pressured. Once we got through the dialogue, we moved onto the court for some fun interactive shots as well as working on coordinating the final shot for the piece. The looks on the faces of the General Managers was priceless as you could see the genuine joy for them to be able to physically and mentally step away from their daily stressful positions.

Overall we were able to deliver 6 property videos and the GM Intro which you can see here. We were very pleased with the results and so was the client. Not only was this a great project to be a part of but it was also an opportunity that arrived when most of the businesses in the world were not spending money on video content with all of the uncertainty surrounding us. We would then go on to create similar property videos for four additional downtown hotels in the coming months as they proved to be a great resource for Visit Phoenix to continue doing the great work of increasing the city’s tourism.