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These days everybody loves to know what really goes on behind the glitz and the glamour of a shoot.  That’s why we’ve put a blog post together dedicated to helping you catch a glimpse of how we created the gorgeous Episode 1 of the Caesarstone Kitchen of the Year series!

Judge, Bielle Bellingham, waits off camera for the scene to be set for her vignette!
Judge, Bielle Bellingham, waits off camera with first cameraman, Kenny Wong, for the scene to be set for her vignette!

 

Location, Location, Location!

“Before we even get to the day of the shoot, we’ve usually spent a few weeks researching good location options,” says Caesarstone presenter and advertising manager, Lisa Aspeling.  “We always look for a location that’s ‘on brand’ – a venue that captures the essence of the Caesarstone brand values of elegance, aesthetic appeal and great design,” she comments.  “Everything about the Cavalli Wine and Stud Farm was on point for this shoot – we’re just delighted we got to spend a whole day surrounded by so much beauty!”

A gorgeous Stellenbosch setting for a beautifully designed venue!
A gorgeous Stellenbosch setting for a beautifully designed venue!

 

The entrance to the Equus restaurant on the Cavalli estate.
The entrance to the Equus restaurant on the Cavalli estate.

 

What Story Are We Telling

With each episode lasting only 5 minutes, meticulous planning of the 10 inserts was critical.  “We wanted to ensure that this series would be entertaining to watch and that it would tell good stories that added real value to viewers’ lives,” says Lisa.  “We didn’t just want to deliver dry facts about what makes a good kitchen design, or clinical details about Caesarstone surfaces.  We needed to package the information and the experience of the competition in a way that was highly engaging for the participants and the public”.

"Hurry up and wait" is a common phrase bandied about on set. Here, presenters Lisa Aspeling and Danilo Acquisto wait off camera until they're needed for Episode 1's closing sequence.
“Hurry up and wait” is a common phrase bandied about on set. Here, presenters Lisa Aspeling and Danilo Acquisto wait off camera until they’re needed for Episode 1’s closing sequence.

 

One of the ways to boost entertainment and engagement is through using presenters to help guide viewers through the experience and make it more human.  “Presenters are almost like the wrapping paper and ribbon around a gift – they package all the individual elements together in a way that’s really attractive and should make the viewer want to ‘unwrap’ the contents of the show,” says director, Bianca Schmitz of Media Village.

The presenters and judges performed this scene several times - the hardest part was resisting drinking their sparkling wine!
The presenters and judges performed this scene several times – the hardest part was resisting drinking their sparkling wine!

 

The Gift of the Gab

Another key element of the series is scripting.  Before the shoot even began, the director and producers had already laid down questions to get the best responses and content out of the judges.  “As the director, part of my job was guiding the action to ensure that the judges hit their key points.  When it comes to the presenters’ scripts though, those are written and signed off weeks before the actual shoot day because we already know the information they need to cover”.

Bianca continues, “People don’t always realise that presenters aren’t ‘ad libbing’ all the time.  In such a short segment, you have to be very strict with sticking to the script in order to cover so much information in a small timeframe.  The presenters aren’t actually reading off a teleprompter either – they memorise their lines, which helps them deliver them more naturally to camera and engage better with viewers”.

Presenters, Lisa Aspeling and Danilo Acquisto, discuss the script and make last minute changes before shooting the first presenter introduction of the series.
Presenters, Lisa Aspeling and Danilo Acquisto, discuss the script and make last minute changes before shooting the first presenter introduction of the series.

 

Presenting can also be more difficult than it looks, according to television personality Danilo Acquisto, “You definitely get into the swing of it, but you’re often standing in the hot sun doing several takes of a link because you have to get a few options for the edit, or redoing your links because an aeroplane flew overhead and compromised the sound.  Luckily, all the people on this shoot have been amazing, so we were able to have fun even when there were setbacks,” says Danilo.

The Actual Shoot

The shoot day started at 6am in the dark, with crew, presenters and judges arriving to set up and get hair and makeup done.  While the ladies were getting dolled up, the crew spent time setting up cameras and lighting equipment, also scouting for the perfect locations for each scene.

Getting the perfect shot means lots of extra lighting, two cameras, perfect sound and sometimes, even a dolly! (That's the track the camera can move along).
Getting the perfect shot means lots of extra lighting, two cameras, perfect sound and sometimes, even a dolly! (That’s the track the camera can move along).

 

The day was spent not only doing the actual judging, but shooting the epic series introduction as well.  “We wanted our insert series intro to give the judges more airtime this year,” says Caesarstone marketing director, Trevor King.  “Their contribution sets the tone for the whole series, so we really wanted to give viewers a better understanding of what each personality and skill set brought to the competition, and how important their diverse perspectives really are,” he says.

An entrance in a sleek Mercedes Benz perfectly captures Bielle's elegant persona.
An entrance in a sleek Mercedes Benz perfectly captures Bielle’s elegant persona.

 

“Before the shoot we met with the director to brief her on what we wanted as it’s so important that the look and feel of the series reflects the Caesarstone brand,” adds Trevor.  “We also thought a lot about how best to depict each of the judges in a way that would communicate why they were a part of the panel, which is how we came up with their unique vignettes”.

Director, Bianca Vermooten, sits with judge Philip Richards to explain his vignette.
Media Village director, Bianca Schmitz, sits with judge Philip Richards to explain his vignette.

 

Testing shots for framing, focus and lighting are key before commencing with the shoot sequence.
Testing shots for framing, focus and lighting are key before commencing with the shoot sequence.

 

Bradley in between takes of his vignette showcasing a glimpse into the life of a TV producer!
One of the judges, Bradley van den Berg, in between takes of his vignette showcasing a glimpse into the life of a TV producer!

 

Cavalli's Equus restaurant played host to Karen's vignette shoot.
Cavalli’s beautiful Equus restaurant played host to Karen’s vignette shoot.

 

Karen Dudley's bubbly personality exploded in between the serious takes!
Karen Dudley’s bubbly personality exploded in between the serious takes!

 

The Importance of Styling

“Styling a set is like accessorising an outfit,” says stylist, photographer and graphic designer for Caesarstone, Candice Johnson.  “The right accessories will add to the overall effect of the outfit, but shouldn’t become the focus.  Just as you would keep being distracted by a necklace or earrings that don’t suit the outfit being worn, you also can’t under-accessorise either.  Finding the balance when addressing colour and weighting of styling elements is really essential for every set being filmed or photographed,” she says.

Every scene had to be styled meticulously - not one item in each shot was there by chance. Each was carefully selected and arranged by a stylist.
Every scene had to be styled meticulously – not one item in each shot was there by chance. Each was carefully selected and arranged by the stylist.

 

Caesarstone pens, moleskin notebooks and printed entries were the styling elements for the round table judging.
Caesarstone branded pens, moleskin notebooks and printed entries were the styling elements for the round table judging.

 

The two most important styling items in this shot? The Mercedes Benz and the Elle Decoration magazine!
The two most important styling items in this shot? The Mercedes-Benz and the Elle Decoration magazine!

 

Feeding Frenzy

And, of course, perhaps the most important part of any shoot day is the catering.  “With sometimes up to 12 hour shoot days to get through, looking after the crew’s tummies is a big priority,” says Caesarstone’s marketing assistant, Margo Fincham.  “We like to squeeze in as many meals and tea breaks as possible, because they really do help the team to perform at their best, which just results in a great end product,” she adds.

Good food and drink are essential for keeping the cast and crew going!
Good food and drink are essential for keeping the cast and crew going!

 

“These shoots are a lot of hard work, but also so much fun,” says marketing director, Trevor King.  “We are just so grateful to everyone who brought their gifts and talents to the day and the whole process – we couldn’t have created a beautiful Episode 1 without any one of the people partnering with us on this project”.

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