Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Publishing, High School French
Holt’s requirements for the French video series were clear: dramatic segments for Levels 1 & 2, 60 vocabulary segments, and 15 cultural segments. They had two very compelling scripts that read like Hollywood screenplays. One story was set in Nice, France, and the other was set in Dakar, Senegal. Our challenge was to shoot a highly suspenseful and intricate mystery, on a limited budget and in West Africa- someplace we had never shot before.
Edge Media's first task was to align the pedagogic needs of the script with Holt's budget. We collaborated with them to modify the scripts to the very essence of the stories while still retaining the important plot ingredients necessary to any good mystery. This included combining scenes or characters, removing scenes that were extraneous and keeping extras to a minimum.
For the second task, we used our normal methods for any foreign location production: hiring foreign production partners, arranging transportation, lodging, and developing schedules. And, these projects demand that we work closely with the client on casting and location scouting. Edge Media has an extremely successful relationship with a production partner in France, but neither of us had ever shot an entire language program in West Africa. A pre-production trip to Senegal was required to evaluate the infrastructure and determine the economic liability of such an undertaking. We found out three things:
Our solution was to shoot a majority of interior scenes on Ile de Goree, a small island near Dakar that was accessible only by ferry, had no vehicles and a small but representative population. The remoteness of the island eliminated the problems that had plagued us on the mainland: crowded conditions, noise and power outages. Though spartan, the island was beautiful with its tropical foliage, architecture and huge baobab trees. With client consultation, we adapted the script to take advantage of that beauty. We shot the rest of the interiors and a majority of the exteriors in and around Dakar to ensure that we captured the full cultural feeling of Senegal.
Two months of on-location production plus four months of footage acquisition and post-production resulted in market-leading programs. We are proud to have contributed to the success.