Combining construction with conservation.
Telling the story of Isaac Construction.
Isaac Construction’s a Christchurch institution. They’ve built and maintained the roads that form the backbone of the South Island for over seventy years.

The business has played an important role in Christchurch over the years. They helped build Cathedral Square, and Memorial Avenue. The Isaacs were also staunch supporters of Isaac Theatre Royal. They’re proud of their history, and they wanted a video that could tell this story to new team members.

Just as importantly, they wanted to tell the story of their relationship with the Conservation Trust. The Isaacs were pioneers in marrying construction with conservation. The Trust owns Isaac Construction, so as a construction company they have a unique dual purpose, to build great roads and to support conservation. All profits from their construction work go to the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, a 1,100-hectare wetland reserve set in reclaimed quarries around their HQ, home to breeding programmes for endangered birds and native planting projects. Belmont worked with Plato, their creative agency, to craft a story.

Kate knew Isaac Construction needed a video to tell this story in a sophisticated way.

“I asked myself who would be a good fit for the job. I knew we'd have to do interviews and cover the six different areas of their business. The cinematography had to do justice to the scale of Isaac Construction’s work. And we needed someone who could weave together the two stories of conservation and construction. It wasn’t a simple project, so I went to see Rick at Belmont.”

Setting people at ease

Kate continues:

“Everybody makes videos these days, but nobody likes being in them. I've never met a single soul who's gone, "Oh goodie are you coming to film me?” But the heart and soul of a good video is the person telling the story. So, it’s important to be able to relax people on camera, especially people who aren’t performers.

“Rick’s very good at interviewing. He's very gentle. He reassures people they're in a safe place and they can relax. Putting someone on camera can be a horrible experience. They look into the darkness of the lens, and they freeze. Often, they trail off and forget what they were saying. Rick's really good at nursing people through that fear and getting the best out of them.

“He's also great at gently guiding people to find the right words if they're struggling. Interviewing feels too harsh a term for what he does because it's more a natural conversation. He's one of the best I know at doing thorough, considered interviews which form the backbone of a story. It’s an amazing skill.

“Rick’s interested in the human condition. He always remembers people's names, and their life stories. He always asks them how they're doing. He's genuinely an affable guy, and on a shoot, you need someone like that.

“At the beginning of the shoot, he paves the way for the interviews by talking to the people we’re filming, warming them up and building a relationship. He's really good at doing that. I've been out with a lot of crews where they'll just start shooting. They don't spend the time to get people onside. Whereas Rick will stop and chat to people. And often you get nuggets of gold because they'll mention something else worth filming.”

The heart and soul of a good video is the person telling the story.

Finding the right voices

Kate recalls:

“From the beginning we knew we’d tell the Isaac Construction story from their team’s perspective. We wanted to showcase the different areas of the business and tell their story from different angles. This makes the video far more engaging because you're meeting more people and seeing more faces.

“Rick and I went out to choose talent together. I find Rick really easy to work with because he's open, he listens and he’s very considerate in his feedback. He's not a pushy diva director.

“We wanted to show the diversity in the Isaac Construction team, so we met staff from all their different business areas. We commandeered a room and Rick filmed everyone on his phone as we were having a chat. We were looking for people who could talk fluently, and who were personable and confident on camera.”

To tell good stories, you need someone who can listen, understand, gently guide people to tell their story.

The art of storytelling

Storytelling is the buzzword of the day when it comes to creating content.

Kate says: “Globally, there’s a trend where video producers have hopped onto the storytelling bandwagon. They talk about being great storytellers and visual creators. But not everyone delivers on that promise.

“When you get Belmont to tell your story, you get beautiful imagery that’s really well thought out, composed, and framed. And that's what you need.

“When businesses see their everyday work portrayed in such a way, it's different for them. It's new. They've never seen it like that before. A great brand video is a piece of art but it's also a lens on a company that makes people feel good when they watch it.

with us on a journey. They see the hard work, the care and attention Rick and his team put into it. Then at the end they get this wonderful, experiential video that makes them proud of where they work and what they do. They see the best of themselves.”

Practical tips when planning content creation for the building and construction sector

Health and safety are vital for shoots

Have a health and safety induction for the camera crew. We need to know what hazards we’ll encounter as we shoot.

Brief your team and get their consent to film. Make sure everyone knows a film crew will be on site and what to expect. Put it on your hazard board and make it part of your daily induction.

Be aware of  constraints

Be aware of the constraints of shooting in a construction environment. It can hard to interview on a noisy site. We may need to do interviews in spots with less background noise, so there may be compromise between having busy dynamic backdrops and good audio when it comes to interviews.

Plan ahead

Let us know about milestones in the construction process ahead of time. If you’re doing a concrete pour at 4:00am, we need to know in advance so we can get our crew there to film.

Brief us on any IP that needs to be protected, or if there’s anything you don’t want us to film because its culturally or commercially sensitive.

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