As we watched the hard work of the day playing back on the monitors, our eyes filled with tears. But they weren’t from the grind of a tough, 7-day shoot catching up with us. These were tears of pride. At that very moment, huddled around a tiny display, we were witnessing a beautiful story coming to life. Allie’s story.
When it became time to work on the new campaign for Virginia Beach, we knew we wanted to create a film that captured what it truly means to Live the Life in Virginia Beach. So we started with a simple human truth–we all want to feel like we belong. That’s the root of Living the Life–finding your place in our beach culture and reaching your potential. No matter what we’re working on, we use logic and emotion as our guide, judging our ideas on whether or not they’re true. Really true. So to find inspiration for “Grommet,” we looked at our own personal experiences.
Believe me, my mother-in-law’s passing was the last place I expected to find inspiration for a tourism film. And to be honest, I’m not even sure that was exactly where the idea came from. Like any creative collaboration, a great idea has no owner. It just kind of happens. But for me personally, it’s how I connected to the idea.
Like any creative collaboration, a great idea has no owner. It just kind of happens. But for me personally, it’s how I connected to the idea.
My beautiful mother-in-law, Jan, battled Multiple Sclerosis for most of her adult life. Every day her condition grew progressively worse until she lost all mobility and was confined to a wheelchair. I remember hearing stories of their family trips to the beach and how she would have to be carried down onto the sand. But Jan never complained. She was happy to simply have the sun on her face and her toes in the sand. She wanted nothing more than to be part of her family’s beach experience. She just wanted to belong.
Virginia Beach’s Grommet Island allows everyone to Live the Life. It’s the only oceanfront special needs playground that exists in the country. So it made the perfect backdrop for our project. The creative stars were aligning and we had our idea and our location, we just needed a remarkable story to bring it to life.
Allie, our amazing talent for “Grommet,” is a Virginia Beach local who loves the beach. Unfortunately, she has physical challenges that greatly limit her mobility, but that doesn’t stop her from spending as much time at the beach as she can. One of her favorite things to do is to ride the waves on a surfboard with her longtime family friend, Charles. When we heard Allie and Charles’s story, we knew they’d be perfect for our project. Thankfully, they graciously accepted. After two days of shooting, crazy swells, obnoxious clouds, sandy camera gear and rock star performances by Allie and Charles, we had our story.
As a creative, before you hang up your coffee mug and pencil for good, you want to not only have created work that you’re proud of, but you also want your work to have connected with someone on a personal level. As we stood around the monitor watching our hard work playing back, tearfully smiling, we knew we had accomplished both.