Safe Harbor, the West Chester resource for homeless men and women, sought a capable resource to help tell its story. The messaging would take the form of an appeal video that could be widely disseminated on social media.
But the project had to be put in the right hands.
The subject matter required a certain level of tact, as the organization sought to tell its residents’ stories in ways that were nonjudgmental and supportive.
As it turned out, the exact tone it sought was just steps away.
Koi-Fly Creative, a two-minute walk from Safe Harbor’s corner spot on Matlack Street, provided not only the skill for the job but also a crew — comprised of in-house seasoned professionals and several talented interns — that was as discreet as it was professional.
Stacey Grant, Koi-Fly’s executive producer for the Safe Harbor project, explained how the fledgling filmmakers got involved.
“We have a summer project built into our internships that require students to make a video for a nonprofit organization without charge,” Grant said. “We monitor it closely, but it is set up to give them real-world experience in putting together video content.”
Grant explained that the interns working on the Safe Harbor project were overseen by a Koi-Fly producer, an in-house director, a cinematographer, and director of photography. But the bulk of the work was done by 20-somethings.
She saw her and her colleagues’ role primarily as advisory.
“We’re really heavy on quality control,” she said, describing the Koi-Fly standards for client work. “But yes, it was a teaching and training tool.
“We counseled on details like color correction and motion graphics and things like that. We added a few elements of our own flair.
“But the students worked really hard on it. And they also got meaning out of it. I mean, it was a way for them to give service to others while learning their craft.”
Leaving Comfort Zones
Compiling the content took a few of the college contributors out of their comfort zones, especially in the one-on-one interviews with the shelter’s temporary residents.
“Our in-house producer asked questions,” Grant said, describing the Q&A process. “But then she opened it up to the student team. And some of what they asked was really good, too.”
She was particularly impressed by the sensitivity the students brought to the personal testimonials.
“It’s hard,” she said. “Making sure everyone’s comfortable. But they navigated it really well. I give these students a lot of credit.”
Confidentiality issues prevented the wholesale filming of residents in the everyday ebb and flow of their time at Safe Harbor; therefore, one of the interns was called into service to portray a resident coming to the shelter for the first time.
Once all the onsite footage was shot, the interns then tackled the editing process, collaborating with Koi-Fly veterans to piece the narrative together in an effective, yet compelling, way.
The result received universal praise from the Koi-Fly leadership.
Erin Versaggi, In-House Producer, said, “It was really incredible to watch the team of interns fully dive into this project by doing the proper research and working hand-in-hand with the client to ensure their vision was being met.
“The collaboration between Safe Harbor, the Koi-Fly Team, and the interns was tangible. They truly captured the mission and outreach of Safe Harbor through informative creativity, collaboration, and a sense of delicacy that is hard to attain.”
Dan Abel, In-House Director of Photography, commented, “Overall it was a great experience watching over the interns and seeing them come together to create something really special. It was awesome to hear things from another point of view and I feel that I have walked away from that project with more insight amongst homelessness.”
Producer Kyra Knox added, “Working on the Safe Harbor Project was not only important but also special to me because I got to mentor these amazing kids while also giving back to the community in West Chester.
“It’s a delicate balance when you’re trying to bring awareness to a shelter while also making sure that you’re not exploiting the residents that reside there. I think the interns did an amazing job and I’m so proud of them and the team at Koi-Fly Creative.”
Cailey Hopkinson, one of the production interns, clearly maximized the educational opportunity she was part of: “I learned more about production in the few months working with Koi-Fly and on Safe Harbor than all of my classroom time to date.”
Safe Harbor, as the client, was also very enthusiastic about the final product and appreciative of the talents brought by its local collaborator.
“Everyone here at Safe Harbor is grateful for the Koi-Fly Team who took our mission to help the homeless and turned it into a compelling video for us to share with our neighbors in Chester County,” said David James, Safe Harbor Director of Development and Marketing.
Kudos All ‘Round
Safe Harbor and Koi-Fly wished to recognize the talented individuals involved in the project:
- Executive Producer: Stacey Grant
- Director/Producer: Kyra KnoxDirector/Talent: Cailey Hopkinson
- Director of Photography: Dan Abel
- Director of Photography/Editor: Jalen Ramseur-Williams
- Associate Producer: Erin Versaggi
- Associate Producer/Editor: Nicole Jurado
- Second Cam Operator/Editor: Lauren Kennedy
- Third Cam Operator: Jack Walker
- Sound Operator: Samantha Meneses
- Direction of Production: Dave Bisson
- Editor/Colorist: Morgan Kruczek
- Drone: Eric LaCasse