Behind the Scenes: Our “Small Town Stories” Video

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The “Small Town Stories” video vignette on our website gives visitors a 4-minute glimpse into the work life of an everyday hero, fictional Bloomfield USA City Clerk, Becky Keller. People who have called Black Mountain Software to tell us how much they enjoy the video also ask a lot of questions about it. They want to know how we came up with the idea, who the actors are, where it was filmed, and more. For those inquiring minds, here’s the “Hollywood Insider” scoop on our video.

Several months ago, Black Mountain partnered with Flying Horse Communication of Bozeman, Montana, to develop a new website with enhanced search engine optimization (SEO). Videos are a great way to increase SEO, so we discussed video ideas, daring to venture beyond the more traditional approach of testimonial videos to explore the notion of a mini-drama that would be totally unexpected and unique in the field of municipal software. (We filmed testimonial videos for our website, too…but that’s a topic for another blog article!)

Our staff evaluated four video story concepts and narrowed it down to two – one serious and one humorous. The final decision was after a full afternoon of sharing the concepts with local school and city clerks to gain their input and perspectives. The clerks we spoke with overwhelmingly chose the funny concept, confirming our suspicion that beneath their all-business exterior, clerks have a lighter side.

Concept in hand, we then launched into a whirlwind of scriptwriting and editing, actor auditions, location evaluations, prop acquisition, and crew scheduling, all expertly orchestrated by Project Coordinator extraordinaire, Jessica at Flying Horse Communications. A few weeks and a 4-hour drive to Bozeman’s City Hall later, we were ready to participate in an after-hours filming session.

It felt strange walking into a flurry of activity in an otherwise dark and deserted City Hall. People were running around getting their hair and makeup done, grabbing sandwiches and snacks from a reception desk converted to a food station, rehearsing lines and discussing scripts, and pushing and pulling video, lighting and sound equipment into place. Judging by the faces of a few City Hall employees whom we startled as they got off the elevator to leave after working late, the late-night City Hall commotion looked as strange as it felt.

Filming took hours, but the time went quickly, thanks in large part to the humorous antics of the crew and cast. There was never a dull moment with the witty, talented Bozeman actors who played the characters of Jason, Janet, Randy, and Becky in our day-in-the-life video. They wonderfully portrayed exaggerated versions of the people and situations that a City Clerk handles with grace each day, while showing without exaggeration how Black Mountain Software gives clerks the tools to accomplish an amazing variety of tasks with confidence and ease.

The job didn’t end with the video shoot. Film editing and production also took some time and effort as we worked on selecting which shots worked best for each scene, getting the sound and color just right, selecting music, perfecting the opening and closing slides – and cutting again and again to get the final video down to our “under 4 minutes” goal. Happily, no retakes were needed and before long, we were hosting a video unveiling at our Black Mountain offices to share the final product with our staff. For the unveiling, Flying Horse sent us a special video of outtakes and bloopers to remember all the funny moments shared on that long, laughter-filled night at Bozeman (aka, Bloomfield!) City Hall. Following the successful local unveiling, our video sat quietly on the sidelines for several weeks, waiting for its international debut as one of the stars of our new website.

The video vignette was a lot of work, but everyone involved enjoyed the process immensely. And most importantly, our website data is showing that the goals of improved SEO and a more engaging website are being met with the help of our unusual video.

If you have any feedback or questions about the video, please post a comment here. We’d love to hear what you think and are more than happy to share information and insights about this experience. You can also view all current and future BMS videos on the Black Mountain Software You Tube Channel.

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