We had the incredible opportunity of putting our videography skills to work and telling the story of where the Edmonton Christmas tree comes from. We were first approached by one of Alberta’s top forestry companies, Millar Western asking if we were interested in producing the video story of how they choose, cut down, and set up the Christmas Tree in downtown Edmonton. Of course being life time Edmontonian’s we were excited and curious about how exactly such a large tree is transported downtown.
But there was a catch, we were given some very last minute notice and told that they would be cutting down and setting up the tree in 2 days! We knew that we had to work quickly to plan out a compelling story and not just show up with cameras and hope we capture something good. All good visual story’s have a main character and a good plot line to follow. Millar Western was mainly just focused on having the process documented but we asked if we could have some creative lee-way to to produce a more creative story. With that we discovered that a life time forester who is retired would be chopping down the tree. We learned that Max although being retired, just can’t shake himself away from forestry and still comes back to help choose and cut down this large tree.
We knew that Max would be the perfect main character for this Edmonton videography story that people would connect with. Max was not only an expert but also someone with a passion and unique perspective into the tree and forestry. We traveled to Whitecourt at 5:00am, to meet with Max for the first time and have him lead us to the location where the tree would be cut down.
Max turned out to be rather humble and did not want the video story to be about him, he just wanted us to film how the tree was cut down. We were able to explain to Max how important his “why” was to the story and how many people really did want to know what keeps bringing a 72 year old forestry guy back out. His perspective was invaluable and is really what made this story come to live for residents who are living in Edmonton.
Since we are going out in the the bush for this video story that is unique to Edmonton, we chose to keep our gear limited and simple…ish. As many videographers know you want to bring all your toys and do as much as you can with all the cool shots. But we never wanted our gear to get in the way of telling a good story, we could have all the cool images in the world but lack a story. We chose to shoot this with one camera and our ronin-m steadicam mainly. Although for some of the zoomed shots we chose a monopod and 140mm lens. This set up allowed us to be rather quick and nimbal when walking through the bush and lots of mud! It also proved helpful when we were in the heart of down town Edmonton shooting the video of this giant tree being set up. We were running all over the place capturing the different angles and all the busy activity of the workers.
The best part of the whole video process was when we delivered it to Millar Western. Their expectations were for a simple video about the process, but they were blown away by how a strong story could enhance the entire video! This truly was a treat for us to film and we hope it has brought joy and understanding to all those who appreciate the tree in downtown Edmonton.