The making of SMS’s new video inspired by little girls with big dreams

Written by Jennifer van Hardenberg, SMS Communications Coordinator

Finding compelling ways to share our school’s story with the world is an important part in helping new families discover St. Margaret’s. This spring, I took on a big project with help from colleagues and collaborators: to update our school promotional videos (because the previous 10 minute epic was looking a bit dated… although nearly 50k views is not too shabby for something created back in 2010).

Working with local video agency, Roll.Focus. Productions, we wanted to develop a concept that went beyond your typical infomercial. We wanted to create a video that represented the philosophy of the school, the energy of our students, the diversity of our community, all the while delivering an inspirational and memorable message.

There are a couple more videos still to come that are more informational in nature, but for this particular video we wanted to focus on our school mission. Looking around for inspiration we found ample sources, but two in particular deserve mention. Firstly, we were inspired by a quote from the National Coalition of Girls Schools:

“Whether they want to be astronauts, ambassadors, or accountants, gir​ls need to know – not just think, but really know, deep down in their gut – that nothing can stand in their way.”

SMS sends this message every day, because little girls with dreams become women of vision. This led me to remember a wonderful Google Doodle video that was released last year for International Women’s Day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched and rewatched that little video, I just love it (so I hope that the original doodler takes our adaptation as a sincere tribute and compliment). We then adapted the idea to have our students tell us (and the viewer) about their big goals for the future and illustrate the stuff of dreams appearing around them.

There some key considerations that shaped the final product:

  • At SMS, we’re all about developing and amplifying strong female voices, so we knew the message was going to be told by our students, not a narrator.
  • We wanted our concept to reflect our students’ youth, creativity, and potential, so we decided to use playful drawings to illustrate our students’ words.
  • And we wanted our video to feel genuine – so we featured real students talking about their real-world dreams and goals. Instead of writing a script, the ideas and words came right out of the screen tests we completed while building our cast.

About the illustrations, those were created by yours truly. I adopted a purposefully youthful, primitivist style to fit the bill. Going into filming I already had pretty good idea from the screen tests and subsequent storyboarding prep how I was going to illustrate the scene. This allowed us to direct the action to best enable the addition of the animations after the fact. However, there were also some happy accidents and experiments that happened while filming that made the final cut (especially working with our youngest “actors”).

About our cast, the students who came to screen tests were all so wonderful that we really just wanted to film with each and every one of them. And so, although this video is the first, it is by no means the last project, and we look forward to being able to capture more student perspectives in the future.

Big thanks to all the teachers,  and families who supported this project, and especially to the students who participated – you brought this idea to life!

Please enjoy and SHARE this video with friends by hopping over to your favourite social media outlet: click here to share on Facebook, or here to retweet on Twitter, or head on over to YouTube to view, share, and subscribe so you’ll see our next videos when they are released later in the summer!

We want to know: What’s your big dream? Where will the Red Blazer will take you?