Valley Forge / Montgomery County, located in Pennsylvania, is one of the most respected sporting tourism hotspots in the States. With more than $65 million generated for the county in 2022, the area’s sporting facilities, hotels and parks attract thousands of visitors each year – whether they’re looking for some recreational fun in the sun, or competing in local tournaments at the highest level for taekwondo, football, volleyball and more.
To highlight Valley Forge / Montgomery County as a premier destination for all this athletic action, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board partnered with Parody Studios, a creative content production and post-production house based out of Philadelphia, to develop a video that shows off the sports and leisure offerings.
Parody Studios teamed up with director David Godin to lead the creative direction and vision for the project, aiming to produce something authentic and driven by the inspiration athletes find on and off the field at Valley Forge. LBB’s Ben Conway caught up with David to discuss how the scenic ‘Out There’ film hit all its goals and went beyond “just pretty shots”.
LBB> What attracted you to this project? And what were some key ideas or visuals you had in mind when ideating in pre-production?
David> Initially, there were a few things that attracted me to this project. First, working with Parody Studios is always super high on my list. These guys are going places as a new company – and fast. I adore working with them. Two, I haven’t had the opportunity to direct much sports work, yet have always wanted to do so. Third, the fine folks at Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board were wide open to us bringing all the creative concepts and direction to the table for this project. They fully trusted us and essentially said the door was wide open to make what we want. That’s incredibly rare in the commercial world – and it is a testament to their firm belief in their creative partners.
From the get-go, we always wanted to focus on our key teenage protagonist’s relationship to experiences in the outer world rubbing off on her athletic experience. I got excited about the idea of visual and creative ways to emphasise match cuts between some of these experiences that would highlight how these experiences could be infused into her soccer playing.
LBB> Valley Forge has a rich sporting and tourism history – were you familiar with the area already? How did you research the location, and what places or people helped inform the spot?
David> I grew up about an hour from Valley Forge – so it has been a place I have been familiar with for quite a long time. Initially, I had envisioned bringing in more parallels between the vital historical aspect of American history that took place in Valley Forge – but that would have eliminated some of the focus on other elements of tourism in the area.
We did a lot of pre-scouting through photos and driving around – and relied a lot on the client to help shape what was necessary in showcasing tourism in the film.
LBB> The film’s direction leverages the inspiration and optimism athletes find both on and off the field – how did you arrive at this direction, and what were some vital beats and sequences that you shot to explore this?
David> We learned a lot about the different sports tournaments and athletes that are in the area – and to be honest, I was blown away at the level of talent of these young athletes. There are a lot of pre-Olympic, tier-one youth athletes that participate in these spots. Witnessing the intensity of the competition, even at the youth level, was fascinating to me.
Creatively, I started wondering about how much of these athletes’ lives are focused on sports and training. These are kids – they need to experience more of the world. So I wondered how these experiences could add an extra dimension to their athletic performance and experience.
One particular sequence I really like is when our heroine arrives at a hotel with her mom and sees a restaurant worker stretch his wrists before cutting a lemon to add to her water. Then when we next see her training at the soccer pitch, she stretches her wrists in a similar way. To me, we are witnessing her subconsciously absorbing these ‘out of the stadium’ experiences and infusing them in goalkeeping training.
LBB> The spot centres around this goalkeeper and her training, as well as her exploration of the Valley Forge area – how was the casting process? And why take this slightly more narrative approach?
David> The casting process was pretty straightforward. We were looking for a young woman with some real acting chops and some athletic ability. Additionally, we knew we wanted to feature a lot of moments with the young woman’s mother – and it just so happens our lead young woman’s mother is also an actress – so we cast her to be her mom.
Tourism work, for me, often feels like just pretty shots. As a director, I am naturally just drawn to narrative – and I felt from day one we would have a more impactful spot if we told it in a more grounded, narrative way. Additionally, we have to keep the audience in mind – a lot of whom are sports tournament organisers, parents, and youth athletes. We want them to connect with our lead heroine in the film, and feel like Valley Forge and Montgomery County will be a great place to visit and explore more of themselves. It is a tourism spot after all. We want people to come!
LBB> How was production generally? What are some of your favourite shots and sequences in the final film? Tell us how you achieved them!
David> Production was a hell of a lot of fun for this shoot. We had a small, nimble crew, with our DP, Joe Grasso, operating and pulling his own focus – which nobody else does. Honestly, I’m so damn proud of him and the work he did on this spot.
Favourite shots? Hmmm. I love what we shot in Valley Forge Park – of mom and daughter walking around the old buildings – and our heroine in the wheat grain field. The light was so perfect. I love everything we shot on the soccer field early in the morning. I am a sucker for gorgeous natural light so that stands out.
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