Our work on James Villas ‘FIND YOUR WOW’ holiday advert 2023
Last year we took on our most exciting and biggest project to date, shooting James Villas’ 2023 holiday advert campaign. We couldn’t be happier with how the advert turned out and thought it was about time we did a behind-the-scenes blog, breaking down the process from start to finish.
Who is James Villas?
James Villas is one of the leading UK villa holiday brands. They specialise in hand picking the best villas in over 50 destinations worldwide. They pride themselves on having a villa holiday to suit all holiday goers, ranging from the chill pool readers to the beach tanners, all the way to the proactive explorers.
Why James Villas came to us?
James Villas approached Brickoven because they were interested in looking into doing some YouTube advertising as a way to approach a younger audience. They were looking to broaden their appeal and widen their customer base. It started with a few fantastic initial meetings, imparting our knowledge of YouTube and broader social media advertising strategies. We then worked together to craft a creative brief.
Crafting in collaboration
Our brief was to create a package of YouTube holiday adverts based around the concept ‘Find your WOW’. ‘Find Your WOW’ was centred on the idea that each person’s WOW is a subjective experience. For instance, some folks would find the quiet tranquillity of relaxing by the pool reading a book a ‘WOW’, whereas a child’s ‘WOW’ moment would be jumping into a pool in their favourite colourful inflatable.
The plan was to film enough content to cover a suite of YouTube adverts. This consisted of 5x five-second ads, 5x fifteen-seconds ads, 5x thirty-second ads and a package of custom horizontal and vertical stock footage. This beautiful stock footage package would be tailored to their social content for the rest of the year and filmed with enough space in the frame to add an enticing bit of holiday advert sales copy in mind.
Shooting the holiday advert with James Villas
The month of pre-production was as intense as expected. We had to find the right crew, the cast, organise the gear (using rental houses from the UK & Spain), and work side by side with James Villas to find a beautiful (and available) Villa for the shoot. We couldn’t have done this without our wonderful and stupidly talented producer Jen Spence.
This was Brickovens’ first time shooting abroad, so naturally it brought with it some logistical requirements we’d not encountered before, the first being carnets. These are official travel documents which account for your equipment to prove you’re not importing and selling goods illegally. The clincher here is that 90% of staff at the airport haven’t the foggiest about them, so we advise anyone shooting abroad to make sure you know all the ins and outs beforehand. Golden rule no1 is to make sure you give yourself enough time to plan where you need to go to get these forms signed off at each airport or it WILL bite you later (please imagine a crack of thunder for some foreshadowing).
Shoot Diary for the advert
Touching down in Spain was an amazing feeling. After countless hours of emails, phone calls, video calls, storyboards and concepts (not to mention flights and now car rentals) we finally arrived at the door of the villa to a wave of excitement and fever pitch.
Day One – The avengers assembled
Our talented crew arrived at the location to prepare for the next few days of intense shooting. Gear prep was in full effect, as was location walks and mapping out the shots we had in mind. The first hurdle we hit was that all of the props we had ordered in our pre-production phase had been sent to the wrong address. We can’t lie, it was very much a panic station moment, which film directors Oliver and Wesley and our incredible make-up and props stylist Jenifer Hope Wheeler addressed as soon as possible. After a trip to the James Villas head office to borrow the skills of a Spanish speaking staff member, we managed to relocate most of the props and purchase the rest from local stores. Time we could have done without losing but a very promising display of contingency work around.
Day 2 and 3 – Action! And the cast
It was finally time to hit record on that Alexa Mini and boy were we ready. With everyone on standby and our directors around their monitors it was time for the cast to come into their own and really win this ad. This is where hurdle number two appeared. We were initially informed from the cast agency that the family were a fluent English speaking family but as soon as we rolled on our first take it was apparent that the agency might have been a little generous with their CV. This was no fault of their own, but in this instance we had to deal with a language barrier. Luck would have it that first off, the family were extremely lovely and were very patient with us, second was that our 1st AC Joe Dixon had been learning Dualingo Spanish for 2 years and before we knew it we were rolling. The next 2 days of shooting flew by in a blur.
Day 4 – Shooting at the villa and pack down
Our final shoot day was set aside to focus on our stock footage package for James Villas. This consisted of beautiful and engaging shots of the villa and the neighbouring beach. It was also the time for the crew to take the starring role, capturing footage of us acting as holiday goers, cheersing glasses, playing card games and dipping our feet in the pool. We were blessed to have our wonderful DOP Rico Bam and First AD Joe Dixon with their keen attention to detail, not to mention countless years of experience in the field to grace us with the beautiful look of the ad. We shot so much content we literally tripled the amount of stock footage which was due to be delivered, giving James Villas a huge amount of choice when it came to selecting which assets they would want for their marketing push. Our amazing soundie Josh Dykes also got to fulfil a dream by getting behind the Alexa camera on the last day. Happy to help!
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without another whirlwind of stress at the airport for our flight home. Another Benny Hill style run around Majorca Airport trying to tackle where to get our carnet forms stamped – not being helped by the fact our Spanish was very limited. We made the flight…with about 5 mins to spare. Again, please DO NOT underestimate how difficult and time consuming carnets are on your flights in and out of the country.
Before the tans had even had a chance to fade we were straight into post-production working with our amazing editor Chris Wrench, a master at piecing the puzzle together. We approached composer James Kelly with the task of evoking the summer sun with his wonderful music and our voice over came from our favourite northern VO artist Libby Taylor. The final touches and pièce de résistance of motion graphics were created by Wondar and they really pulled the advert together. James Villas liked the motion graphics so much we were asked to make 3 extra mograph adverts.
During the final push of delivery we were informed by James Villas that they wanted to stream the adverts out to the Video On Demand services in the UK. This was absolutely brilliant news! It would be the first time Brickoven had aired on TV/Cinema, a true high five moment for the team.
Our delivery for the holiday advert:
8 x 5 sec ad
4 x 15 sec ad
4 x 30 sec ad for YouTube
1 x VOD edit
100+ social assets in horizontal and vertical.
Wrap up and links
We had an absolute blast with this project and love that James VIllas chose us to create this fun holiday campaign. We want to shout out our amazing crew and cast, we really couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for all your hard work and becoming part of the Brick crew.
Here is a link to the holiday advert on YouTube:
BRICKOVEN loves to collaborate with businesses to help craft their video content and our knowledge and experience of each platform (YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, VOD, TikTok, Facebook & Vimeo) helps us get you the best value for your product.
If you want an exciting holiday advert filmed, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 0161 327 3799.
P.s – If you want to know what you will look like after running through an airport due to having wild chases with Carnet form officers… look no further.