When asked by Scripps International to produce short form content for Travel Channel and Food Network UK, Caroline Yearsley, executive director of Original Concept Productions wanted viewers to feel like they were part of the programming.
“It’s about experiencing and inspiring,” Yearsley said. “It’s about trying to get them into that moment rather than sitting on their sofa.”
Whether that means horseback riding along a deserted beach, preparing a traditional Japanese meal for friends and family, or packing for a road trip, that creative vision drove a series of shorts that tackle very different subjects in very different ways, but come together at their cores to invigorate and stir audiences across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The videos will run between programs as short-form fillers. When creating the content, those at Original Concept kept in the back of their minds the series it could tie into such as Baggage Battles, Durban Beach, Rescue Expedition Unknown and Road Less Travelled, but also had a lot of flexibility in terms of how to execute their ideas.
“We had quite a lot of freedom in terms of the whole style really,” Yearsley said.
Traditional Family Meals with Local Flavor
The UK-based creative video agency worked with what Yearsley described as “very much an open brief,” that asked for short form content that was exciting, fresh, and reflected the programming and positioning of the channel. Development was a “nice, simple process” where Original Concepts brainstormed at least 20 ideas for the channels, and executives picked out the ones to pursue.
For Food Network, Scripps wanted to provide viewers with more insight into what the channel was about, focusing on the fun that can be had with food, while also incorporating local flavor for the target audience.
To accomplish that, Original Concepts created a Family Dinners series around cooking a traditional recipe. The company worked with experienced chefs to lend a quality of professionalism, but filmed them preparing the meal in their own home, and sitting down to share it with friends and family.
“For it to be authentic, it had to be their own family and friends, so you get that sense of enjoyment when making the foods,” Yearsley said.
They chose to feature traditional dishes from around the world, but let the chefs decide what to cook and had them put a unique twist on it. For instance, Indian chef Romy Gill grated paneer cheese that was specific to the region she is from.
“When we spoke to the chefs, we asked them to cook something that was very much in their hearts,” Yearsley said.
The content is also visually driven so that it works across regions. Without becoming too recipe focused, the shorts reveal enough so that someone watching could actually make the dish, while emphasized the fun to be had on Food Network and emotionally connecting audiences to “real people” doing what they do best in real life.
Wild Travels Across Epic Terrain
In fact, that emotional hook and element of awe is prominent throughout the video series Original Concept produced for Travel Channel as well.
For that project, Scripps wanted short form content that was “exciting, fresh and reflects the programming and positioning of the channel” while going beyond the idea of vacations and travel guides to highlight the genuine experience of “being there and not here.”
Yearsley and her team created a Wild Travels series, using drones and high quality cameras to follow people’s journeys as they enjoy such activities as hiking across unspoiled terrain, taking a dip in a secluded lake, and coasteering along rocky cliffs.
“Even though you have a person in each film, the focus is more on the landscape,” Yearsley said. “It’s very beautiful and picturesque, and that person just happens to be there.”
Original Concepts also filmed everything locally, showcasing the stunning countryside of the studio’s location while evoking a sense of wanderlust for the viewer—as well as for the production team itself.
Packing for All Types of Adventures
Another video series Original Concept created for Travel Channel was How to Pack, which uses stop motion animation in a packing guide for trips such as a fabulous weekend away, a backpack adventure, or a long holiday with just one bag.
For this project, Scripps provided direction on the types of trips to focus on, and the studio worked with The Media Workshop for the stop motion element.
In this case, the challenge was to make sure the content was not only fun to watch, but valuable and informative.
“There’s a million films out there that do very similar things,” Yearsley said.
Original Concept sought out professionals for advice on everything from folding techniques to essential camping equipment.
“We learned a lot of that one,” Yearsley said. “We just kept making sure we were the viewers, and we were going to be impressed with what we were saying. We really thought it through in terms of making sure it was interesting.”
Original Concept is also developing shorts that explore how some of the world’s most loved drinks, including gin, vodka, beer and wine, are made, as well as a video portrait of two tree surgeons in a poetic, slow motion look at the natural beauty and familiar danger that are part of their daily routine.
This work for Scripps follows Original Concept’s success with a similar project for the company’s lifestyle channel Fine Living.
Sometimes, less is more, and Yearsley hopes to create more work in this format.
“They’re beautifully short,” she said.